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is sampling composition? Virtual Instrument Plugins
Old 24th May 2006
  #1
Gear Head
 

is sampling composition?

hello!

it seems to me that a large proportion of contemporary hip-hop composition is based around finding a great old funk track, sampling a riff from that song and producing a beat before adding vocals. this is a huge generalisation, i know - and don't get me wrong, i love those old tracks and most of the time i love what is being done with them. i have plans to make a few tracks with some old samples i've found, actually.

but do you think that this form of composition holds any less integrity than something that is completely 'original'? is it composition as much as it is editing or reworking someone elses track?

cheers all,
-hazza.
Old 24th May 2006
  #2
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TREMORS's Avatar
personally, I like hip-hop..ususally underground stuff, so I like the odd samples.
Or, old wu-tang had good samples.
Not a big fan of say...Wycelf taking the Staying Alive beat, or P. Diddy's endless area of recognizable ones (kashmir, every breath you take, etc..)

I still find it ingenious, at least
I find it to be a form of music, yes.

I know many hate sampling, but I find it to be an art like any other.
If anything, at worst...it's like a movie remake, a reinterpretation of the original, without being a cover tune.

"well, yeah...that's just like..you're opinion, man"


-D
Old 24th May 2006
  #3
no ssl yet
Guest
I personally think there's not much difference in Cleff taking Staying alive or someone else sampling an obscure sample

Is it composition in the purest sense. NO
That's why we pay the original writers/publishers.

However there can be a synergistic effect that takes place where the final whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. Then Obviously the person who does the sampling/producing/rapping/ is responsible for that.

Even if you choose not to call it composition, it is SOMETHING that is valid.
Old 24th May 2006
  #4
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TREMORS's Avatar
Agreed, at's all sampling.
Just my preference.

But, yes, it is VALID as artistic expression, to me.

-D
Old 25th May 2006
  #5
Gear Guru
 

when sampling first started getting popular (and nobody was getting clearances) I had a vision of my future grandchildren asking me "grandpa- where the the first record come from?"

huh?

"well everybody knows you make a record by sampling another record, so where did the first record get sampled from?"

I think there are degrees of Art and these degrees depend on the process used -not the final product at the end.

For example, a photographer can take a photo of a sunset and print it, and a painter can paint that sunset. The photographer could use various darkroom techniques to make his photo look more like a painting, and the painter could painstakingly render every detail to make his painting look more like a photograph. In the end, perhaps nobody could tell which was which.

But the painter is still the higher degree of artist because not only did he create his art with his body (rather than with a machine) but he internalized the image. It went into his eyes, into his brain (and soul?) and then out through his hands.

The photographer captures the image on film, manipulates the film and with an enlarger produces an output on paper that can be just as (or perhaps occasionally even more) powerful as the painting, but at all times the image is EXTERNAL to him.

Is the photographer an artist? I would say yes, but not an artist on the same level as the painter.

As an analogy to sampling/composing I would say the sampler is like a photographer who is walking through the museum taking photos of someone else's paintings. The Mona Lisa (snap) The Last Supper (snap) St John the Baptist (snap) He may cut them up and make a wonderful collage. Some people may actually prefer to look at his collage rather than the original paintings.

All well and good, but when this collagist claims he is an artist on an equal footing with Leonardo Da Vinci, I have to disagree. His collage relies on the power of the original images for its impact. Leonardo on the other hand created those images from his own head.

Its not just the output, its the road you took to get there. When a musician writes a piece of music, it comes from INSIDE him. When someone samples something, the music and the sound are EXTERNAL to him at all times.

If having the good taste to pick the right sample can be called an artistic talent, it is a minor one. Lots of people have good taste.

I work a lot with drum loops, but to get them I mic up the drum set, sit down and play my loops. Then I chop them up and do all the usual. It took me a few hours here and there to learn how to chop up a drum beat and do some stuff to it.

