Mapping the World of Amiga Samples

Mod Sample Master is a new project to look into samples in mod-files, and how they relate to each other. This is pretty amazing because it lets us delve into 30+ years of a digital music movement, to see how samples have traveled between songs, people, time, place. 75,000 songs and a million samples.

At the moment, the method for matching samples is very simple. Either it’s a perfect 100% match, or it’s not a match at all. For example, if I copy a sample from someone else and crop even just a fraction of it, it is not a match anymore. Still, there are plenty of matches. A lot, actually.

More than a third of the samples were used in two songs or more. Many of them are from the ST-01 sample pack that was extremely popular in the early Amiga years. Others are “chip samples” – tiny samples that are looped to produce beeps and stuff. Here’s a top-5 list to give you an idea:

Great to finally see Popsnare2 in the charts! And looking further down the charts, ST-01 (and 02) keeps popping up. It’s not surprising, because there were a lot of people making mod files in those days, and it wasn’t easy to record your own samples or modify them.

What surprised me was the prevalence of chip samples. I didn’t really think that people making chip mods would just reuse the same sounds over and over. And, well, then I remembered that’s how I do it myself.

I, the Triangle Thief

Here‘s a chip sample with a triangle waveform, used by 51 songs in the archive. Most of them are mine. I remember that this sound used to be part of my “palette” back in the days. (still is, tbh) I don’t know where it came from. But looking at other songs using the sample, it’s safe to say that I didn’t exactly sample it myself. 4mat used it for chip mods like Anarchymenu_06, and I’m pretty sure that’s where I blatantly stole it from. So my thoughts and copyright prayers are with 4mat in these troubling times. I hope he can find it in his heart one day to forgive me. :–)

Samples don’t really have names in mods. I mean, they do, but they are mostly used for writing messages to the listener. So when millions of sample names are listed alphabetically you get stuff like this:

On the other hand, if you list all the names that a sample has been given you get fragmented poetry like this:

It was common to make a sort of animation with the sample names. As you scrolled through the sample names, it would look animated.

Some listings are a bit like ASCII art:

Well, I’m pretty sure I’m going to spend way too much time playing around with this. And I hope this project will continue to grow. Some ideas moving forward could be:

  • Set “master names” to known samples (ST-01/02 in particular)
  • Include artists in the database, so you can see eg which artists that use the same samples
  • Expand the “exact matching”
  • Playing samples
  • Links to mod-files

Big up to Fred for making this!

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