As anyone who has paid attention to mainstream hip hop will know, sampling is getting more and more obscure.
Big-shot producers have taken instruments from the east, west, north, south and occasionally what sounds like the depths of space to create their tracks. So I figured it would be helpful to see some of the more obscure instruments you could sample!
Here are 10 interesting instruments to sample for your next production to really stand out!
1. Koto – A traditional Japanese instrument with a distinctly oriental flavour to the sound. The pitch bends are brilliant and the tone lends itself to minor keys brilliantly.
2. Saw – Not just for DIY – the saw can be used both as a rugged cutting tool and a delicate, beautiful musical instrument. A haunting, echo-y sound emanates from it when bent and played with a bow. Definitely an obscure instrument!
3. Géophone – Bored of using shakers? This massive drum contains thousands of beads, providing the sound of the earth moving. I wonder how that would work in some Electro House…
4. Cimbalo – An interesting instrument from Hungary, with sticks similar to that of a drum kit, but strings to hit instead of toms and cymbals – a different pitch for each. This combines percussive playing technique with melodic runs to create an instrument that, when played by someone adept at it, can make some seriously fast, intricate melodies.
5. Uilleann pipes – Very similar to the bagpipes, however this instrument hails from Ireland. It produces a sweeter timbre and has 2 octaves of notes available. This instrument is capable of playing chords and it’s drone means that it always has that distinctive pipe undertone.
6. H20rgan – Here’s a weird and wonderful one; Also known as a hydraulophone, it’s a wind instrument with water churning out of the holes instead of wind, meaning when the player places his hands over the holes, different notes come out!
7. Beer bottle organ - Ever blown over the top of a bottle when you’re sitting at a bar and heard that breathy tone? Think of an entire instrument based on that sound. A bunch of guiness bottles filled with varying amounts of glycerine (I’m assuming the creator was pretty wasted during the product’s development) provide the multi-octave spread.
8. Theremin – An early electronic instrument that makes a sound without actually being touched. Depending on the distance of the player’s hand from the main rod, a different pitch is produced, making it a difficult instrument to master. It’s been used in Sci-Fi films for decades, giving that spooky, retro-futuristic sound.
9. Singing Tesla Coil - Woah. Using high voltage sparks to generate notes of music, it sounds kind of like a sawtooth wave, but with a considerably more distorted tone. And it looks spectacular.
10. Jew’s Harp – Despite the implicating name, it is not the namesake of Judaism. This obscure instrument is played by placing it in the mouth and flicking a piece of metal. It gives a funny little percussive sound – you may have heard it in country music. It’s thought to be one of the oldest instruments in the world.