In music, sampling is the reuse of a portion (or sample) of a sound recording in another recording. Samples may comprise elements such as rhythm, melody, speech, sounds, or entire bars of music, and may be layered, equalized, sped up or slowed down, repitched, looped, or otherwise manipulated. They are usually integrated using hardware (samplers) or software such as digital audio workstations.
A process similar to sampling originated in the 1940s with musique concrète , experimental music created by splicing and looping tape. The mid-20th century saw the introduction of keyboard instruments that played sounds recorded on tape, such as the Mellotron. The term sampling was coined in the late 1970s by the creators of the Fairlight CMI, a synthesizer with the ability to record and play back short sounds. As technology improved, cheaper stand-alone samplers with more memory emerged, such as the E-mu Emulator, Akai S950, and Akai MPC.
Sampling is a foundation of hip hop music, which emerged with 1980s producers sampling funk and soul records, particularly drum breaks. Sampling has since influenced many genres of music, particularly electronic music and pop. Samples such as the Amen break, "Funky Drummer" drum break, and orchestra hit have been used in thousands of recordings. The first album created entirely from samples, Endtroducing by DJ Shadow, was released in 1996.
Sampling without permission can infringe copyright or may be fair use. The process of acquiring permission for a sample is known as clearance, a potentially complex and costly process; samples from well-known sources are now often prohibitively expensive. Courts have taken different positions on whether sampling without permission is permitted. In Grand Upright Music, Ltd. v. Warner Bros. Records Inc , 780 F. Supp. 182 (S.D.N.Y. 1991) and Bridgeport Music, Inc. v. Dimension Films , 410 F.3d 792 (6th Cir. 2005), the courts ruled that unlicensed sampling constitutes copyright infringement. However, in VMG Salsoul v Ciccone , 824 F.3d 871 (9th Cir. 2016) found that unlicensed samples constituted de minimis copying, and therefore did not infringe copyright.
Foley, the reproduction of sound effects, had existed since the 1920s. In the 1940s, French composer Pierre Schaeffer developed musique concrète , an experimental form of music created by recording sounds to tape, splicing them, and manipulating them to create sound collages. He used sounds from sources such as the human body, locomotives, and kitchen utensils.The method also involved tape loops, splicing lengths of tape end to end so a sound could be played indefinitely. Schaeffer developed the Phonogene, which played loops at 12 different pitches triggered by a keyboard.
Composers including John Cage, Edgar Varèse, Karheinz Stockhausen and Iannis Xenakis experimented with musique concrète,and Bebe and Louis Barron used it to create the first totally electronic film soundtrack, for the 1956 science fiction film Forbidden Planet . Musique concrète was brought to a mainstream audience by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, which used these early sampling techniques to produce soundtracks for shows including Doctor Who .
In the 1960s, Jamaican dub reggae producers such as King Tubby and Lee "Scratch" Perry began using pre-recorded samples of reggae rhythms to produce riddim tracks, which were then deejayed over.Jamaican immigrants introduced dub sampling techniques to American hip hop music in the 1970s. British producer Brian Eno cited German musician Holger Czukay's experiments with Dictaphones and shortwave radios as examples of early sampling.
The Guardian described the Chamberlin as the first sampler, developed by the English engineer Harry Chamberlin in the 1940s. The Chamberlin used a keyboard to trigger a series of tape decks, each containing eight seconds of recorded sound. Similar technology was popularised in the 60s with the Mellotron.In 1969, the English engineer Peter Zinovieff developed the first digital sampler, the EMS Musys.
The term sample was coined by Kim Ryrie and Peter Vogel to describe a feature of their Fairlight CMI synthesizer, launched in 1979.While developing the Fairlight, Vogel recorded around a second of a piano piece from a radio broadcast, and discovered that he could imitate a piano by playing the recording back at different pitches. He recalled in 2005:
It sounded remarkably like a piano, a real piano. This had never been done before ... By today's standards it was a pretty awful piano sound, but at the time it was a million times more like a piano than anything any synthesiser had churned out. So I rapidly realised that we didn't have to bother with all the synthesis stuff. Just take the sounds, whack them in the memory and away you go.
