Second Beta version now available: 1.0 beta 2 (December 10th, 2010)
Cutupsampler is a program for Mac OS X that performs a cut-up of a sound file and maps the various cuts to keys on a MIDI keyboard or computer keyboard. (It should run on Windows, too, if you have Max/MSP and you download the source file.)
Cutupsampler is about embracing unpredictability as artistic inspiration; the software fractures your sound and you put the pieces together in new ways, performing them by hand.
Whereas most samplers are concerned with playing a particular sample at musical pitches on the keyboard, or playing discrete samples that are mapped individually to specific keys, Cutupsampler's approach is to divide a single sound among multiple keys — fracturing the original sound, without any attempt to transpose the cuts to musical pitches.
When you load a sound into Cutupsampler, it slices the sound up into a controllable number of cuts. However, with Cutupsampler, some amount of control is deliberately lost to the cut-up phenomenon, since sound is mapped out evenly among the specified number of keys. Aspects of the original sound can be discovered by performing its fragments outside of their original sequence. Some cuts may be useful to you and some may not. You can experiment with changing the number of cuts, and seeing where their boundaries lie, by changing the number of keys over which the original sample is mapped. There is no ability at the moment to control where the cuts are made (for example, at beats or transients, or spaced out by hand at irregular intervals), but it is possible that such functionality could be added in a later version. Cutupsampler's driving design goal up to this point has been to provide more of a cut-up experience, where a certain degree of control is relinquished to the act of (semi) randomly cutting up the sound and then playing with the fragments.
Though it does not attempt to be an all-purpose sampler or synthesizer, it has a number of options for shaping its sound in real-time. You can shift its playback speed, play it forward or reverse, make the cuts loop while their keys are pressed, assign all of the keys an amplitude envelope, and add tremolo, ring modulation, and vibrato effects.
Cutupsampler is free software, distributed under the GNU General Public License. If you would care to make a contribution to me by way of the button to the right, doing so would be hugely appreciated, and would help me to spend more time improving Cutupsampler and releasing new updates.
Cutupsampler was made using Max/MSP.
Demo sound recordings made with Cutupsampler
This one was made using this sample of a flock of geese.
The sample used in this example was a recording of a radio preacher.
And this was made with a recording of some cats being fed.