Sample a Break Beat

In music, sampling means reusing of a part (or sample) of one song in another song. As a hip hop music creator, you might sample a rhythm, a melody, speech, sounds, or even entire bars of music. Your samples could be layered, equalized, sped up or slowed down, re-pitched, looped, or otherwise manipulated. Sampling is a fundamental element of hip hop music, and the systems and technologies that made it possible were created by the fathers of hip hop.


Back then, DJs would take the part of a song extend it indefinitely by using two copies of the same record and a mixer. Grandmaster Flash figured out how to repeat, on a loop, the parts of songs that party crowds found most exciting, and blend drum breaks from different genres of music. He would mark a record's climactic point, which he called "the get down" part, with a crayon.

He developed a system to help to him to locate "the get down part" of the song every time he wanted to go back to it.  He called it "quick mix theory." For every four bars of music, you have to spin that record six times backwards to arrive at the top of the break to repeat it, or 4bf = 6rc = loop 


Grandmaster Flash and the original hip hop DJs were creating rhythmic beats by looping the breaks. Computer programmers use looping too. Looping is a programming structure that allows programmers to efficiently code repetitive tasks, instead of having to code the same action over and over again.  

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With the help of computer technology, you can loop your breakbeat sample to create a whole new song.


The tracks that are used in hip hop music today are created with computer programs called Digital Audio Workstations, or DAWs. But the original hip hop mixes were created in real time, live on the spot at parties while people were dancing. Hip hop DJs like Grandmaster Flash invented the technologies to do this. By building mixers with two turntables, hacking a cueing system, figuring out a way to locate the get down part consistently, he was able to create an entire song made of samples of other songs.

To Create Your Sampled Track 

First, you have to find a song. The original DJs searched through stacks and stacks of albums, listening carefully to the music on each one, trying to find the perfect part that would keep people dancing. Grandmaster Flash liked to use the drum breaks in 70s disco songs. They became known as breakbeats.


To create your new song, you will choose a part from one of these three songs:

The Jacksons - Can You Feel It (Official Audio)Artist Name
00:00 / 06:02
AJR - Burn The House Down (Official Clean Version)Artist Name
00:00 / 03:33
Beyonce- End of time (with lyrics)Artist Name
00:00 / 03:41

Once you listen to each song, open BandLab and choose the one you want to work with.

  • Open BandLab and go to the search bar at the top of the page. Search for the track you want to recreate: 

Sample 1 Can you Feel It

Sample 2 Burn the House Down

Sample 3 End of Time


  • Select the track and click on the green button that says "Fork this Revision"

  • Open the song in the "Mix Editor"

  • Point your cursor to the words "Imported Track" and Right click, select "Duplicate Track"


Now you have made a copy of the track. Use this as your working track. Mute the original track, but save it just in case you want to start over.


  • Listen to your track and find a short clip to sample. Use the numbers across the top to help you locate the place(s) in the track that you want to use. To cut the clip, move your Playhead to the beginning of your clip.

  • Make sure your entire clip is selected (it should have a white line around it).

  • Go to Edit and select "Slice at Playhead"


You may want to change the tempo (or speed) of your track. Hip hop beats are usually between 75 and 100 beats per minute (BPM). Trap beats usually have higher tempos (135-160 BPM).


  • To determine the tempo of your original track, Right click on the track, and find "Analyze Region," then select "Get Tempo."

To choose your sample

  • Create a beat that loops the break 4 times 

  • Add a baseline (using the midi beatbox or drum kit)


  • Add high hat/clap (using the midi beatbox or drum kit)

(Tips, Tricks, and Helpful Hints: If you are building your beat using the drum machine in BandLab, you will need to export your baseline to a .wav trackThen, you can adjust the tempo so it matches your sample track.)

  • Add a melody, sound effects, or lyric phrase(s) (using the midi controller, drum kits or instruments in BandLab)

  • Create variations of your beat (different patterns that can be turned into the intro, chorus, bridge, and verse) (recreate and remix to make it "our sound") (using the drumkit in BandLab)

Things to try...