The Fairlight developers used the term sampler to describe the technical process of the instrument, rather than how users would use the feature.Compared to later samplers, the Fairlight offered limited control over samples; it allowed control over pitch and envelope, and could only record a few seconds of sound. However, the sampling function became its most popular feature. Though the concept of reusing recordings in larger recordings was not new, the Fairlight's design and built-in sequencer simplified the process.
The Fairlight inspired competition, improving sampling technology and driving down prices.Early competitors included the E-mu Emulator and the Akai S950. Drum machines such as the Oberheim DMX and Linn LM-1 incorporated samples of drum kits and percussion rather than generating sounds from circuits. Early samplers could store samples of only a few seconds in length, but this increased with improved memory.
In 1988, Akai released the first MPC sampler,which allowed users to assign samples to pads and trigger them independently, similarly to playing a keyboard or drum kit. It was followed by competing samplers from companies including Korg, Roland and Casio. Today, most samples are recorded and edited using digital audio workstations such as Pro Tools and Ableton Live.
Sampling has influenced all genres of music.It is a particularly important part of pop, hip hop, and electronic music, equivalent to the importance of the guitar in rock. It is a fundamental element of remix culture. Commonly sampled elements include strings, basslines, drum loops, vocal hooks, or entire bars of music, especially from soul records. Samples may be layered, equalized, sped up or slowed down, repitched, looped, or otherwise manipulated. As sampling technology has improved, the possibilities for manipulation have grown.
Using the Fairlight, the "first truly world-changing sampler",producer Trevor Horn became the "key architect" in incorporating sampling into pop music. Other users of the Fairlight included Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel, Thomas Dolby, Duran Duran, Herbie Hancock, Todd Rundgren, Icehouse and Ebn Ozn. In the 1980s, samples were incorporated into synthesizers and music workstations, such as in the bestselling Korg M1, released in 1988.
The Akai MPC, released in 1988, had a major influence on the development of electronic and hip hop music,allowing artists to create elaborate tracks without other instruments, a studio, or formal music knowledge. Its designers anticipated that users would sample short sounds, such as individual notes or drum hits, to use as building blocks for compositions. However, users began sampling longer passages of music. In the words of Greg Milner, author of Perfecting Sound Forever, musicians "didn't just want the sound of John Bonham's kick drum, they wanted to loop and repeat the whole of 'When the Levee Breaks'." Roger Linn, designer of the MPC, said: "It was a very pleasant surprise. After 60 years of recording, there are so many prerecorded examples to sample from. Why reinvent the wheel?"
Stevie Wonder's 1979 album Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants may have been the first album to make extensive use of samples.The Japanese electronic band Yellow Magic Orchestra were pioneers in sampling, constructing music by cutting fragments of sounds and looping them; their album Technodelic (1981) is an early example of an album consisting mostly of samples. My Life in the Bush of Ghosts (1981) by David Byrne and Brian Eno is another important early work of sampling, incorporating samples of sources including Arabic singers, radio DJs and an exorcist. Though Eno acknowledged earlier examples of sampling, he felt the album's innovation was to make samples "the lead vocal". Big Audio Dynamite pioneered sampling in rock and pop with their 1985 album This Is Big Audio Dynamite . Guinness World Records cites DJ Shadow's 1996 album Endtroducing as the first created entirely from samples.
Sampling is the foundation of hip hop, which emerged in the 1980s.The sampling culture of hip hop has been likened to the origins of blues and rock, which were created by repurposing existing music. Guardian journalist David McNamee wrote that, in the 1980s, sampling in hip hop had been a political act, the "working-class black answer to punk".
Before the rise of sampling, DJs had used turntables to loop breaks from records, which MCs would rap over.Compilation albums such as Ultimate Breaks and Beats comprised tracks with drum breaks and solos intended for sampling, and were aimed at DJs and hip hop producers. In 1986, the tracks "South Bronx", "Erik B is President" and "It's a Demo" sampled the funk and soul tracks of James Brown, particularly a drum break from "Funky Drummer" And The Winstons Amen Brother, helping popularize the technique. The advent of affordable samplers such as the Akai MPC (1988) made looping easier. With a ten-second sample length and a distinctive "gritty" sound, the E-mu SP-1200, released in 1987, was used extensively by East Coast producers during the golden age of hip hop of the late 1980s and early 90s.
