Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Music Sampling

Lately in class we've been talking about Postmodernism. We've discussed that one of the ways that Postmodernism manifested itself is through appropriating images and recontextualizing them. This got me thinking about music in terms of Postmodernism. A short paragraph can be found here describing Postmodernist music in terms of minimalism in compositions, however that's not exactly what I was thinking of. I was hoping to look more along the lines of today's musicians, appropriating songs or portions of songs from the past, and recontextualizing them. An example being music sampling. I also wonder if cover bands could fall into this category. Specifically a musician like Richard Cheese - The California lounge singer who does well known songs, "Vegas lounge style." The Wikipedia page on sampling has a lot of good information pertaining to the legalities of sampling and whatnot. One thing I was surprised to learn is sampling goes back as far as 1961! Thinking about sampling visually, it is also very similar to collage where they take bits and pieces from different songs, as well as their own, and "glue" everything together.

There are obvious examples that we've all heard before, such as Puff Daddy's "I'll Be Missing You" sampling The Police's "Every Breath You Take."

Or, Eminem sampling (one of my childhood favorites) Martika's "Toy Soldiers" in his song "Like Toy Soldiers."

One more example, this one from 1990... MC Hammer's "U Can't Touch This" sampling Rick James' "Super Freak."

Some artists choose to sample portions of the music, versus lyrics, such as Beastie Boys sampling AC/DC's "T.N.T." in "No Sleep Till Brooklyn."

Or probably one of the most famous, Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby" sampling Queen's "Under Pressure."

I will close with the following two quotes, as I think that they are right on target with designers appropriating images; learning from and paying homage to the artists who originally created certain pieces.
"Sampling's not a lazy man's way. We learn a lot from sampling, it's like school for us. When we sample a portion of a song and repeat it over and over we can better understand the matrix of the song." —Daddy-O of Stetsasonic, cited in Black Noise by Tricia Rose, Wesleyan Press 1994, p. 79
"When I sample something, it's because there's something ingenious about it. And if it isn't the group as a whole, it's that song. Or, even if it isn't the song as a whole, it's a genius moment, or an accident or something that makes it just utterly unique to the other trillions of hours of records that I've plowed through" —DJ Shadow, 33 1/3 Volume 24: DJ Shadow's Endtroducing..., 2005

images and samples from http://www.whosampled.com/


History of Graphic Design said...

I really liked this post. The idea that Hip-Hop could be considered the first form of postmodernist music. Remixing disco break beats, and eventually sampling segments of melodies and lyrics to create their own interpretation or meaning. The thought that sampling and turntable-ism would be considered a postmodern act, but when I think about it, it is the purest form of audio re-manipulation.

April G. said...

I've never had much appreciation for sampling, I've always thought of it as being kind of lazy, honestly. But then after doing some research and reading about the musicians explanations on what sampling is to them, I have a new outlook on it.