Unit 5: Production Skills and Context

Sampling Techniques Project

By Johnny Hourigan

This is the article on knowing about sampling techniques.

What is sampling?

Sampling is a phrase for ‘borrowing’ a piece of audio from someone’s track or anything. If you intended to release it, you need permission from the copyright holder to allow you to release it with permission.

Before we get to the release window, how do you create a track with samples without creating a fresh one? To start out, you will need a Mac computer, a Bluetooth keyboard, a soundcard and a vinyl record player. Once you remember the list, you need some vinyl records from a record shop. When you go to the record shop, try doing this challenge called ‘crate digging.

‘Crate Digging’ is mostly a hip-hop term for when one person goes to a record shop to look for old records to sample. Let’s say you pick three records, buy them and then we get into sampling one piece of an instrument from three records one by one.

Once you got three records ready to sample, pick one record first on the record player to the beginning of the track on either side to listen out for the first sound like a snare rim, a clap or any other instruments etc.

Try recording for at least a minute or so to listen back and pick your favourite parts to chop and edit one sample at the time.

Why rather than chop and edit samples as a finished track, why not play the samples on the keyboard. To do that, open a new software track, click on the instrument icon that is visibly below ‘MIDI FX’, once the list of instruments is open, go to the EXS24 section that will open the EXS24 window. After that, click on the icon that says ‘edit’ and it will open up another window. Once the EXS24 editor is open, drag your sample into the window and then test the sample on what key is playing and you can make a decision whether your sample could be slower, normal or faster.

To save your samples, make sure you save your soundbank in a folder plus carry your USB as a backup.

If you want to release the sampled song, you need to ask the publisher’s permission to use the sample, as the publisher is the owner or one of the owner’s intellectual properties. After you got the permission and the song is recorded and sold, PRS for Music collect fees that have been agreed as part of the licensing agreement. The British Phonographic Industry works out how many sales have occurred; this is determined how much is earned. Fees are been collected from the sales by PRS and distributed to the copyright holders.

Copyright music recordings did last 50 years but it has extended to 70 years which means that it is harder to use samples freely from an artist(s)/band(s). Paul McGuiness, the manager of U2 wrote in the Daily Telegraph in the summer of 2011 “the systemic copyright infringement that has helped wipe out so many musicians, bands and labels in recent years. I can’t think of a single artist or band that split up or retired in protest at illegal downloading.” This shows major artist(s) or band(s) don’t suffer too badly from illegal use of sampling. Sampling isn’t a bad thing, it’s meant to represent creativity to learn how to sample and learn how to avoid consequences.

From my experience of using the sampling techniques, I choose a record from Patrice Rushen’s seventh album called “Straight from the Heart”. The sample I selected from the record was called “Where There Is Love”. In case no one knows who Patrice Rushen is, she is a American R&B singer, music producer and jazz pianist who is known for her 1983 song  “Forget Me Nots”.  Her song only made it to the top 40 in six different countries and her song was nominated for ‘Best Female R&B Vocal Performance’ in 1983. “Forget Me Nots” was so popular, it was sampled 28 times.

Anyway back to the subject I was discussing before I told the biogarphy, the track “Where There Is Love” is a slow tempo song that has 75 BPM. The structure of the song has Intro, two verses, three choruses and two instrumental gaps (one for 4 bars and the other is 4 bars extended). As the track progress, she leaves the instrumental gaps to allow the empty part for the music to speak for itself. The track has a mellow soul with jazz blues fusion and the lyric content is heavily close to the subject of love and romance.

The sample track I had structured was short, 40 seconds long and it has an intro and an instrumental section. The sample is 75 BPM like the original but completely different.

As I mentioned before, I chose the melody 4 bar intro section from “Where There is Love” The reason why I chose it is because I like how the melody sounds slow and groovy.

To conclude, I really enjoyed making a sample track I wanted to try out to learn from it and it shows that sampling is a hard job but how do you think other people would feel the same way how they tried it the first time? People in the old days like Dr. Dre for instance, he would go the same path to sample old records to interpret his own style of hip-hop when he was with NWA or his own. I find Patrice Rushen’s history is very interesting, her song “Forget Me Nots” came into my head and it reminded me of Will Smith’s 1997 No.1 song “Men In Black” which it was sampled from “Forget Me Nots”. It was interesting to know that people sample old or recent records every time, it’s the creative to pick any individual sounds to interpret your own skills by knowing how to sample and go for it. Without sampling any records, nothing will be the same if there’s creativity to explore.


Crate Digging


Copyright Extension article

Mello Romance

Who Sampled Forget Me Nots

Patrice Rushen’s biography


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