The drum pattern in Led Zeppelin's recording of "When the Levee Breaks", played by John Bonham, is one of the most widely sampled in music, used by artists including the Beastie Boys, Dr. Dre, Eminem and Massive Attack.A seven-second drum break in the 1969 track "Amen, Brother", known as the Amen break, became popular with American hip hop producers and then British jungle producers in the early 1990s. It has since been used in thousands of recordings, by rock bands such as Oasis and in theme tunes for television shows such as Futurama .
According to the site WhoSampled, which catalogs samples, James Brown is the most sampled artist of all time, appearing in more than 3000 tracks.The drum break from the 1970 James Brown song "Funky Drummer" is one of the most influential pieces of sampled music. The 1972 Lyn Collins song "Think (About It)", written by Brown, includes another widely sampled drum break, featuring the cries "Woo!" "Yeah!" by Brown and Bobby Byrd.
The most sampled track of all time is "Change the Beat" by Fab Five Freddy, which appears on over 1,150 tracks.Another common sample, the orchestra hit, originated as a sound on the Fairlight sampled from Stravinsky's 1910 orchestral work Firebird Suite and became a hip hop cliche. MusicRadar cited the Zero-G Datafiles sample libraries as a major influence on dance music in the early 90s, becoming the "de facto source of breakbeats, bass and vocal samples". According to the Independent , the American diva Loleatta Holloway had "undoubtedly the most sampled female voice in popular music", used in house and dance tracks such as "Ride on Time", the bestselling single of 1989.
To legally use a sample, an artist must acquire legal permission from the copyright holder, a potentially lengthy and complex process known as clearance.Sampling without permission can breach the copyright of the original sound recording, of the composition and lyrics, and of the performances, such as a rhythm or guitar riff. The moral rights of the original artist may also be breached if they are not credited or object to the sampling. In some cases, sampling is protected under American fair use laws, which grant "limited use of copyrighted material without permission from the rights holder".
Richard Lewis Spencer, who owned the copyright for the widely sampled Amen break, never received royalties for its use; he condemned the sampling as plagiarism,but later said it was flattering. Journalist Simon Reynolds likened the situation to "the man who goes to the sperm bank and unknowingly sires hundreds of children". In 1989, the Turtles sued De La Soul for using an uncleared sample on their album 3 Feet High and Rising. Turtles singer Mark Volman told the Los Angeles Times : "Sampling is just a longer term for theft. Anybody who can honestly say sampling is some sort of creativity has never done anything creative." The case was settled out of court and set a legal precedent that had a chilling effect on sampling in hip hop.
In 1991, songwriter Gilbert O'Sullivan sued rapper Biz Markie after he sampled O'Sullivan's "Alone Again (Naturally)" on the album I Need a Haircut . The court ruled that sampling without permission infringed copyright. Instead of asking for royalties, O'Sullivan forced Biz Markie's label Warner Bros to recall the album until the song was removed.Nelson George described it as the "most damaging example of anti-hip hop vindictiveness", which "sent a chill through the industry that is still felt". The Washington Post wrote in 2018 that "no court decision has changed the sound of pop music as much as this", likening it to banning a musical instrument.
Since the O'Sullivan lawsuit, samples on commercial recordings have typically been taken either from obscure recordings or cleared, an often expensive option only available to successful acts.According to the Guardian, "Sampling became risky business and a rich man's game, with record labels regularly checking if their musical property had been tea-leafed." For less successful artists, the legal implications of using samples pose obstacles; according to Fact, "For a bedroom producer, clearing a sample can be nearly impossible, both financially and in terms of administration."
The 1989 Beastie Boys album Paul's Boutique is composed almost entirely of samples, most of which were cleared "easily and affordably"; the clearance process would be much more expensive today.In 2000, jazz flautist James Newton filed a claim against the Beastie Boys' 1992 single "Pass the Mic", which samples his composition "Choir". The judge found that the sample, comprising six seconds and three notes, was de minimis and did not require clearance. Newton lost appeals in 2003 and 2004.
