Sampling In Music History | Muziek

Sampling In Music History

What means sampling in music?

Sampling in music means, a music fragment from an existing song is chosen and incorporated into a new song. This can be a piece of text, a beat, a hook. Especially in hip-hop music and R&B, a piece of another music is often used and then mixed with own music to create a loop. Before creating a sample, it is necessary to check whether there are any rights to the existing piece of music. Existing pieces of music almost always carry copyrights. There is, however, one exception. If the longest living person of the original has been deceased for seventy years or more. One of the most famous samples used and still used is Amen Break by The Winstones. Read the history of this song below and listen to different versions by hip-hop artists, among others. In the attached blog you can read what a hook is.

Sampling in Music History

If we delve into history, we see that art and music were first created in 1913 by the Italian composer and painter Luigi Rossolo. His artworks were futuristic and he created the artwork The Art of Noise. A year later, he made the music to it with electronic equipment. In 1949, a musical movement called musique concrete was created by Pierre Schaefer, a composer from France. He was the founder of this music movement, in which existing musical sounds were changed with electronic equipment on turntables in order to create new musical compositions. Pierre Schaefer came from a musical family. His parents were both musicians. It soon became clear that Pierre also had musical talent, and in 1936 he went to Paris to work at the Radiodiffusion Francaise. In 1948, he started experimenting with different equipment and sounds. He then created the piece Étude aux chemins de fer. In this piece, train sounds can be heard. In that year, he also founded the group Jeune France. In 1949 he started to work together with another French composer also named Pierre, Pierre Henry. In 1951 Pierre Schaeffer founded GRMC ( Groupe de Recherche de Musique Concrete ) where Pierre Henry also worked. The GRMC was part of the French Radio Institute and he exchanged the turntables for tape recorders. That was a breakthrough in electronic music history. He composed several more pieces, including the opera piece Orphée 53 in 1953. He left GRMC in 1953 and in 1958 changed GRMC to GRM ( Group de Recherche de Musicale). In 1959 he made one of his last pieces entitled Etudes aux Objets. From 1968 to 1980 Pierre Schaeffer worked as a teacher at the Paris Conversatorium. In later life he became demented and died in 1995 at the age of 85. 

The History of Sampling Amen Brother

A well-known loop used in a lot of hip-hop music is Amen Brother. This loop was created in 1969 by The Winstons, a 1960s funk and soul music group from America. Amen Brother was on the B-side of the song Color Him Father. The Winstons released the song Color Him Father for which they received a Grammy Award in 1970 as best R&B song. On the B-side of the song was the song Amen Brother which became so popular well into the 80s. Amen Brother has a funky style with a solid drum break underneath. It is called the Amen Break.  In Amen Brother you can hear a drum solo (called Amen Break) where drummer Gregory C. Coleman takes care of the drum solo. This drum solo becomes so famous and becomes the biggest sample used worldwide in the music industry of hip hop, r&b, beat, electronic music. We can say that the drum solo of 1969 was the founder of the start of shaping in eletronic music. The drum solo lasts just over five seconds, but everyone will recognise it and you will hear it frequently in various songs. The drum solo has been sampled more than 2000 times. Hip Hop groups like Salt 'N Pepa were one of the first groups to sample Amen Brother in their song I Desire of 1986. The hip-hop group N.W.A released their album in 1988 and in one of their most famous songs Straight Outta Compton you can clearly hear this Amen Break sampled. From the early 1990s onwards, there was more and more experimentation with Amen Break. Carl Cox came up with the number Let The Bass Kick.  In 1992, a jungle style of dance music emerged and the song We Are I.E. was created by Lennie De Ice. This song became the founder of jungle music. Jungle music is dance music with reggae style. From 1992 onwards, Amen Break was frequently used with deeper undertones and a lot of bass underneath. Jungle music was all the rage at the time until producers decided in 1993 to start making samples again with lighter undertones and the song The Beginning by The Invisble Man became a hit. In 1995 and 1997 more jazz and soul samples were made of this song. In 1997 the song Vic Acid was released by electronic music producer Squarepusher, which gives Amen Break a whole new dimension. 


History of the sampling equipment

In the past history until now, different types of equipment have been developed that were used for music sampling. In the history of sampling, I mentioned that Pierre Schaeffer founded Music Concrete in 1940 and started with turntables, followed by the tape recorder. Between 1949 and 1956 the electronic instrument The Chamberlin was developed. It was a kind of keyboard that could play tape loops. Only a few copies were made, as they were quite expensive to produce. Between 1960 and 1970 the Mellotron came on the market. In 1962, Bill Fransen invested in the Chamberlin by sending some to make it even better, and a whole new instrument came out of it, the Mellotron. This later came in various versions. In the 1970s and 1980s, the hip-hop style emerged. Various DJs started to sample live with vinyl. Breakbeats were looped, sampled for dance and rap music. The first samplers used in studios in 1979 were digital samplers, Computer Music Melodian invented by Harry Mendel. Then in 1979, the Fairlight CMI sampler came on the market and that device consisted of a digital synthesiser and a digital audio workstation. In the 1980s, there were portable samplers, which are still used today and which can also be connected to laptops and mobile phones.


The Original Song - Amen Brother - The Winstons

The Original Song of 1969. If you listen carefully, you will also recognise the gospel song Amen, released in 1949 by the Wings Over Jordan Choir.

Music artists who sampled Amen Break

There a lot of songs who has used Amen Break for sampling in their songs. Below you find a selection of music artists with their songs.

Do you hear the sampling?

Listen to this songs below. I explained earlier in this blog what sampling is and that music artists borrow a piece of text or a beat from another artist. In this example of these songs, you can hear that a piece of text in the song Say No Go was used by the hip-hop group De La Soul, which comes from the original song I Can't Go For That by Daryl Hall and John Oates. Daryl Hall & John Oates released the song I Can't Go For That in 1981. It is the second single from their album Private Eyes. In the song Billie Jean by Michael Jackson, you can hear the bassline that is also borrowed from the song I Can't Go For That by Daryl Hall and John Oates. Simply Red came up with the song Sunrise in which you also clearly hear the melody and the bridge of the song by Hall & Oates. The indiepopband XX with the song On Hold have also sampled this number of Hall & Oats. In a video, they show which piece was sampled exactly. You can watch it below. Do you hear the sampling?

Other Samplers

There are many songs who used sampling. Below you see more songs which were original and sampled.

On the left the original song of Aerosmith and on the right the hiphopgroup RUN DMC who made a sample of this song.

Lou Reed with the song Walk on the Wild Side with the famous intro which you can hear immediately in the sample of the hiphop group A Tribe Called Quest - Can I Kick It.

Bruce Hornsby with the song The Way It Is which were sampled by rapper 2Pac with the titlesong Changes

Chic with the song Good Times which the beat were sampled in 1979 by The Sugar Hill Gang called Rappers Delight.

Listen to the beat of these two songs. Labi Siffre - I Got The of 1975 and then rapper Eninem sampled the beat and bassline in the rapsong My Name Is in 1999.

Santana with the song 1999 which were sampled in 2017 by DJ Khaled ft. Rihanna and Bryson Tiller which called Wild Thoughts.

Other Sources: Wikipedia. YouTube , Pixabay


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