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I can't figure out how to tune a sample so it matches another, previously recorded sample. I understand there are combinations of samples that won't ever match, but that can't be the case as often as I feel like it is.

What I do is play the two samples together and try to match them in tune. Any advice what to listen for or how to go about it?

We're talking mostly "single-hit" sample, so timing isn't a concern.

  • when you say 'single hit', do you mean like just one note of an instrument? or one chord? or what? – topo Reinstate Monica Apr 25 '17 at 8:01
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A large percentage of the time, the first bass note of the sample will tell you what key it's in. So, listen for the bass, and use a music keyboard to match up what note the bass corresponds to.

Do this for both samples. Whatever notes you find will be used as a basic for tuning. When you do this with your DAW or sound editor, you want to use whatever function's built-in that change the key of the sample without changing the length. The key change may be expressed there by lettered note, or in semitones.

The other thing to consider is that one song may start out with chords in a major key, while the other might start in a minor key. If this is the case, there's a little more of a challenge because of dissonance. I can't answer every possibility here, but I think this is a good starting point.

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If you play each sample through a guitar tuning plugin, that's usually enough to figure out what the fundamental tone of the sample is. Then you can use that information to tune each sample to the key of your composition using pitch shifting.

Using something more advanced, like software or a plugin designed to work with pitch, such as Melodyne, would probably also work.

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