The Washington Post described the modern use of well known samples, such as on records by Kanye West, as an act of conspicuous consumption similar to flaunting cars or jewellery.West has been sued several times over his use of samples. Some have accused the law of restricting creativity, while others argue it forces producers to innovate. Sampling can help popularize the sampled work; for example, the Desiigner track "Panda" topped the Billboard Hot 100 after West sampled it on "Father Stretch My Hands, Pt. 2".
According to Fact, early hip hop sampling was governed by "unspoken" rules forbidding the sampling of recent records, reissues, other hip hop records, or from non-vinyl sources, among other restrictions.These rules were relaxed as younger producers took over: "For many producers today it is no longer a case of 'should I sample this?' but of 'can I get away with sampling this?'. Thus the ethics of sampling unravelled as the practice became ever more ubiquitous."
In 2019, the European Court of Justice ruled that producers Moses Pelham and Martin Haas had illegally sampled a drum sequence from the 1977 Kraftwerk track “Metal on Metal" for the Sabrina Setlur song "Nur Mir".The court ruled that permission was required for recognizable samples; modified, unrecognizable samples could still be used without authorisation.
To circumvent legal problems, producers may recreate a recording rather than sample it. This requires only the publisher's permission, and gives the artist more freedom to alter constituent components such as separate guitar and drum tracks.
Drum and bass is a genre of electronic music characterised by fast breakbeats with heavy bass and sub-bass lines, samples, and synthesizers. The genre grew out of the UK's jungle scene in the early 1990s.
Marlon Williams, better known by his stage name Marley Marl, is an American DJ, record producer, rapper and record label founder, primarily operating in hip hop music. Marlon grew up in Queensbridge housing projects located in Queens, New York] He became interested in music, by performing in local talent shows, during the early days of rap music.
Breakbeat is a broad type of electronic music that tends to utilize drum breaks sampled from early recordings of funk, jazz, and R&B. Breakbeats have been used in styles such as hip hop, jungle, drum and bass, big beat, breakbeat hardcore, and UK garage styles.
Digital music technology encompasses digital instruments, computers, electronic effects units, software, or digital audio equipment by a performer, composer, sound engineer, DJ, or record producer to produce, perform or record music. The term refers to electronic devices, instruments, computer hardware, and software used in performance, playback, recording, composition, mixing, analysis, and editing of music.
In electroacoustic pop, rock, and other kinds of music, a loop is a repeating section of sound material. Short sections of material can be repeated to create ostinato patterns. Longer sections can also be repeated: for example, a player might loop what they play on an entire verse of a song in order to then play along with it, accompanying himself.
The Fairlight CMI is a digital synthesizer, sampler, and digital audio workstation introduced in 1979 by Fairlight. It was based on a commercial licence of the Qasar M8 developed by Tony Furse of Creative Strategies in Sydney, Australia. It was one of the earliest music workstations with an embedded digital sampler, and is credited for coining the term sampling in music. It rose to prominence in the early 1980s and competed with the Synclavier from New England Digital.
A sampler is an electronic or digital musical instrument which uses sound recordings of real instrument sounds, excerpts from recorded songs or found sounds. The samples are loaded or recorded by the user or by a manufacturer. These sounds are then played back by means of the sampler program itself, a MIDI keyboard, sequencer or another triggering device to perform or compose music. Because these samples are usually stored in digital memory, the information can be quickly accessed. A single sample may often be pitch-shifted to different pitches to produce musical scales and chords.
"Funky Drummer" is a single released by James Brown in 1970. Its drum break, improvised by Clyde Stubblefield, is one of the most frequently sampled music recordings.
An orchestra hit, also known as an orchestral hit, orchestra stab, or orchestral stab, is a synthesized sound created through the layering of the sounds of a number of different orchestral instruments playing a single staccato note or chord. The orchestra hit sound was propagated by the use of early samplers, particularly the Fairlight CMI where it was known as the ORCH5 sample. The sound is used in pop, hip hop, jazz fusion, techno, and video game genres to accentuate passages of music.
