Sampler (musical instrument)

A sampler is an electronic or digital musical instrument which uses sound recordings (or "samples") of real instrument sounds (e.g., a piano, violin, trumpet, or other synthesizer), excerpts from recorded songs (e.g., a five-second bass guitar riff from a funk song) or found sounds (e.g., sirens and ocean waves). The samples are loaded or recorded by the user or by a manufacturer. These sounds are then played back by means of the sampler program itself, a MIDI keyboard, sequencer or another triggering device (e.g., electronic drums) to perform or compose music. Because these samples are usually stored in digital memory, the information can be quickly accessed. A single sample may often be pitch-shifted to different pitches to produce musical scales and chords.

Lichttonorgel (1936),
an earlier sampling organ utilizing analog optical disc
An AKAI MPC2000 sampling sequencer (1997)

Often samplers offer filters, effects units, modulation via low frequency oscillation and other synthesizer-like processes that allow the original sound to be modified in many different ways. Most samplers have Multitimbrality capabilities – they can play back different sounds simultaneously. Many are also polyphonic – they are able to play more than one note at the same time.



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