Music / September 26, 2022

Aphex Twin releases “sample-mashing app” Samplebrain

Image: Aphex Twin: Mick Hutson / redferns 1996
Music / September 26, 2022

Aphex Twin releases “sample-mashing app” Samplebrain

Words: Ellen Kenny

Samplebrain will allow users to create their own music quickly and easily.

DJ and musician Aphex Twin has launched a new open-source sound design software, Samplebrain, allowing users to mash tracks together in real-time. On Samplebrain, users can chop various samples into a “brain” of interconnected snippets called “blocks”, which are “connected into a network by similarity”.

The app processes your sample by chopping it up into ‘blocks’ like this and attempting to match each block with one in the brain, allowing you to mash together a track in real-time using this source material.

Users will be able to interpret one sound with another using “tweakable parameters” like ‘novelty’ and ‘boredom’. So instead of linearly chopping and playing slices, Samplebrain allows users to mash up a target sound based on a source sound.

Origins of Samplebrain

According to Aphex Twin, the Irish-born DJ also known as Richard David James, Samplebrain was inspired by music-identifying app Shazam. The software was created with engineer Dave Griffiths, and they have been working together for the last two decades.

“This idea came about a long time ago, not sure exactly when, 2002-ish, but when mp3s started to become a thing, when for the first time there were a ton of them sitting on my hard drive and the brilliant Shazam had recently launched,” Aphex Twin explains, “Started thinking ‘hmm all this music sitting there, maybe it can be used for something else other than just playing or DJing (hi Atomixmp3 & rudimentary max/msp patches).’ I had originally contacted the founders of Shazam to discuss further creative uses of their genius idea but they were busy making an automatic DJ programme.”

“I still think Shazam could be re-purposed for something incredible but in the meantime we have Samplebrain. What if you could reconstruct source audio from a selection of other mp3s/audio on your computer? What if you could build a 303 riff from only acapellas or bubbling mud sounds? What if you could sing a silly tune and rebuild it from classical music files? You can do this with Samplebrain.”

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