This free plugin uses AI to generate music samples from text prompts

You can also drag and drop in old sounds for inspiration.

The devs behind AI-based sample editing software Samplab are back with a free VST3 plugin that generates samples from text prompts. The appropriately-named TextToSample is a plugin that opens inside your DAW or as a standalone tool, allowing you to type, say, “bubbly synth melody” to create a, well, bubbly synth melody to do with as you see fit.

TextToSample utilizes Meta’s open-source AI-based sound generation toolset, MusicGen, and was trained using data provided by the algorithm. You can also drag and drop pre-existing sounds into the plugin and have it generate related samples, in addition to typing out commands.

The UI is extremely minimal and sparse, which makes it easy to use, but does present some inherent limitations. For instance, it doesn’t take pre-existing music on your track into account, so your first, second, and even third attempts will likely not match the tone you are going for. It also has trouble recognizing basic music concepts like keys, scales and BPM. Just like most AI-creation platforms, you aren’t going to get a perfect match right away. You’ll have to tweak, augment and provide further instructions, bit by bit, until satisfied.

However, when you get there, it’s pretty darn fun, creating the kinds of happy accidents you’d never stumble into on your own. Check out the demo video and that little flourish of guitar at the tail end of the sample as an example.

This is an AI tool in the year 2023, so there are some bugs. During experiments, we ran into issues like the plugin adding drums when we clearly stated that we didn’t want percussion. To that end, Samplab says the tool is not intended to “replace human musicians, which it’s not capable of doing anyway.” It’s free, though, so there's no harm in checking it out, and the technology should improve as more people use it.