It has taken me my whole life to get good at the drums, and if I live to be 100 I will never be "finished" with my studies.

like no ssl said- sampling is not composition, which is why you pay and why you give credit.
Old 25th May 2006
  #6
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq
I think there are degrees of Art and these degrees depend on the process used -not the final product at the end.
this is the view i have often taken. but perhaps it's too idealistic?

i mean on a very basic level, if something is awesome to listen or dance to, who gives a rat's arse where it came from?

also, would you argue then that all music that is 'internal' as you put it is of higher creative integrity than a sample based track? even a track which clearly isn't as nice to listen to? these are just thoughts i'm having - i'm not decided one way or the other myself.

cheers,
-hazza.
Old 25th May 2006
  #7
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sardi's Avatar
 

Sampling aside (which I have no beef with whatsoever) I think one should also take into account then when writing say a chord progression, its wihtout a doubt been done before. Most ideas in music have already been done to a degree in music from the past.

So really, one can argue wether playing a riff with a Rhodes keyboard or sampling a riff played with a Rhodes keyboard and manipulating it beyond recognition, is more creative or artisitic.

I think the problem with calling sampling creative/artistic in regrads to Hip Hop, is that most of the time its just a sample, looped, beefed up with other sounds, and then vocals laced over the top. Dont get me wrong, I like stuff like this, but realistically, there is not a lot of creativity as such in taking this approach.

I think if you look at other forms of electronic music you'll be amazed at what they can do with a sample sound/riff. Its mutation!! Its fair to say that what is being done with the sample, would not be possible by just playing a melody with a traditional instrument. Then you get producers that play all their own stuff, then resample and manipulate their own ideas!! Crazy!!

So yeah. Its tuff, and very hard to categorise something for what it is, when it can be taken so many different ways.

Hope that made a lil bit of sense.
Old 25th May 2006
  #8
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KevWest's Avatar
 

to me its more about the sound of using a sample. I rework a sample in a way so that it seems composed and i enjoy playing with different sounds to do different things. I also make completely original pieces but to be completely honest I dig my sampled joints a lot more
Old 25th May 2006
  #9
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Ziggy!!'s Avatar
 

yeah... it is composition. But it can still exist as bad composition... bad composition is still composition...

Pierre schaeffer looped recorded train sounds back in the early 50's and is still considered a pioneer (along with the rest of the RTF gang) of many aspects of compositional thought that are now common practise in contempory music.

The modern world has seen a dive in traditional compositional practise, but at the same time technology based skills have increased dramatically... The defination of composition has expanded since modernism to encompass simply the creation of music. The method of realising a composition is pretty irrelevent if the final piece works. If it sounds good and is an accurate realisation of your initial idea who cares how it was accomplished, you might get a better hihat sound by juggling your car keys then using a real hihat... Only if it doesn't work do you have to start scrutinising your methods...


Mashup's have found a place in insitutional compositional courses...
Old 25th May 2006
  #10
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sequoia's Avatar
 

The way I sample is composition! Stealing an entire song and remixing it is one thing (i.e., every breath you take). Chopping up a lot of little sounds and combining them into new music is different. There are tons of great sample based songs that sound nothing like any known music. Playing a sampler is as hard as any other instrument if you give it the same time and respect.
Old 25th May 2006
  #11
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by hazza
this is the view i have often taken. but perhaps it's too idealistic?

i mean on a very basic level, if something is awesome to listen or dance to, who gives a rat's arse where it came from?

also, would you argue then that all music that is 'internal' as you put it is of higher creative integrity than a sample based track? even a track which clearly isn't as nice to listen to? these are just thoughts i'm having - i'm not decided one way or the other myself.

cheers,
-hazza.
it is only from an idealistic point of view that we can even make the distinction. Like you say, if it is awesome to listen or dance to, then from the audience's point of view, it doesn't really matter what process was used to get there. And in fact, you might never be able to tell what process is used. I have seen photographs that look like oils, and paintings that I could swear are photos.

So of course it's all Art.

but if you are going to ask the question is sampling (and I will include the collage and manipulation here) the same level of Art as composing then I would still say no. Because of what the artist has to do- he has to bring it INSIDE himself with his senses and process it with his mind and execute it with his body.

the photographer and the sampler are both manipulating something that is external at all times. Expose the photographer's film, or crash the sampler's hard drive and they have bupkes. Tear up the composer's sheet music and he can just write it again, because he has it in his head.

The Copyright office makes the distinction in Form PA (words and music) and Form SR (sound recording)

in my idealistic view, it is the effect that it has on the Artist, not the effect on the Audience that makes the distinction between a Fine Art and whatever these technological art forms are called. I get a kick out of working in the darkroom or doing a mix or playing with samples, but it pales in comparison to how I feel writing a song, or a poem or improvising on my instrument in a live musical context.

