In the last EXS tutorial, we looked at the basic steps needed to build a unique sampled instrument using Logic’s EXS Sampler. This tutorial will take it to the next level as we learn how to build a more complex instrument using multiple samples.
Several months back my friend and colleague Michael Teoli and I were sitting around the kitchen when we started to tap on empty glass bottles. As I’m sure all of you have done at some point, we started to “play” the bottles and see what tunes we could come up with.
“Wouldn’t it be great if we could sample these bottles and make them into an instrument?” we wondered, and on went the lightbulb above our heads. Enter EXS.
Note: this tutorial contains embedded audio that will not display in a feed reader. Click back to the site to read the tutorial with audio or download the Play Pack at the end of the tut.
The first step for building a multi-sample instrument is to collect the actual samples. In our case we recorded bottles at 14 pitches, using water to approximate the pitch.
For those of you with perfect pitch I will apologize right now, these are glass bottles we’re talking about here and so the pitch can be pretty… uneven!
The process of creating your own samples is somewhat beyond the capacity of this tutorial, but there are a few points to keep in mind that are specific to our EXS needs.
- Once you’ve got your samples it is critical that you edit them so that the sound starts at the very beginning of the file, otherwise you’re going to get a delay when you try to play your instrument and the sample is playing back a moment of silence. Here is an image of what a crisp edit should look like.
- Naming is very important. Not only should your samples be named so clearly so that if you find your file sitting on your desktop you know what it is insantly, but you also need to properly label the pitch to take advantage of EXS’s “Automap” feature. Put the pitch after a space at the end of the file name, being sure to use the letter and number. As an example, middle C on our instrument should be labeled “Audiotuts Bottles C3.wav”.
- For this type of instrument, it is also important to normalize all of our samples so that the volume of the bottles will be even across the keyboard.
Included with this tutorial are the 14 bottle samples. You can hear them each played here:
Now on to building our instrument. Create a new software instrument track by going under the “Track” menu and selecting “New…”. This will bring up the New Track dialogue box, where we want to create 1 software instrument and set the output to your main output (which should be default). Click “Create” when you’re ready to create a new track.
Instantiate EXS24 on our new software instrument by clicking and holding on the track’s input. Scroll down until you get to EXS24 (Sampler). A minor shortcut: you can let go on EXS24 without having to choose Stereo because Stereo is the default.
Enter the EXS Instrument Editor window by clicking on “Edit”, which is in the upper right corner of the main EXS window. Under the “Instrument” menu select “New” to create our new instrument.
Instead of creating a new zone like we did last time, this time we are going to choose “Load multiple samples”, which can be found under the Zone menu. This will let us load in all of our bottle samples at once.
Navigate to the folder where you are keeping the bottles samples (tip - try to find a permanent home for the samples before you create the instrument. If you move them after creating your instrument, EXS is going to take a very long time to find them by itself the next time you try loading up the patch). Once you have found the folder, choose “Add All” and you should see all of the samples loaded into the window. Choose Done to create new zones from our samples.
Here is where EXS is going to help us out immensely. EXS will now ask you how you want it to handle all of the samples you have just loaded. You want to choose “Auto map”, which will automatically detect the proper pitch from each sample’s file name (remember how important it is to properly name a file?) and place it on the right key for you. Choose OK and watch the magic happen.
EXS has now done almost all of the rest of the work for us. If you look through the zone on the keyboard display, you’ll see that it automatically assigned each sample. You can now play your instrument back to hear what we’ve created.
In this last editing step we will make a minor adjustment to the way the samples are played back. Under the “Edit” menu choose “Select All” and scroll to the right area of the window.
With all of your zones selected, click on any box under the “1Shot” column in the Playback section. A check mark should appear in every box in the column. “1Shot” tells EXS that once you hit a key it should play the sample the entire way through without stopping.
It’s ideal for an instrument with very short samples like ours, and for most types of percussion. You would want to use “1Shot” on a snare patch, for example, or any other type of instrument that would otherwise sound unnatural to cut off abruptly. Of course it would not make sense to use on an instrument with longer samples, such as strings or sustained winds.
Don’t forget to save your work before closing the EXS Instrument Editor. In this example I’ve named our new instrument “Audiotuts Bottles.”
Here’s a short example of what our new instrument sounds like
Bottles Playing Bach
Clearly, EXS has made these glass bottles a little easier to play than with forks on a kitchen table! I hope you have seen from this tutorial how easy EXS makes it to create instruments with a bit of complexity.
See if you have other instruments or household items that could be turned into EXS patches (I have a small kalimba a friend brought me from the Caribbean that would make an ideal candidate). If you come up with something unique to sample, please share your ideas with the community so we can see the possibilities.
- Logic Pro 8 EXS Instrument Source Files
- WAV Samples