Volca-Freesound

Volca-Freesound is an online app to load samples on the Korg Volca Sample.

It selects random samples from the freesound.org database. So it’s not a sample manager like Vosyr or Caustic Editor. This app chooses random samples by itself. You can only control the maximum length of the samples and which Volca slots to overwrite, but not much else.

The app is a sort of ‘sample randomizer’. Use it to bring new life to your Volca Sample. Let it create a selection of new and unexpected samples that might inspire you to create new music.

The Volca-Freesound app is online at

https://hisschemoller.github.io/volca-freesound/

Freesound

Freesound.org is a collaborative audio database where anyone can upload audio samples and recordings and share them under Creative Commons licenses.

The Freesound API can be used to retrieve information and sounds from the database. That’s what I use for this app.

Freesound is an initiative by the Music Technology Group of Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona. For more information, please see their About page.

Korg Volca Sample

The Volca Sample is a sample player for use in music. The strange thing is that new samples can only be added through an obscure modem protocol. 

Luckily developer Panagiotis Tigas made the Syro.js JavaScript library that converts audio for use with the Volca Sample. It’s JavaScript, so it works in a web browser. It makes this app possible.

The Volca-Freesound app

Open the app at hisschemoller.github.io/volca-freesound/ in your browser. 

It’s just one screen with several settings:

  • Max. Duration
    • The maximum duration of the samples in seconds.Max. Duration
    • The selected Freesound samples will be between zero and the maximum.
  • Normalize
    • Maximizes the volume of the samples before transfer.
  • Double Speed
    • Converts the samples to double speed before transfer.
    • The samples take up only half the memory on the Volca Sample.
    • But they are pitched one octave up. So on the Volca they must be pitched down twelve steps to play back at their natural speed.
  • Sample slot selection
    • Select which of the 100 sample slots on the Volca will receive a new sample.
    • Select a range of slots.
    • Select all slots or clear all selections.
    • Select any combination of slots by clicking individual slots in the grid.

Sample transfer

After you’ve adjusted the settings to your liking,

  • Switch on the Volca Sample, of course.
  • Connect an audio cable from your computer’s audio output to the Volca’s ‘Sync in’.
  • Adjust your computer’s volume. Usually to a bit below maximum.
  • Make sure any equalizers or effects on the output are switched off.
  • Click the Start button in the app.

The download and transfer process now starts. In the app the currently transferring slot button turns red, and green when the transfer is done. The Volca shows the slot number in its LED display.

When all slots are finished, or when the Volca’s 4MB of memory is full – whichever comes first – the process is complete.

Press the FUNCTION button on the Volca to exit transfer mode, so you can preview the new samples.

The whole process is also demonstrated in this tutorial:

Transfer receipt

After transfer ends a Receipt button appears below the Start button.

The receipt is a text file with information about the downloaded samples, such as license type and Freesound URL.

Freesound audio files can have different types of licenses, depending on the choice of the owner and uploader of the file. If you end up using a sample in a released song it will be necessary to know if there are restrictions to its use.

The files downloaded by the app are 128kbps MP3 previews of the sound, which I think is a good enough quality for a slightly lo-fi 12 bit sampler like the Volca Sample.
If you like a sample and decide to use it in a higher fidelity music production, you will need a way to find the source of that sample.

If you create a Freesound account and log in, you will be able to download the sound in the highest quality available.

If you forget to download your receipt it will be almost impossible to to ever find back the information about your samples.

Open source

Volca-Freesound is an open source project. You can find the source code at

https://github.com/hisschemoller/volca-freesound

I wrote this app to get experience using the React framework and Redux state management. I used Kriasoft’s React Starter Kit as a base to build the app on.

Notes

The  Freesound API allows for 2000 requests a day. So if it’s a busy day the app may stop working at some point. In that case nothing can be done but to wait for a new day.

Take care with the computer volume. The modulated audio signal sounds quite harsh and loud if accidentally played over speakers.

Finally, here’s a demo song I made with the Korg Volca Sample, using only sounds that were downloaded by the app from Freesound.

2 Comments

Wouter,

Thank you! If you create some music with the Freesound sounds, I would love to hear the results.

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