Sampling Music
03/12 2020

Sampling Music

In this day and age, there are probably as many ways to create music as there are music genres. Or even more. From live jazz evenings to trance music sets that feature a couple of similar tones and last for hours, the way to experience music is truly varied. And when it comes to creating it, writing down sequences of notes on staves is certainly not the only one way to make tunes come alive. Over time, some songs have become hits the popularity of which goes beyond anything that could be expected from a song. Naturally, others want a piece of that glorious fame and decide to take some inspiration from those tunes; the likes of Michael Jackson or the Queen have been sampled more than we can count. Let’s dive in and see how this sort of music making process works.

What is sampling

Even if you’re not completely new to the majestic world of music-making, if you’ve been doing it authentically, you might be unfamiliar with the term sampling. In short, it can be described as exploiting or borrowing parts of a famous older song and using replicas or slightly mended motifs of that song in a new one. The opinions about this practice are controversial; while some view it as exploiting the creative genius of those who have come before us, others claim it’s a unique form of creativity that also pays homage to the past. Regardless of where you stand, it might be interesting to try, even if to see what comes out of it and never use it again.

How do I start sampling music

It’s actually a lot more simple than you might think. Whatever form your music library is in, it will work! From vinyl to YouTube, there is a way to take a music sample from anything. You’ll need some software to actually turn it to something of your own though. Most probably, some sort of digital audio workshop will be necessary in order to take parts of the song, chop them, loop them, or adjust them in any other way. If you’re really interested, you cannot go wrong with looking into Ableton Live, since it’s a one stop shop when it comes to sampling music. Once you really get into it, do remember that if you’re looking at releasing a track that has samples, you must have a permission to use the original track (even if the motifs are unrecognizable). Otherwise you might face legal action.

Famous tunes that used samples

Some of our most beloved songs actually contain quite a few samples. Let’s take a look:

  • Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” is in fact heavily sampled from Queen’s “Under Pressure”. They are really upfront about it too, so if you listen to both songs one after another for a few times, you’ll see that the similarity is striking.
  • Kanye West Feat. Jamie Foxx “Gold Digger” features not only instrumental motifs from Ray Charles’ “I Got a Woman”, but Ray Charles’ voice too!
  • Parts of “Don’t Cry” by J Dilla are based on The Escorts’ “I Can’t Stand (To See You Cry)”.
Famous tunes that used samples
Famous tunes that used samples

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