A sample is a short piece of prerecorded sound that we have loaded into the computer's memory. A sampler is a sound generating module that can play back samples.
A sampler can play the sound back in a variety of ways. Some examples include: playing the sample in reverse, slowing down playback, speeding up playback, or looping sections of the sample. Looping is particularly popular. We can find interesting new rhythms and colors just by changing the start and stop times of the loop.
Drum machines are an example of a sampler. The drum samples, which are usually less than a second in length, are prerecorded. When the drum machine receives input, it plays a sample. The drum machine can play back the samples in preset or live modified patterns.
Most early electronic music is in the category of "tape music". Tape music started as taking physical tapes of music and sounds, and cutting them up, and adhering the pieces back together to create a new piece. We can simulate this experience in modern computer software.
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