Sampling whole instruments for Octatrack

First of all, Greetings All!
This is my first post, I’ve just purchased my Octatrack MKII yesterday, and I already love it!

I haven’t had much time to explore all the different ways I want to play it, and I am curious to know how you use it with an instrument sample bank.

I am planning to record my friend’s piano to be able to play it as an instrument in the Octatrack, but I am unsure how to sample it in a way that makes sense to playback with the OT.

Here’s what I had in mind originally:

Sample every single note on a couple of octaves, and play it back as a static sliced up track, every every slice is a single note.
To save space I am sure I could use OT’s pitch functionality, but how many semitones could I go up or down without loosing (too much) quality?
On the other hand playing slices as keys would much more enjoyable than having to pitch trigs manually.

Chords! : I had the idea to do the same kind of sampling, each chords or maybe 5 chords per octave and slice/pitch them, having one whole file with major chords, and another one with minor chords.
Ideally I would love to have major and minor chords on the same track so I could play them, but it might be confusing.

Ok, does it make any sense for you? :slight_smile:

Anyway, let me know what you think about my approach, and what is your experience with that kind of sampling, I will do my own tests and report back here if that can be of interest to anyone.


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Hi, I’ve had my mk1 a few weeks. I think that the OT is designed in a way that requires you to take a less is more approach. It doesn’t want you sample every note on a piano, it wants you to sample 15 seconds of you playing it and then use all of its tools and functions to rearrange and mess it up.

Good luck and have fun whatever you do


Hej, thanks for the answer.

Yes it makes sense, given the OT’s workflow.

I just want to see if it can become the starting point of my creations, and load the CF card with a bunch of pre recorded “instruments” that I can access easily.
I think I can mix it up and create 1 file with a selection of chords across a couple of octaves, keeping it relatively short.

Yes you can do all of the above. But it’s not a sampler in the way of Kontakt, Akai & Yamaha sampler… you can’t make a multi on the OT. it’s more like a Doctor Rex in Reason where you can slice things but you can’t play multiple sample without the use of more than 1 audio track. However, you can take the next step in between and prepare stuff like chords, notes (and slice then), section to re-arrange then… or you can buy a small cheap sampler or expander and play a piano with it, included chords because midi track can play more than one note so the best is attached to an expander for mimic a multi instrument


Not sure if @cuckoomusic has a specific video on this but I’m sure this is sort of along the lines of what he does with a few of his songs - a large sliced sample of synth notes that he kind of jams over the top of his beats. Sure you have the mono playback issue mentioned above but with some crafty use of FX and the likes you’ll get pleasing results.

Synth sounds will work better but Im sure with some trial and error you’ll get joy out of piano sounds and the likes.

this advice is a breath of fresh air :slight_smile:
that said, various explorations and approaches await and beckon for all individuals.


The OTs the kind of thing where you can sample yourself sitting down to the piano, clearing your throat, opening up the cover of the keys, playing one note, and with that create an entire track with beats, melodies, sound effects, glitched out rhythms, and more…

You can do what you would like to do in various ways, but if I were you I’d take a step back and start by simply exploring the various features of the OT and how they work. Maybe sample a note and a chord and see what you can do with it. Maybe add some beats with factory samples… Create some scenes, have fun!

Basically I wouldn’t spend too much time setting up anything before you have a good idea of what you can do with it. By starting very simply and learning things you’ll gain a better idea of how to go about doing what you would like to do, or you’ll change your mind completely and become more excited about some other idea you have…

Are you wanting to make full tunes with beats and everything on the OT, or do you want to use it more as a single instrument for certain duties to be used with other gear? Or maybe you don’t even know yet?
Perhaps tell us more about the type of music you play and what is your vision of using the OT / what place do you see it having in your rig?


I have a great method for this. I record 2-4 octaves of just the C minor scale (I work mostly in minor) which I can then transpose up and down and trigger slices to my melodies are always in key. I do this with c minor chords, as well. It’s working fantastically.


you have any audio examples you could upload ?

Hi Open_Mike, that is a very valid point, that I need to take time to explore the new possibilities I have with the OT. And I am doing so already.

I am composing rock music for my band and electronic music on my own, there will be mainy different ways I will use the OT for these purposes.

I am as well planning for a trip, where I want to be able to use my OT as a studio and as an instrument, hence the pre sampling necesity. When I start composing from a beat the framework of the OT will be perfect, but if I have a melody in mind and I am far away from my guitar, that requires a bit of preparation.

Or maybe not! I guess I’ll know more in a couple of weeks once I have experimented with it a bit more.

Anyway, I am 2 days in my MKII, and I absolutely love it!


