How to Create a Melody or Bassline Using the Sampler’s “16 Levels” Function


The “16 Levels” function in samplers has long been a game-changing feature for beatmakers and music producers. This powerful tool allows you to manipulate a single sample across multiple pads, thus creating unique melodies or basslines with ease. In this article, we will explore how to use the “16 Levels” function effectively to create melodies and basslines, the benefits it offers, and tips for getting the most out of this versatile feature.

I. Understanding the “16 Levels” Function

The “16 Levels” function is a feature available in many samplers, including the iconic Akai MPC series and modern software-based samplers such as Native Instruments’ Maschine. It enables you to map a single sample across 16 pads or keys, with each pad assigned a different pitch, velocity, or other parameter.

Here’s a breakdown of how the “16 Levels” function works:

1. Load a sample:

First, choose a sample you want to manipulate. This could be a one-shot instrument hit, a vocal phrase, or any other sound you wish to incorporate into your composition.

2. Activate “16 Levels”:

Once the sample is loaded, engage the “16 Levels” function. This will automatically map the sample across 16 pads or keys, depending on your sampler’s layout.

3. Parameter selection:

Choose the parameter you want to manipulate. Some common options include pitch, velocity, filter cutoff, or envelope attack.

4. Create melodies or basslines:

Now that your sample is mapped across 16 pads or keys, you can start playing the pads to create melodies or basslines. Each pad will trigger the sample with a different value for the selected parameter, providing a unique sound for your composition.

II. Benefits of Using the “16 Levels” Function

There are several advantages to using the “16 Levels” function in your music production process:

1. Creative possibilities:

The “16 Levels” function allows you to experiment with a single sample in ways you may not have imagined. You can create various melodies and basslines without needing multiple samples or instruments.

2. Efficient workflow:

By using one sample and manipulating it through the “16 Levels” function, you can achieve a consistent sound and save time on searching for and loading additional samples or instruments.

3. Unique textures:

Adjusting the parameters for each pad can lead to interesting textures and variations in your melodies or basslines, adding depth and character to your tracks.

III. Tips for Creating Melodies and Basslines with the “16 Levels” Function

1. Choose the right sample:

The foundation of a great melody or bassline using the “16 Levels” function lies in selecting the right sample. Look for samples with a clear pitch and tone, such as a piano hit, a plucked string, or a synth note.

2. Experiment with parameters:

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different parameters when using the “16 Levels” function. Adjusting pitch, velocity, or filter settings can yield a wide range of unique sounds and textures.

3. Use velocity sensitivity:

If your sampler allows for it, use velocity sensitivity to add dynamic variation to your melodies or basslines. This can make your performance feel more expressive and natural.

4. Layer samples:

Consider layering multiple samples with different settings in the “16 Levels” function to create more complex and interesting sounds.

5. Utilize MIDI effects:

Apply MIDI effects such as arpeggiators or chord generators to further enhance your melodies or basslines created with the “16 Levels” function.

6. Record and edit:

Record your performance and then edit the MIDI data to fine-tune your melodies or basslines. This can help you achieve the perfect balance and flow in your composition.

IV. Applying the “16 Levels” Function to Different Music Genres

The “16 Levels” function can be utilized in various music genres, enabling you to create unique and genre-specific melodies and basslines. Here are some ideas for using the “16 Levels” function in different musical contexts:

  1. Hip-hop: Load a sample of a classic piano or electric piano sound and use the “16 Levels” function to create soulful melodies that complement your drum beats.
  2. Electronic dance music (EDM): Experiment with samples from various synthesizers and map them across the pads using the “16 Levels” function. This can help you create catchy leads, hooks, or basslines that drive your EDM tracks.
  3. Ambient: Choose atmospheric samples like pads or string sounds and use the “16 Levels” function to create evolving textures and soundscapes.
  4. Jazz: Load samples of acoustic instruments such as saxophones, upright bass, or trumpet, and use the “16 Levels” function to create expressive melodies or basslines with a jazz flavor.
  5. Reggae/Dub: Map a sample of a guitar or keyboard skank across the pads using the “16 Levels” function, and manipulate the filter cutoff or resonance parameters to create spacey, psychedelic effects.

V. Overcoming Common Challenges

  1. Unwanted artifacts: When using the “16 Levels” function, you may encounter unwanted artifacts such as clicks, pops, or distortion. To minimize these artifacts, choose high-quality samples, avoid extreme pitch shifts, and use envelopes or fade-ins/outs to smooth out the sound.
  2. Timing issues: To keep your melodies and basslines in time with the rest of your composition, practice your finger drumming skills or use quantization features in your sampler or DAW.
  3. Mixing challenges: When using the “16 Levels” function, it’s essential to ensure that your melodies or basslines sit well in the mix. Apply EQ, compression, and other mixing techniques to achieve a balanced and polished sound.

VI. Expanding Your Creativity with the “16 Levels” Function

As you become more familiar with the “16 Levels” function, you can explore additional ways to use it in your music production process:

  1. Drum programming: Use the “16 Levels” function to create dynamic and expressive drum patterns by mapping different drum hits across the pads and manipulating their pitch or velocity.
  2. Sound design: The “16 Levels” function can be a powerful tool for sound design. Experiment with different samples and parameters to create unique and inspiring sounds for your projects.
  3. Resampling: Record your performances using the “16 Levels” function and resample them back into your sampler or DAW. This can lead to even more creative possibilities and further manipulation of your sounds.


The “16 Levels” function in samplers is a versatile and powerful tool that can help you create engaging melodies and basslines with ease. By understanding the basics of this feature, experimenting with different parameters, and applying the techniques discussed in this article, you can elevate your music production skills and create unique compositions that stand out in any genre. So, load up your favorite sampler, engage the “16 Levels” function, and let your creativity run wild!

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Born in 1982, he is a Japanese beatmaker and music producer who produces hiphop and rap beats, and also produces and consults music artists. He also researches web marketing strategies for small businesses through music activities and personal blogs. Because he grew up internationally, he understands English. His hobbies are muscle training, photo processing, WordPress customization, K-Pop, web3, NFT. He also loves Korea.

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