Part of the logic behind the way MSP works with samples is that multiple objects within a Max patcher can access the same sample memory of a single buffer~ object. This makes it quite easy to implement polyphony within a sampler playback patcher, as shown in this tutorial.
Loading a sample
Take a look at the tutorial patcher. As with the previous tutorial, this one uses a buffer~ object (named , in this case), to store a sample that can be accessed by other objects. Rather than recording into the buffer~ we've instructed it to load in a sample (called "drumLoop.aif") when the patcher loads. The message to buffer~ differs from the message in that it resizes the buffer~ object's memory to accomodate the entire soundfile being read; while in this tutorial this would make no difference, the two messages behave differently once you begin loading and unloading samples into the same buffer~ object.
If we take a look at the loaded sample, we see that it seems to contain four sounds, equally spaced in time about a second apart. In this patcher, this sample is accessed by a series of three different play~ objects, all named after our buffer~ object... these three play~ objects are integrated into the patcher logic to play back different parts of the sample.
A simple drum machine
Because all three of our play~ objects are capable of accessing the same buffer~ contents, they can be triggered simultaneously and create a polyphonic sound. The rest of the patcher logic simulates a very simple aleatoric drum machine, which uses random objects driven from a metro to trigger parts of the buffer~ based on the boxes. The drum machine uses random objects to define a probability of a sound event for the bass drum (one chance in three), the snare (one chance in four), and the hi-hats (two chances in three, equally divided between the two sounds).
The MSP sampling architecture allows for any number of sample playback objects to access the contents of the same buffer~ object. As a result, you can use multiple play~ objects to simultaneously access sample data to create a polyphonic texture. Creating audio files that contain samples at regular time intervals makes it easy to set up "banks" of samples within a single file, accessible from MSP by reading at different points in a buffer~ sample.