OrganizeSampleLibrary

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Hey all... Here’s a suggestion to keep your sample library well organized and working perfectly for you. I’m not going to preach filing systems, they will change from user to user – but there are some general principles that will make your life easier. I will use my system as an example, but it is by no means absolutely the best, nor is it for everybody.

First, make you folder tree BEFORE you throw in samples. This forces you to think about how you will organize everything. Will it be by bpm? With Live, this is less of an issue than with other programs, but some still like this. Will it be by instrument? By Genre? By era? I know a guy who organizes his sample library chronologically by era – that is, ‘60s, ‘70s, early ‘80s, late 80’s early 90’s, etc. Not my style but it works for him.

For me, I went first by loops and then one-shots. You rarely want to go pre-listening to a few dozen one shots when you want a loop, and vice-versa. So for me, the first level is:

C: Sample Library -Loops -Oneshots

Then, within the loops I went by instrument. I find that often classifying by genre can pigeon hole you, and I don’t like it.

So, Within “loops” I have: --Synths --Percussion --Stringed --Keys --Wind --Vocals

Within “Wind” for instance, I have --Wind


Ensembles
Brass
Woodwinds
Flute
Other

The other category includes some digiridoos n’ bagpipes, slide whistles, etc. This brings up a good point – don’t overclassify, or you’ll lose things. If I had a folder for Loops / wind / continuous bladder wind / bagpipes / Irish bagpipes it would make auditioning loops hell in Live’s browser.

Anyways, back to Wind, within Brass I have Trumpet, Trombone and other. I don’t have enough Tuba, Baritone Horn or French Horn samples for their own folders.

Within Ensembles, I had to classify in keys. The A,B,C,D,E,F,G is irrelevant since you can transpose in Live, but you can’t transpose a minor key into a major or into a diminished 7th or whatnot… the regular wind instruments, being monophonic, if they’re in a minor key you can change them to major with the clip envelope changing the pitch at selective notes. However, in an ensemble I needed a totally different filing system. So, they’re grouped into Major, Minor, Other (pretty much empty folder but there’s some stuff) and Key Changes. The Key changes is just that – key changes. I grouped them into Major to Minor, Minor to Major and Other. Again, I did this because you can’t change a chord with Live’s transpose.

It looks like this:

--Wind


Ensembles
Major
Minor
Other
Key Changes
Major to minor
Minor to Major
Others

Within Percussion I have:

--Percussion


Kicks
Breakbeats (For me this means kick, snare & hi-hat; bread & butter of breakbeat)
HiHats
Latin & African
Other

Here, I broke down the breakbeats further (cause they’re the most important to me)

--Percussion


Breakbeats
Dirty
Compressed
Light or gated
Electro

I find that in this category I am CONSTANTLY adding / deleting folders and moving files around. This is critical for me in performance, so I created a “temp breaks” folder under Breakbeats which houses the samples I’ll need for a specific show.

      • I should practice what I preach.*** I really SHOULD take all the samples that I will use in a show and “save as self contained” but I like keeping my folder hierarchy, so I don’t do it often enough. I should really do this instead of a “temp breaks” folder, but old habits are hard to break. (No pun intended)

My last point that I will make is the “reject” folder. This is a life-saver.

If you have a sample that you think absolutely doesn’t fit your aesthetics, or just sucks or whatever, GET IT OUT OF YOUR SAMPLE LIBRARY NOW!!! Leaving it in there just makes auditioning samples that much longer and tedious. Please, do yourself a favour and GET IT OUT!

That said, don’t necessarily delete it… When you’re auditioning samples, or even copying them from a legally purchased license free sample CD (rrrriiiiigghht?) immediately put the rejects in a “reject” folder. You don’t need to organize the reject folder, but I keep the difference between loops and one-shots, even in the rejects.

When I am dying for inspiration, I will go to the rejects and randomly throw in a sample, just to get the shock value in my composition. I won’t necessarily keep that Chinese gong, but I might pitch it down –48, gate it and compress it to make a bassline. Ta-da! Instant inspiration. Live lets you use the wierdest stuff for all sorts of purposes…

Also, I have gotten a couple of friends to make “reject” folders – and then we trade ‘em. I made this track:

http://www.garageband.com/song?%7Cpe1%7CS8LTM0LdsaSnZlG3Z2A

…using only the rejects from a buddy of mine named Gord Burns. I made it before I used Live, I used Cubase at the time, but it is still a good example of what you can do with somebody else’s rejects… What he thought was garbage I thought was golden. Anyways, I find my reject folder useful at least once every couple of months, if not more often. BUT, I don’t have to sort through all that junk when I’m searching for something specific.

Well, like I said, this isn’t gospel nor is it the best way of organizing your sample library, but the important part of this is KEEP ORGANIZED. No matter HOW you organize your sample library, you should at least have a system and stick to it – it will make your life a lot easier.

A closing note; I am currently using live almost exclusively with VST instruments and MIDI… since Live 4 I have almost totally abandoned using samples altogether… Weird.

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