Endtroducing..... is the debut album by American music producer DJ Shadow, released on September 16, 1996 by Mo' Wax. Compositionally, it is composed almost entirely of samples mostly from vinyl records, and features moody, atmospheric slow tracks and heavy upbeat jams that demonstrate influences from early to contemporary hip hop as well as progressive music, ambient music and drum and bass. Shadow produced Endtroducing over two years using minimal equipment, primarily an Akai MPC60 sampler.
The Akai MPC is a series of music workstations produced by Akai from 1988 onwards. The MPC combines sampling and sequencing functions.
Technodelic is the fifth studio album by Yellow Magic Orchestra, released in 1981. The album is notable for its experimental approach and heavy use of digital samplers which were not commonly used until the mid-to-late 1980s, resulting in a more minimalist and avant-garde sound compared to their previous work.
Critical Beatdown is the debut studio album by American hip hop group Ultramagnetic MCs, released on October 4, 1988, by Next Plateau Records. Production for the album was handled primarily by the group's rapper and producer Ced-Gee, who employed an E-mu SP-1200 sampler as the album's main instrument. Music journalists have noted the album for its innovative production, funk-based samples, self-assertive themes, ingenious lyricism, and complex rhyme patterns by Ced-Gee and fellow rapper Kool Keith.
Roger Linn is an American designer of electronic musical instruments and equipment. He is the designer of the LM-1, the first drum machine to use samples, and the MPC sampler, which had a major influence on the development of hip hop. Roger Linn is also a member of the Dead Presidents Society, a group of innovators in the field of electronic music.
Hip hop production is the creation of hip hop music in a recording studio. While the term encompasses all aspects of hip hop music creation, including recording the rapping of an MC, a turntablist or DJ providing a beat, playing samples and "scratching" using record players and the creation of a rhythmic backing track, using a drum machine or sequencer, it is most commonly used to refer to recording the instrumental, non-lyrical and non-vocal aspects of hip hop.
E-mu SP-1200 is a sampler that was released in August 1987 by E-mu Systems.
Woo! Yeah! is a drum break that includes James Brown's ("Woo!") and Bobby Byrd's ("Yeah!") voices which has been widely sampled in popular music, often in the form of a loop. The drum break was performed by John "Jabo" Starks. It originates from the 1972 Lyn Collins recording "Think ", a song written and produced by Brown, and is just one of a few other frequently used breaks contained in the recording, often collectively known as the Think Break.
Hip hop music, also known as rap music, is a genre of popular music developed in the United States by inner-city African Americans and Latino Americans in the Bronx borough of New York City in the 1970s. It consists of a stylized rhythmic music that commonly accompanies rapping, a rhythmic and rhyming speech that is chanted. It developed as part of hip hop culture, a subculture defined by four key stylistic elements: MCing/rapping, DJing/scratching with turntables, break dancing, and graffiti writing. Other elements include sampling beats or bass lines from records, and rhythmic beatboxing. While often used to refer solely to rapping, "hip hop" more properly denotes the practice of the entire subculture. The term hip hop music is sometimes used synonymously with the term rap music, though rapping is not a required component of hip hop music; the genre may also incorporate other elements of hip hop culture, including DJing, turntablism, scratching, beatboxing, and instrumental tracks.
Abraham Orellana, better known as his stage name AraabMuzik, is a Grammy nominated American record producer and DJ. He made a name for himself by performing beats and instrumentals live and in real time on a AkaiPro Music Production Center (MPC) drum machine. He uses MPC to produce rapid, rhythmic drum patterns and creates melodies with samples and other sounds.
Sampledelia is sample-based music which uses samplers or other technology to expand upon the recording methods of 1960s psychedelia. Sampledelia features "disorienting, perception-warping" manipulations of audio samples or found sounds via techniques such as chopping, looping or stretching. Sampladelic techniques have been applied prominently in styles of electronic music and hip hop, such as trip hop, jungle, post-rock, and plunderphonics.
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