Time Stretching and Pitch Shifting: How to Make Samples Fit Your Beat

Browsing through piles of samples to find the perfect sound for your beat is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. To hear how a sample sounds in context with your beat it has to match your beat’s key and tempo. The best way to do that is with pitch shifting and time […] The post Time Stretching and Pitch Shifting: How to Make Samples Fit Your Beat appeared first on LANDR Blog.

Time Stretching and Pitch Shifting: How to Make Samples Fit Your Beat

Browsing through piles of samples to find the perfect sound for your beat is like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

To hear how a sample sounds in context with your beat it has to match your beat’s key and tempo. The best way to do that is with pitch shifting and time stretching.

The best part, is free time stretching and pitch shifting tools exist to help you independently change the tempo or key of any sample you find.



It’s remarkable how this technology changes everything about beat making.

In this article, we’ll explore why time stretching and pitch shifting tools are so valuable to every music producer—and we’ll look at specific ways you can use them in your music-making workflow.

What is time stretching?

In audio production, time stretching refers to a form of audio processing that extends or contracts the duration of a sample or sound without changing its pitch or tonal characteristics.

Time stretching technology uses complex algorithms, mathematics and even AI to warp the fabric of time without changing a sample’s pitch.

What is pitch shifting?

Pitch shifting is the opposite of time stretching because it changes the pitch of a sample or sound without affecting its duration or timing.

Again, pitch-shifting technology uses its own set of complex mathematical operations to increase or decrease the pitch of a sample.

It’s remarkable how this technology changes everything about beat making.

Why time stretching and pitch changes everything

The advent of time stretching and pitch shifting marked a major change in music production.

With analog media like vinyl or tape, speeding up or slowing down a sample always resulted in a change of pitch.

Of course, that sped-up vocal sound was used heavily and inspired entire genres of music.

Many vintage recordings of 60s bands like The Beatles used varispeed recording techniques.

Drum and bass music almost exclusively uses sped-up drum breaks to create impossibly fast, hi pitch drum parts.

But those varispeed techniques were limited because they made it hard to exactly match any sample to any track.

Varispeed techniques are limited because they make it hard to exactly match any sample to any track.

That’s why today’s pitch shifting and time stretching technology is so incredibly valuable, especially because it’s accessible to any producer through online apps, plugins and DAWs.

How to use pitch-shifting and time-stretching

Artists use time stretching and pitch shifting in many ways.

Here’s a handful of use cases you’ll hear most often.

Matching to a new key

Being able to match any sample to any key opens up so many worlds of possibilities, it’s kind of mind-blowing.

Being able to match any sample to any key opens up so many worlds of possibilities, it’s kind of mind-blowing.

When you browse a sample market place you don’t have to limit yourself and filter out different keys.

Instead, you can use whatever sounds you encounter and not worry about what key they’re in.

Making a sample minor or major

This is huge. Being able to change a sample from minor to major is such an interesting capability because it creates new samples with an entirely different energy.

Much like key matching, the ability to change a sample to its relative minor or major key opens up so many doors.

Pitch shifting vocals

Pitch shifting technology changed the game when it came to vocal processing.

Yes—legendary plugins like Auto-Tune use this kind of technology to shift each note in a vocal performance to be on-pitch with the track.

Today Auto-Tune Access can even shift vocals in real-time, making it possible to monitor your affected voice.

Matching BPM

The most obvious application for time stretching technology is matching BPM between different samples without changing pitch.

Again this eliminates some major limitations when it comes to finding the perfect sample for your track.

Free time stretching and pitch shifting tools

So how can you benefit from the wonder that is time stretching and pitch shifting?

Here’s the best tools we’ve seen for this type of audio processing

1. Creator

creator beatmaker

Creator is the new beat making tool for LANDR Samples—and it’s completely free to use!

Creator is the new beat making tool for LANDR Samples—and it’s completely free to use!

It allows you to compile up to eight samples from LANDR’s extensive sample library and hear how they sound together no matter their key or BPM.

The multitrack looping tool comes with built-in time stretching and pitch shifting technology to make it easy to audition samples together and download them to play within your DAW.

2. Auto-Tune

autotune access

As mentioned previously, Auto-Tune uses pitch shifting technology to manipulate the human voice and tune it to a specific key.

3. Some DAWs

DAWs like Ableton and Logic come stock with some pretty impressive pitch shift and time-stretching technology of their own.

Logic is well known for its flex time feature and Ableton built its name on its audio warp function.

If you’re picking out a DAW to use for your own music, we’ve discussed the best DAWs in past articles.

4. Paul’s Extreme Stretch

Here’s an interesting one that takes time stretching to the extreme. Paul’s Extreme Stretch makes it possible to do some very heavy stretching to audio snippets.

And while it’s used by musicians to stretch audio, meme-makers have used it to make those incredibly strange ultra slowed down memes.

It’s definitely a tool to check out if you’re getting into sound design!



The last sound bender

Time stretching is a powerful technology that gives you the ability to use any sound you want, anywhere you want.

It’s incredible how many options you have to add weird and interesting samples that might not even be in the same key to your tracks.

Especially with free tools like Creator!

Really the best way to learn how to use time stretching and pitch shifting is to try it on your own tracks.

So don’t be afraid to hit the studio and see what you can make!

I’ll cap this article off with some meditative, beautiful stretched-out piano made with Paul’s Extreme Stretch.