Folk samples are a great choice for creating emotionally compelling beats.
But you’ll need to think outside the box when sampling folk music. It’s not as simple as buying a sample pack online. Instead, you’ll need to dig for unique folk records to achieve an authentic sound.
An overview of folk music
Let’s begin with traditional folk music. This style draws from the ancient folk traditions passed down through generations, often relying on acoustic instruments such as guitars, banjos, fiddles, and harmonicas.
There are also plenty of regional variations of folk music. They vary greatly around the world, with each region boasting its own distinctive sound.
For example, Irish folk music often features strong rhythms with lively melodies played on instruments like tin whistles, fiddles, and bodhráns (i.e., Irish drums). Listening to Irish bands like The Dubliners or The Chieftains can give you a taste of this vibrant Celtic tradition.
On the other hand, American Appalachian folk features soulful vocals, the distinctive twang of the mountain dulcimer, and fingerpicked banjo melodies. Artists like Doc Watson or Jean Ritchie capture the spirit of this beautiful style.
But don’t limit yourself to just these examples – there are countless regional folk traditions waiting to be discovered.
Dig for folk records with rich harmonies
Harmonies play a crucial role in creating emotional impact within a song. They enhance melodic lines by introducing additional supportive notes or vocal parts that create resonance.
One intriguing example where rich harmonies take center stage is Kendrick Lamar’s track “DUCKWORTH.”
The hit song samples “September” by Ostavi Trag, beautifully showcasing how harmonies from a folk record can breathe new life into contemporary music.
Ostavi Trag’s “September” comprises intricate acoustic guitar strumming accompanied by heartfelt vocals. The track carries an uplifting energy that resonates with listeners. What makes this sample stand out are the lush harmonies, layered vocals, and strong bass line.
Listen for memorable vocal performances
Another way to detect good folk samples is to pay attention to the vocals. The right vocal performances can add character and authenticity to your track.
Let’s take a look at an example from someone you might know – Kanye West.
You’ve probably heard Kanye West’s song “New Slaves.” In its outro, West sampled a song called “Gyöngyhajú Lány” by Omega.
This vocal performance adds a raw sense of nostalgia to Kanye’s electronic beat. And this rich layering is a powerful contrast that makes the overall composition very compelling.
Find unique melodies with acoustic instruments
The next element to listen for are compelling melodies.
A great example of a folk sample is from the hit song “Tunnel Vision” by rapper Kodak Black.
This track features a sample from the song “El Aparecido” by Inti-Illimani.
The melodic interplay between the guitar and flute works perfectly for this modern trap beat.
Use streaming platforms for music discovery
Streaming platforms like Spotify are a great way to start digging for folk samples. These platforms have extensive music libraries that you can explore for a wide variety of folk songs from different regions and time periods.
Start your search with genre-specific playlists. These playlists may have titles like “Folk Classics,” “Modern Folk Gems,” or even focus on sub-genres like “Indie Folk” or “Traditional Americana.” Listening to these playlists will expose you to both well-known folk artists and foreign acts that might provide the perfect sample material for your productions.
Once you find a folk artist or song that resonates with your taste, take advantage of the streaming platform’s recommendation feature. Look for similar artists or songs based on what you’re currently listening to. Not only will this broaden your exposure to different folk musicians, but it may also introduce you to other genres and musical influences that blend well with folk music.
Use niche curators to find obscure recordings
When searching for folk samples, you’ll quickly realize that streaming services are limited to popular or commercial artists. If you want obscure folk samples, you’ll need to dig deeper.
Unfortunately, your local record shop may not have many options either. While it’s true that some gems can be found in these stores, it’s harder to find foreign folk music outside of a particular region.
That’s why, if you want to go deeper and find samples from different cultures and regions, you should use niche music curators.
Niche curators specialize in specific cultures or regions, and can help you locate rare recordings. They gather overlooked and obscure albums, creating a curated selection that celebrates the nuances of folk traditions across the globe.
Music blogs are a great way to find hidden gems from around the world. Similarly, YouTube channels can offer recorded tracks from rare vinyl releases that might inspire fresh ideas for your productions.
To find these rich collections of rare folk records, consider using a tool like Crate Stash. It allows you to quickly search hundreds of niche digging spots online.
Then, once you’ve found a niche curator that specializes in folk music, you can dig for folk samples that you wouldn’t otherwise find on streaming platforms or local stores.
Avoid This Common Mistake…
The last thing to remember is this:
You can learn all the skills, tactics, and tools in the world…
But nothing will save your beats if you choose the wrong samples.
Too many producers struggle because they try to make beats with limited inspiration. This causes them to force sounds that don’t belong.
That’s why it’s crucial to dig for the right samples.
This training shows you a simple test you can use to uncover the perfect samples in 30 seconds or less.
It’s perfect for sample-based producers of all experience levels.
Don’t miss your chance to overcome this common mistake.