Hi slicetwo, thanks for your answer.
This is a good idea, do you have track templates that you can import into your project, with the instrument already sliced up? is that actually a thing in the OT, track template? (I’ll take a look in the manual after posting that comment :slight_smile: )

I was thinking to create one sample file with 2 octaves of minor scale, and 2 octaves of major scale + a 2 major chords and 2 minor chords of each scales, and slice it like that:

slices 1-16: C0 minor scale Trig 1 to 8 + C0 minor scale chords Trig 9 to 16
slices 17-32: C2 minor scale Trig 1 to 8 + C2 minor scale chords Trig 9 to 16
slices 33-48: C0 major scale Trig 1 to 8 + C0 major scale chords Trig 9 to 16
slices 49-64: C2 major scale Trig 1 to 8 + C2 major scale chords Trig 9 to 16

I could even do only C0 and C3, since the pitch -/+12 would help to cover the gaps.
Pitching an octave is not the best, but in that case it is just to throw ideas together, not to have the perfect sound.

I know, I know, its miles away for the intuitive workflow of the OT, but once thats done then the possiblities will be endless :smiley:

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No templates or anything. Since I make them in my DAW, they’re tempo synced and easy to slice on the OT.

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If I were you id buy a cheap dynamic mic with xlr to 1/4" cable. Mic is robust so good to travel with and infinitely more enjoyable/exciting to use there and then than pre-preparing piano sounds in my opinion.

I don’t want to tell you what to do with your equipment or music but I definitely want to encourage you to think about how to play to the OT’s strengths in order to get the most out of your new machine

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Sadly, can’t play slices from an external keyboard. You can, however, play slices using OT’s trig buttons as an ersatz keyboard:

With your sliced sample loaded in a track, set AMP REL to a low number. Now hold function and press the down arrow repeatedly until you see SLICES. Now you can use the trigs to play each slice. If you have more than 16 slices, use the SCALE button on the far right to find more slices.

REC+PLAY enters live record mode so you can as you play.

Just do it. So many great workflows have been created when someone asks him/herself “What if I do this …?”

That’s how I came up with a way to use the MIDI sequencer’s trigs to play 8 one-finger chords on an attached poly synth. First I enter PLAYS FREE mode, DIRECT. Then I set up each trig (EDIT: I meant to write “track”) with one of the chords of the Cm scale, so I can quickly come up with chord progressions. Or I replace one or two trigs (EDIT: I meant to write “track”) with chords from another key to create modulations. (EDIT: I skipped a step. I then play the MIDI trigs — the last 8 trig keys — to trigger one-finger chords on the attached poly synth). When I find the progression I like, I record it to the MIDI sequencer and sample the sequence as it plays back.

I also like filling each of the 8 audio tracks with a different sound, each playing a different note of a scale. Again in PLAYS FREE mode DIRECT, I use the sample trigs (the last 8 trigs) to play chords.

Each note of the chord has a different sound, so it’s not like playing a poly synth. It’s more like the sound of a three-part horn or string section, where each mono instrument contributes it’s own timbre to make the chord sound fuller. So instead of hearing the 3 notes of a piano, I’ll have a sine wave in the bass, a buzzy saw playing a third and a filtered saw playing a minor 7th. And each element of the chord has its own set of LFOs and FX to add complementary movement and depth.

So go ahead and explore. OT has so many ways to do things that you’re bound to find your own unique way. Take @OpenMike’s advice, though, and learn the rudiments first. Then get ready for a lifetime of exploring sound and rhythm. Sounds corny but it’s true.

Have fun!


Hmmm sounds like kind of thing I want to do but midi plays free direct just freezes on mine, at least if sequencer is running. Maybe I’ve misremembered. I’ll dig up the thread about it and have another go.

What OS version are you on? I’m on 1.25H

Whoa. it was a monster can of worms bug

Maybe a subtly different set up to what you have going. Anyway midi plays free direct is in theory very powerful. got to be worth another look :grinning:

After a couple of somewhat OT posts just wanted to say that I’d really like to buy old style ‘chromatic use’ samples for the octa. By which I mean single note instrument samples with a loop point already set for sustain. I use these a lot on old samplers, seems they were the norm in the 90s. don’t really care that they can be unconvincing. I like 'em

The long single hit instrument samples that I have acquired recently aren’t as good because the decay is predetermined.

As for poly playing /full chromatic/ midi-triggered slices / midi triggered slots - I believe Retrokits will one day make their volca sample cable do good things for the Octatrack

They recently added a feature to allow multiple parts on the volca sample to be used up in providing polyphony to one part. V cool.

There’s a thread on here where Retrokits themselves expressed an interest. But I don’t think he/she has an Octatrack. Wondering if there’s enough of us wanting midi triggered slices to buy them one!?

Here it is

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Also, check out this thread Triggering slices with midi notes?
It’s mentioned that the Midi Solutions Event Processor Plus can already do this.


Yes, EPP works like a charm mapping Cc48 and Cc17 to a incoming midi note.
You can also add other functionality, such as mapping pitch bend to Cc16 pitch…


OK I had a couple of month now to familiarize myself with the OT and experiment, and I realize how much what you mentioned in that thread is true! I think I only scratched the surface, but the possibilities that the OT offer are tremendous! And if it is hard to use it the way I though I’d do before I bought it, it offers me so many new ways to create music and just be creative differently.

And I got so hooked by the elektron workflow that I got an A4 to keep it company :slightly_smiling_face: