Integrating synths and vst's with samples

Integrating synths and vst's with samples1.jpg

This post is about integrating synths and vst's with samples.  This is a fun one for me but also somewhat new to me as well.


As most of you know by now, my background in beat making history is strictly with samples inside the MPC and very little knowledge of playing any instruments.  I mentioned in a previous post that I have been experimenting with different vst sounds this year.  Honestly, this has taken my production to the next level.  If you haven’t tried this yet, I strongly recommend it.  For those of you out there not using samples, I would still suggest trying this method and see what happens for you.  


I start by tracking out my drum sequences and then I lay down the sample the way I imagine it will be used.  Nefarious trick of the trade: I found an iPhone app that I really like called “Key Detect.”  Using this app, you can isolate the sample and find the musical key that you are working in.  This is the first step to greatness.  This ensures that all of your sounds will blend together in harmony.  Then it is time to start finding the right sounds to complete the track: keys, pads, bass, synth etc.  Using this method, it can be easy to over do it, so here’s the pattern that I usually work with: I start with a lead, some keys, and a pad...then I add some bass and tweak the volumes.  The volume is important because you want everything to blend evenly.  You don’t want any one sound to overpower the others.  A well adjusted volume helps the beat sound full.  


Creating the beat this way should be a fun experience for you.  It's a chance for you to dig down deep and let your musical soul come out.  Feel the experience.  Don’t be so technical.  Experiment with both the sample and the synth.  As long as you stay in the key, you’re golden.  When I started using this method, it changed the quality and the sound of my beats.  It also helped me create beats that didn’t come from a sample.  If you are reading this and you only make beats with samples, I understand the struggle.  It is hard to make beats without a sample.  This process made my life easier when dealing with a beat that didn’t come from a sample.  It is easier to come up with melodies this way.  


I’ve been experimenting with with lots of different vsts.  If you’re looking for more natural sounds, I would suggest any native instruments, mostly Kontakt or even Omnisphere.  This has lots of natural sounds and is also good for scoring.  For other synths in my arsenal, I have Sylenth, Elektra X, Reaktor, Ray Blaster, Kontakt libraries, and lot more.  All of these vsts have great presets.  If you do enough searching for the sound you like, tweak certain parts so that you stand out and don’t sound like everyone else.  Have fun with this!  Make it about the experience and learning the process.  After a while, it becomes more and more natural.  This method has helped me add melodies to non-sampled beats a few different times.  You can actually talk out the sample and it ensures you will have a full beat that is very close to a replay.  You can even replace the sample with a made up melody!  


I know it can be a struggle transitioning to this new way of creating.  I hope this post can help you because this process really helped me.  Feel free to ask any questions you have with this method!  Comment here and share your own thoughts and experiences.  As always, I can be reached at