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Sampling (music)
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Sampling (music)

In music, sampling is the act of taking a portion of one sound recording and reusing it as an instrument or element of a new recording. This is typically done with a sampler, which can be a piece of hardware or a computer program on a digital computer. Sampling is also possible with loops of magnetic tape with a reel-to-reel tape machine.

Often "samples" consist of one part of a song used in another, for instance the use of the drum introduction from Led Zeppelin's "When the Levee Breaks" in songs by the Beastie Boys, Mike Oldfield and Erasure, and the guitar riffs from Foreigner's "Hot Blooded" in Tone-Loc's "Funky Cold Medina". "Samples" in this sense occur often in hip hop and R&B;, but are becoming more common in other music, as well.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Legal issues
3 See also
4 External links


Though musique concrète; composers utilized similar methods as early as the 1940's, modern sampling probably dates back to the 1960s when Jamaican DJs developed dub. These DJs combined instrumental reggae recordings with other albums into single works. Frequently, they would rap over the music, singing unrehearsed lyrics. These early practices made their way to America in the early 1970s. With the assistance of Jamaican-born DJ Kool Herc, who moved to the Bronx, dub, a buoyant predecessor to hip-hop, fashioned latter-day DJing and sampling techniques. Initially, DJs did not have the technological comfort of samplers.

By the late 1970s, the stylings of Herc spread from the West Bronx all over New York City. Like any musical style, dub became modified to its surroundings. Instead of reggae, disco and funk were mixed together. New Yorkers were improvising their own variety of poetry and dub, which was soon christened "rap".

Sampling made its real breakthrough at the end of the 1970s when The Sugarhill Gang took portions of Chic's "Good Times" and formed them as the basis for "Rapper's Delight", considered by some to be the first real rap hit single.

"My Life In The Bush of Ghosts", a 1981 album by Brian Eno and David Byrne made extensive use of vocal samples, and is often cited as an important recording.

Near the mid-1980s, rap music was nearing a mainstream, commercial breakthrough, and samplers were very low-priced. It was at this time that sampling finally became mainstream.

Legal issues

Sampling has been an area of contention from a legal perspective. Early artists simply sampled and used bits of previous recordings; once rap and other music incorporating samples began to make significant money the original artists began to take legal action, claiming copyright infringement. Some artists fought back, claiming their samples were fair use.

One of the first major cases of illegal sampling was M/A/R/R/S's "Pump Up The Volume", released in 1987. The single topped the charts, when several companies sued M/A/R/R/S for illegal use of samples taken from their artists. Later, in the early 1990's, Vanilla Ice came under criticism for the unauthorized use of a sample from the David Bowie/Queen hit "Under Pressure". Later in the 90's, The Verve was forced to pay 100% of their royalties from their hit "Bittersweet Symphony" for the use of an unlicensed sample from "The Last Time" by The Rolling Stones.

Today, most mainstream acts obtain prior authorization to use samples, a process known as "clearing" (gaining permission to use the sample and, usually, paying an up-front fee and/or a cut of the royalties to the original artist). Independent bands, lacking the funds and legal assistance to clear samples, are at a disadvantage.

A notable case in the early 1990s involved the dispute between the group Negativland and U2 over Negativland's extensive use of U2 samples. More recently, in 2004, DJ Danger Mouse with the release of The Grey Album, which is a remix of The Beatles' "White Album"' and rapper Jay-Z's The Black Album has been embroiled in a similar situation with the record label EMI issuing cease and desist orders over uncleared Beatles samples.

See also

External links