To me, writing is the highest art form because the writer is literally creating something out of nothing.


I am told that in Japan, there are certain rocks and seashells that are in museums. These rocks are considered "works of art" because they were 'selected' from all the other rocks by such-and-such an artist or Tea Master. I just can't get there myself to call that Art, but the Japanese apparently can.

Please note I am not arguing against the legitimacy or validity of technology and craft based art forms, just saying there is one area in which they are NOT equivalent.
Old 25th May 2006
  #12
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sequoia's Avatar
 

Quote:
but if you are going to ask the question is sampling (and I will include the collage and manipulation here) the same level of Art as composing then I would still say no. Because of what the artist has to do- he has to bring it INSIDE himself with his senses and process it with his mind and execute it with his body.
I bring sounds and inspiration from everything around me with my senses.

I process things equally as complex as any "traditional" musician with my mind.

I execute the composition by programming and playing my instrument, the sampler, just like a "traditional" composer our musician would.

I grew up playing violin, and then upright bass from the time I was 3 yrs old because my dad is a violin dealer and blues musician. I can read and write music, I rap, write poetry, play drums, organ, guitar, turntables and saxophone, and I can tell you from experience that a sampler or a turntable is every bit an instrument and the musician that plays these instruments can be just as accomplished as any musican. Open your mind and respect sampling musicans for what they are.

If my hard drive crashes, yes I have bupkes, just like If I smash your guitar. These things are merely tools, the artist is the integral part of the equation.

Just because you don't feel that you have taken the craft of sampling to fine art, make no mistake, SAMPLING CAN BE FINE ART!
Old 25th May 2006
  #13
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sequoia's Avatar
 

Quote:
I am told that in Japan, there are certain rocks and seashells that are in museums. These rocks are considered "works of art" because they were 'selected' from all the other rocks by such-and-such an artist or Tea Master. I just can't get there myself to call that Art, but the Japanese apparently can.
The art here isn't the seashell or the rock, it's the artists ability to recognize the beauty and potential in something, and share it with others. It's not as easy as it sounds.
Old 25th May 2006
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sequoia
The art here isn't the seashell or the rock, it's the artists ability to recognize the beauty and potential in something, and share it with others. It's not as easy as it sounds.
I agree fully, not just anyone can take a sample and turn it into somthing great.
Old 25th May 2006
  #15
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overdose's Avatar
 

If anyone makes a composition using a sample based software program or sample based hardware unit. They are by the definition above not a real composer, and must use only real instruments with no samples at all to make music. After all a sample is a sample. No matter how large or small. AB=BA

If I chop a riff up across my keys and replay something new. That IS Composing. I did not borrow the idea only the sample.

Old 25th May 2006
  #16
Gear Head
 
sequoia's Avatar
 

Yep, Overdose, you got it!
Old 25th May 2006
  #17
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overdose's Avatar
 

If someone wants to hear the difference between using the idea with some changes, and making something new that I would put money on it that nobody on this thread can tell me where I got the sample. I will lead you to my myspace site and give you a challenge.


If someone does get it right I will indicate so and tell them privately so we don't have to clear it when we release the album.
Old 25th May 2006
  #18
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Ziggy!!'s Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by overdose
If anyone makes a composition using a sample based software program or sample based hardware unit. They are by the definition above not a real composer, and must use only real instruments with no samples at all to make music. After all a sample is a sample. No matter how large or small. AB=BA

If I chop a riff up across my keys and replay something new. That IS Composing. I did not borrow the idea only the sample.


but you are wrong... by definition a composer only has to write music... Once upon a time composers wrote what they heard in their heads on music staves. It was never realised until its premier.

And what the heck is a real instrument? How is something not considered a real instrument when the definition of music is the organisation of sound with musical intent? Pretty simple definition huh? A composer is someone who makes music...

a composer is someone who organises sound with musical intent.


what a post-modern age we live in... from how many seem to have missed modernism...
Old 25th May 2006
  #19
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by overdose

If I chop a riff up across my keys and replay something new. That IS Composing. I did not borrow the idea only the sample.

no disagreement here.

The original question presupposed someone who, for example, takes an already sucessful song, extracts 12 seconds of it and slaps a couple of sound effects and a vocal on top. This artist has created music, no doubt.

