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A History of Sampling

» A History of Sampling «

I’m interested in the way music evolves. Different genres influence each other in unexpected ways over space and time.

DJ Kool Herc

DJ Kool Herc

Early hip hop used many of the same techniques developed in Jamaica for dub music during the 60s and 70s. Jamaican sound engineers used relatively simple equipment and techniques to create very intriguing effects. One technique involved using two copies of the same song (“double”, hence “dub”) and mixing between them with a mixer to create echoes.

Jamaican born DJ Clive “Kool Herc” Campbell is credited as being highly influential in the pioneering stage of hip hop music, in the Bronx, New York, after moving to New York at the age of thirteen. Herc created the blueprint for hip hop music and culture by building upon the Jamaican tradition of toasting, or boasting impromptu poetry and sayings over music, which he witnessed as a youth in Jamaica.

- from Wikipedia: Hip Hop

The World’s Most Important Six Second Drum Loop discusses the famous Amen Break. Not included in my compilation are other famous samples such as the Funky President or Funky Drummer, both produced by James Brown. What’s interesting about early hip hop is how often the same samples were used over and over again. Edan the DJ even put together an entire compilation album of old school rap tracks all based around the Funky Drummer.

This is partly because some of the most popular breaks were compiled on records such as the Ultimate Breaks and Beats series. The release of a new volume in this series usually led to a wave of rap records using the breaks.

Afrika Bambaataa

Afrika Bambaataa

The E-mu SP-1200 percussion sampler progressed hip hop away from the drum machine sound upon its release in August 1987, ushering in the sample-based sound of the late 1980s and early 1990s. The machine rose to such prominence that its strengths and weaknesses sculpted an entire era of music: the crunchy digitized drums, choppy segmented samples, and murky filtered basslines that characterize the vintage New York sound are all mechanisms of the machine. Later, Akai pioneered many processing techniques, such as Crossfade Looping to eliminate glitches and Time Stretch which allows for shortening or lengthening of samples without affecting pitch and vice versa. The limiting factors in the early days were the cost of physical memory (RAM) and the limitations of external data storage devices.

Kraftwerk

Kraftwerk

Although sampling is most heavily associated with hip hop music, I wanted to show both how it’s use evolved over time in hip hop and the way sampling has been used in other genres. Therefore the compilation ecompasses cheesy early 90s dance music, jungle/ragga, IDM, trip hop, grime, techno, dance, and funk carioca.

Steve Reich was using sampling with his early tape music compositions, before being sampled himself. How does a strange techno song from a group from Düsseldorf about riding the trains through Europe resonate with people in the Bronx? Finnish jazz evolves into abstract hip hop. People build upon each other’s sounds.