VIDEO: The Early Days of Sampling

  • 14 Comments

These days, most of us (including myself) take sampling for granted. We have our MPCs and MASCHINEs sitting right in front of us, and it's just a matter of dragging and dropping a file and you're good to go.

 

But that wasn't always the case. In addition to technically being more "work" to get the audio into your own track, early sampling was often "lifted" from copyrighted material, causing a firestorm of legal battles between content owners and those using their audio.

This video is a great look into where the sampling world was back in 1988, both legally and technically.  Also, I'm pretty sure that's a young Saul Goodman at the 7:45 mark.

Fairlight Sampler

 

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14 Comments

  • Their is no one Who is absolutely “original” in the sense that you completely created every single sound all on your own with no help, no type of inspiration of any kind, their were some sound you heard was some Phrase you heard or some music riff you might’ve heard, oh else you would be God. He is the only one sole creator who could take nothing and create something. now if you use a sample from someone and the song sounds just like the sample and there was no creativity or adding anything with it to make it your own in essence no tweaking no transposing no processing no verb no delay no compression no stereo imaging no nothing then I can see what you’re saying. But sampling is a creative music form in its own right.

    kenneth bingham on
  • Dante is right. There are so many cultural currents that flow to create music it would be stupid to think that any piece of music stands on its own – original – music is the product of social forces as much as human imagination, of lived experience just as much as creative genius. A particular set of forces created the many ways sampling has been used. Those rhythms and chops were not born from nothing. There are loads of middle class artists that raid the cultural heritage of a variety of peoples and never have to go to court for their shameless plundering (or careful fusion of different elements?) of others music.

    inthishand on
  • Stop bitching, people…music creation is beautiful, and there is NO wrong way to do it!!

    Bobby O on
  • I don’t think sampling crushes talent, or sends kids the wrong message about making music. I think it shows more creativity than going on American Idol, or playing in a cover band. No one is saying that sampling is the only way kids are allowed to make music, moving forward. Any kid can go buy a synth or guitar, and create something fresh.

    There are artists, like DJ Shadow, that make very complex pieces, irreducible to the samples used. There are other’s that are overly plagiaristic, and while I don’t gravitate to that style, someone does, and another’s musical interests should be theirs to decide. I’m sure you listen to music that has identical sonic characteristics to work that preceded it. In my opinion it is a moot point to argue the semantics.

    Go make the music in the way you want to, and listen to the artists that vibe with you. You didn’t invent the Gregorian scale. You didn’t invent the DAW. You didn’t invent amplification or oscillators. If a sampling artist bites someone else’s work and finds an audience, good for them. Don’t be bitter. Nirvana did it, too.

    Jeb on
  • This article has a very circular feeling to it, for me, in that I feel like these people embedding a video in their articles EXACTLY LIKE THIS ONE, and writing a very short article with no substantive addition to the content of the video, then monetizing their article should be required to pay the creator of the original product, just the way musicians should be payed by the rappers that are reselling their product.
    This is really the exact same behavior.

    Robert Shelton on
  • As a musician people expect me to dislike sampling, but I disagree. Culture has alway had aspects of bricolage. Even back before the industrial revolution bards would take existing songs, re-arrange the lyrics around and create new songs. Blues largely works off the same 12 bar pattern with variations. Poets take inspiration from other poems and rearange the ideas into new ideas. So for me, its just another tool in the toolbox. Sure I might dislike what someones done with my art, but its their art now, and deserves respect for that. So by all means, sample the shit out of my music. Just make whatever you create good.

    Shayne O'Neill on
  • i agree with Larry. Being a DJ in the late 70’s, you can consider cuttin and scratchin a form of sampling. Sometimes a vocal cut of one song was overlayed on an instrumental of another song to create something both familiar and new. Was that considered sampling or was it creativity?

    ledale on
  • this is art. F*** yo rights. you can not control creativeness. you can put all the rules on it you want but people will do what they want. i sample and i wont clear any and if they sue me then i should be in a position to make even more money so it dont really matter to me

    keyway on
  • I think the “history” of sampling really started before the technology existed – in the sense that DJs were mixing in parts of what was in one LP track while another track was playing. (Jungle?) So originally, the quality of what you were producing depended on your mixing skill. If you sucked, it sucked. And if you were good, it was like Sugar Hill Gang. Creative use of “primitive” equipment. Then the computer came along and it became harder to judge who practiced more vs. spent more. And the question of something being derivative perhaps became more complicated to discuss. This question probably upsets older music lovers because they remember when people had to play an instrument and be in a band and looping tech wasn’t part of the scene. imho

    Larry on
  • I disagree with you also Dante…. theres a HUGE difference in a person composing ‘Springsteen like’ riffs and a person blatantly ripping them right off the record. You can not ‘sample’ something ‘in the style of’ said artist – since you are in fact carbon copying.

    For me all of this since the 80’s – has been akin to somebody tearing up the Mona Lisa then pasting it back together in some other ‘artists interpretation’ and claiming to have created their own original work.

    Further more – we have already established people love the Mona Lisa therefore we know the piece is guaranteed a certain amount of attention before even seeing the light of day. Come on now…. your not sampling the flops and failures. Are you?

    If the song was already a hit why should you receive accolades for simply hacking it up and laying back down over something else? Most the time your sampling THE MOST CATCHY FAMOUS riff of song, the very fabric that turned ears and made the song a hit.

    Its like wanting a gold medal for a great chocolate chip cookie recipe – again; Have we not already established a thousand times over that people LOVE chocolate chip cookies? (much like the hits you sample) ……but suddenly were all to bow down to your greatness and make you rich? I dont think so.

    Christopher on

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