But he has not undergone the same experience of composing music that the composer of the original song has.

The artist who chops something up and makes it do something new, something funny, something freaky, something disturbing- has undergone that experience, IMO. It doesn't make his songs any better or worse, its just a different experience that he is having.

That experience is its own reward.
Old 25th May 2006
  #20
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overdose's Avatar
 

I think you missed my point Ziggy. I consider anyone who makes music from what they hear in their head a composer, and I consider anything that make noise an instrument.



The tracks are posted on my Myspace.

www.myspace.com/pleazurehouse

Track 1 "Pleazure House 4 Life" ---Only a teaser of this song is uploaded it is not finished.

Track 2 "Roll With the House"
Old 25th May 2006
  #21
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sequoia
and I can tell you from experience that a sampler or a turntable is every bit an instrument and the musician that plays these instruments can be just as accomplished as any musican. Open your mind and respect sampling musicans for what they are.
i totally agree, but a violinist playing a mozart concerto is no more a composer than if i were to remix an earth wind and fire track. perhaps that's the point - that a writer basing their stuff around existing samples (and i think here it's important to point out we are talking about riffs or existing sections of music rather than single drum hits or keyboard sounds) is a skilled instrumentalist, but not so much a composer.... ??

-hazza.
Old 25th May 2006
  #22
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sequoia's Avatar
 

No we are just talking semantics, of course there will be instruments and methods of creating music that require us to redefine what those things mean. For instance, it is possible to compose with a turntable now that there is a written standard for it. A turntable, in my opinion can be played as a basic sampler.

There are always going to be good and bad versions of any music, there are still more hacks on guitars than samplers! (I guess thats changing fast though heh ) If you have a library of loops and phrases memorized in your head, couldn't you compose with them. Vivaldi needed violins and cellos to bring his vision to life, I need a sampler.
Old 25th May 2006
  #23
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overdose's Avatar
 

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

composer
One entry found for composer.
Main Entry: com·pos·er
Pronunciation: k&m-'pO-z&r
Function: noun
: one that composes; especially : a person who writes music





Is their more than one way to write music? NO
Does hip-hop and rap music just happen? NO
It is not Mozart, but it is writing music all the same.

www.myspace.com/pleazurehouse
Old 25th May 2006
  #24
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halfguard's Avatar
 

if its chopped to where its unrecognizable, then yes..............................
Old 25th May 2006
  #25
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CaliTone's Avatar
 

I don't sample at all. Mainly because I don't want to go through the headache of getting the sample cleared. Also, most of the time, the publisher of the sample material will ask for a huge percentage (i've heard of up to 75%). What's the point of that?!
Old 25th May 2006
  #26
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overdose's Avatar
 

Tell me if you can hear what sample I used on The sample track on myspace.

www.myspace.com/pleazurehouse

If you get big enough to get sued then you have probably made it.
Old 25th May 2006
  #27
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blaugruen7's Avatar
using samples is composing,too.
you do not ask the composer of acoustic music to invent his own instruments.
do you?
Old 25th May 2006
  #28
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max cooper's Avatar
 

You can start to get into the discussion of 'what is art'. I think it's a nonsense question because who is gonna be the arbiter.

I saw a John Cage exhibit at the LA Museum of Contemporary Art where there was a large gallery full of different works by different artists; pieces from the museum's collection.

There was a probability algorithm that was determining which pieces were on display at what time and where they were placed.

It was definitely a "John Cage work" and yes, it contained original works by other artists.

Why can't it be both?

Guys like Dvorak wandered around getting folk songs from various people and using them as seeds for his compositions.

So, has anyone made anything original lately?
Old 25th May 2006
  #29
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Igotsoul4u's Avatar
I can think of 2 huge producers that would be perfect examples of different schools of sampling. Justblaze and kanye. I have way more respect for blaze because he doesn't use the tonality and feel of the sample do define the song. He flips it to the point that it doesn't stand its own. If you took the samples out of kanye's tracks they would sound just like they did 30 years ago. A majority of his tracks are totally dependent on the sample. I have way more respect for people that sample in the way blaze does.
Old 25th May 2006
  #30
Gear Addict
 

If you truly think Ski Mask Way is not an original composition based on the original sample, come see me fuuck
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