Sample Organization and Workflow


I bought my Octatrack a little over a month ago and I have figured out how to get what I want out of it for the most part. Wonderful machine.
My main aim is the creation of entire songs with the OT - and from there, create entire sets. I’m well on my way.

I recently discovered sample chains, basically a single sample containing a bunch of different samples to be triggered via slices. Novel idea, but in using a few I’ve found for free download (Tarekith’s chains for example), I’ve got some questions.

  1. Chains seem best for stuffing lots of single-shot drum sounds, chords and FX into a single sample slot on the OT. For samples I would use to construct melodic lines they’re a pain though, because I can’t chromatically play an individual slice. Or can I?

I don’t want to have to use the sample editor to create a new sample out of an individual slice of the chain (defeats the point of the chain), or manually input pitch information into each trig… totally kills it for me…

So is there a way to chromatically play a slice? How do you guys deal with this?

  1. The pitch range of a single sample is limited on the OT (1 octave +/- or something). I get around this by resampling. If I can figure out a reasonable answer to question #1, is a sample chain with the same sample at different octaces per slice a good approach?

  2. I took around 10GB of samples from my studio and crammed them into an OT project, thinking I’d just make tons of songs in that one project and then have the OT delete all the unused junk. All of this, after cleaning up my sample collection considerably to remove junk I’d never use, etc. Anyone have thoughts on sample organization and the OT?

This extends to the fact that the Flex and Static sample slot lists are common to all banks and patterns (so in my case, all songs). I wonder how people keep it all straight - I’ve started working on a new song (in a new bank) and I start adding/changing samples, and next thing I know I’ve accidentally destroyed one of the earlier songs because I changed something… maybe limiting samples to a certain slot range per bank to avoid this? But then I’d run into memory constraints quickly…

  1. What benefits do the Flex machines offer over the Static? Just extra timestretching capability? So far I’ve worked mainly with one-shot samples, not a lot of loops, and haven’t really noticed much difference between the two functionally (for what I’m doing anyway). I wonder though if later on down the road, since all of my songs have to pull samples from common Flex/Static lists, I’m going to be cursing the fact I didn’t have certain samples in one of the other… Ideally I’d just create a new project for every song for maximum potential over each song, but that would kill the ability to flow seamlessly between songs.

That’s probably a lot to chew on, but it’s what I’m grappling with since I don’t want to end up halfway into a set’s worth of new songs and realize I’ve totally boned myself because I wasn’t smart enough at the outset. I’m 2 songs in and starting to feel the heat.

Thanks in advance.

Another thing with the chains - how would I utilize a sample chain full of single cycle waveforms? Again, I’ve found this kind of thing out there for download (and tried using it, only to say… wha??), but wouldn’t I have to rip the waveform out and create a looping individual sample?

You cant play a sampleslice chromatically. But you can create a sample chain with chromatic slices. I use that when i like a sound. Then i create a scale and play it with the slices.

To be clear: you can play any individual slice chromatically - by selecting the slice via the STRT parameter and then entering Chromatic Mode (or via MIDI). The keyboard will play the selected Slice with a corresponding pitch for each Trig button / keyboard key.

What you can’t do is to have a sample chain containing a chromatic scale mapped to the Chromatic mode / MIDI keyboard. That is a common feature request.

  1. See my reply to Keiowas above.

  2. Yes! Make a chain containing C-1, C0, C1, C2… etc. Now you can play a single octave using Chromatic Mode and then p-lock the Trigs you wish to transpose by selecting a different Slice. There isn’t a way to have the slice change automatically as you move further up/down the keyboard, unfortunately.

  3. Personally, I have one Audio folder per Set. My Set contains multiple Songs, all of which have their own Project and, therefore, their own Slot List. I can see advantages to both methods. I don’t plan to perform live, so I have no need to access multiple songs without stopping to Change Project.

Doing it your way you have the advantage of accessing each Song seamlessly - but the disadvantage of only having 256 slots for samples. Obviously with careful use of chains, this could be 256 * 64 samples.

  1. Aside from being able to modulate the Start position with the LFOs, there are a number of Editing options available with Flex which aren’t there for Static samples. (eg You can Crop the sample, or make a new sample from a selection).

Thanks for that! Being able to chromatically play a slice is huge for me.

A couple more things…

Is there a way to copy a track’s settings (sample selection, LFO, FX) individually without copying an entire part?

Any suggestions on the ideal volume at which to create chains? I’ve noticed issues when using individual samples from my own collection, but when using Tarekith’s chains everything is fine when I resample to a new track (too bad he isn’t here to ask!).

I’m almost wondering if maybe it’s time to sit down with the manual and tutorials all again, now that I’ve been at it for a while, to catch all the little bits I may have missed while trying to understand the bigger picture.

To copy a track:

With the Track active and in Record Mode, hold the Track button and press Fn + Rec.

To paste the copied track:

With the destination Track active and in Record Mode, hold the Track button then press Fn + Stop.

I would say yes, not knowing how to copy a track is a lot bit missed.

Thanks rikrak - that’s very useful, up until now I had been copying only track trigs, patterns and parts. It would be cool if there was a way to copy ONLY the track settings though, without the trigs! Good enough though :slight_smile:

Can I route the audio inputs ONLY to the Cue outputs, without using a Thru machine? I can Cue the inputs, but they appear to be (in the headphones anyway) going through the master as well.

Really appreciate the advice.

I doubt this is possible, but I’m also looking for a clever way to tune the entire machine (downward to 432hz). I am guessing I will be limited to tuning the samples themselves.

Tracks that are Muted (Function + Track) and Cued still send to Cue Out.

Don’t forget Headphone Out is Master + Cue by default. You can change Mix with Level while in Mixer.

Not sure what you mean by tuning OT down to 432 Hz!

Yes you would need to tune the samples themselves as the OT doesn’t have a synth engine.

No synth engine, despite sometimes pretending otherwise when using single cycle waveforms… but all samples have a pitch control. A function that would let me alter the zero/middle point of each sample’s pitch knob would be a nice feature.

Tracks that are Muted (Function + Track) and Cued still send to Cue Out.

Don’t forget Headphone Out is Master + Cue by default. You can change Mix with Level while in Mixer.

Not sure what you mean by tuning OT down to 432 Hz! [/quote]
I want to use the A/B input to route my E-MU Command Station through the OT, but also be able to cue it so I can play around on it and come up with parts with nobody hearing. Preferably without using any of the OT’s audio tracks, which are usually in short supply in my tunes.

Orchestras used to tune A to 432 instead of 440, and there are several other alternative tunings out there. I don’t get into metaphysical debates over which is best, but I still think it’s fun to play around with these.

Yes would be nice. I guess you could batch process your single cycle waves down a few cents to get it to 432hz in an app like Audition.