Plunderphonics Producers: How Do You Organize Your Sample Records?
I need to know. The more records I have, the harder it is to get my thoughts together. It’s an issue that’s rooted in both physical organization and how I catalog notes in my collection on the site. This has been an ongoing project for years, longer than me being a member of this website. Many of the submissions I’ve made here have been in pursuit of the perfect beat.
I found some systems that work for certain parts of my collection. The system for 7” organization I implemented a few years ago has been very fruitful in its outcome. I have a list of two-letter tags that I write in the top corner of the sleeve. So, something like this:
A-Side – Jazz (Ja)
B-Side – Jazz-Funk (FS-JF)
Both sides: Instrumental (In)
Also: There’s a non-drum break loop on the B-Side. (Br-X-B)
This looks convoluted and it kinda is, but, any system is a good system if it works for you, and this works for me. This works for 7″s because most only have two tracks and are likely to sort into a single genre, style, or reason why I want it. LPs often have many tracks and different reasons why I am retaining it. While such a style is likely compatible, I’ve been resistant to attempt to implement it. I can do something better.
Good LP sorting means needing a balance. Being able to find items in my collection and to withhold an amount of crate diversity is important. Good plunderphonics come from many different genres, styles, and time periods. My experiments with sorting alphabetically or by genre/style has been unsuccessful. It’s created untouchable blocks of records locked in an invisible contextual forcefield. A semi-random order removes the decision to gravitate towards or away from sections of your collection.
I’ve been experimenting with this a bit, per this blog post I did a while back. I’ve gotten through a percent of my collection using this. I’ve noticed that it’s not exactly ideal and needs some adjustments. There needs to be some contextual connection between the physical location of the item and its contents. As it stands, if I want to locate an individual record, I need to look up it’s section number and search that cube. Not exactly convenient.
Then there’s spoken word samples, which are an even bigger issue. How do you organize those? I’ve had limited luck here. Thematic organization of spoken word records seems to make the most sense on the whole. I haven’t had success with it, though. Once they’re digitized, how do you organize the files per project? I’ve been considering using post-it notes and storyboarding out each track.
What about file names? I’m still using the same old DAW that I’ve been using for over ten years. As this is for making music, it’s not obsolete, it’s vintage. I name files to help maximize my ability to use the program I use the easiest: [BPM] – [Instruments] – [Artist] – [Title] ([Note]). It’s simple and helps sort things on my end. Please use the comments section of this post to tell me how I should get Ableton or something.
The new album will drop sometime this summer. I’m no Avalanches or DJ Shadow, but I’m like not awful either. I’ve pulled a little shy of 400 loops so far. This is about the as many as I needed to start production for the last project of this nature I did a few years back. Let me know what you think and what works for you!