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DJ Premier selecting records to sample

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 back 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 sampling features. Initially, samplers were unaffordable for most musicians and could only play back short sounds; as technology improved, cheaper 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, to be rapped over. Sampling has since influenced all 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. The process of acquiring permission for a sample is known as clearance, a potentially complex and costly process. Landmark legal cases, such as Grand Upright Music, Ltd. v. Warner Bros. Records Inc (1991), changed how samples are used since the court ruled that unlicensed sampling constitutes copyright infringement, samples from well known sources are now often prohibitively expensive.

Precursors

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 back 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 sampling features. In

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 back 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 sampling features. Initially, samplers were unaffordable for most musicians and could only play back short sounds; as technology improved, cheaper 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, to be rapped over. Sampling has since influenced all 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. The process of acquiring permission for a sample is known as clearance, a potentially complex and costly process. Landmark legal cases, such as Grand Upright Music, Ltd. v. Warner Bros. Records Inc (1991), changed how samples are used since the court ruled that unlicensed sampling constitutes copyright infringement, samples from well known sources are now often prohibitively expensive.

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.[1] The method also involved tape loops, splicing lengths of tape end to end so a sound could be played indefinitely.[1] Schaeffer developed the Phonogene, which played loops at 12 different pitches triggered by a keyboard.[1]

Composers including John Cage, Edgar Varèse, Karheinz Stockhausen and Iannis Xenakis experimented with musique concrète,[1] 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.[1]

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.[2][3] Jamaican immigrants introduced dub sampling techniques to American hip hop music in the 1970s.[3] British producer Brian Eno cited German musician Holger Czukay's experiments with Dictaphones and shortwave radios as examples of early sampling.[4]

Samplers

Sampling is the foundation of hip hop, which emerged in the 1980s.[27] The sampling culture of hip hop has been likened to the origins of blues and rock, which were created by repurposing existing music.[15] Guardian journalist David McNamee wrote that, in the 1980s, sampling in hip hop had been a political act, the "working-class black answ

Sampling is the foundation of hip hop, which emerged in the 1980s.[27] The sampling culture of hip hop has been likened to the origins of blues and rock, which were created by repurposing existing music.[15] 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".[13]

Before the rise of sampling, DJs had used turntables to loop breaks from records, which MCs would rap

Before the rise of sampling, DJs had used turntables to loop breaks from records, which MCs would rap over.[28] 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.[28] 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", helping popularize the technique.[14] The advent of affordable samplers such as the Akai MPC (1988) made looping easier.[28] 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.[29]

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.[30] 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.[28] 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.[28] The drum break from the 1970 James Brown song "Funky Drummer" is one of the most influential pieces of sampled music.[31]

The most sampl

The most sampled track of all time is "Change the Beat" by Fab Five Freddy, which appears on over 1,150 tracks.[32] Another common sample, the orchestra hit, originated as a sound on the Fairlight sampled from Stravinsky's 1910 orchestral work Firebird Suite[33] and became a hip hop cliche.[34] 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".[35]

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.[36] According to the site WhoSampled, which catalogs samples, James Brown is the most sampled artist of all time, appearing in more than 3000 tracks.[37]

Legal and ethical issues

To legally use a sample, an artist must acquire legal permission from the copyright holder, a potentially lengthy and complex process known as clearance.[16] 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.[16] In some cases, sampling is protected under American fair use laws,[16] which grant "limited use of copyrighted material without permission from the rights holder".[38]

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.[36] According to the site WhoSampled, which catalogs samples, James Brown is the most sampled artist of all time, appearing in more than 3000 tracks.[37]

To legally use a sample, an artist must acquire legal permission from the copyright holder, a potentially lengthy and complex process known as clearance.[16] 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.[16] In some cases, sampling is protected under American fair use laws,[16] which grant "limited use of copyrighted material without permission from the rights holder".[38]

Richard Lewis Spencer, who owns the copyright for the widely sampled Amen break, has never received royalties for its use and condemned its sampling as plagiarism.[28] Journalist Simon Reynolds likened the situation to "the man who goes to the sperm bank and unknowingly sires hundreds of children".[28] 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."[39] The case was settled out of court and set a legal precedent that had a chilling effect on sampling in hip hop.[39]

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

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.[40] 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".[40] 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.[41]

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.[41] 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."[13] 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."[14]

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.[42] 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.[43]

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.[41] West has been sued several times over his use of samples.[14] Some have accused the law of restricting creativity, while others argue it forces producers to innovate.[41] 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".[14]

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.[27] 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."[27]

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".[44] The court ruled that permission was required for recognizable samples; modified, unrecognizable samples could still be used without authorisation.[44]

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.[45]