A sample player is, in essence, a piece of software that allows the user to play samples on a keyboard, sequencer or other form of triggering device as if they were a musical instrument. Samples are stored in the digital memory of the device or software and can be quickly accessed and swapped out for other samples. Samplers also often allow the user to manipulate the sample via methods such as modulation, effects units, filters and even pitch shifting to allow a single sample to be used in different pitches as an entire instrument. To be a useful tool for both performance and composition, it is an important requirement for the sampler to be polyphonic, although this only works with samples that share harmonic qualities or are pitch shifted variations of the same sample.
Most sample players share the same basic type of interface. The player is controlled by an external device which functions as a controller such as a MIDI keyboard (or purpose built sampling pads) and when the note message is received by the sample player, it accesses the sample and applies any effects or modulation applied to the sample before sending it to the system output. Samples can also be assigned to a group of keys called a ‘key zone’ where the sample can be shifted in pitch by semitones or tones based on the tracking information of the input device (a MIDI keyboard in this context) and the set of keyzones is referred to as a keymap. Segmentation of the MIDI keyboard into groups of keys allows for ensemble instruments to be created using samplers, and originally the scope of this project was to create an entire ensemble gamelan although due to time constraints and the size of the project, it has been narrowed down to one or two components of the gamelan.
V., Simon (2001-05-08). “Sampler anti-aliasing and pitch-shifting comparison”. http://www.simonv.com. Archived from the original on 2010-06-19. Retrieved 2011-02-05.