The Amen Break

Yet more sampling history …

This fascinating, brilliant 20-minute video narrates the history of the “Amen Break,” a six-second drum sample from the b-side of a chart-topping single from 1969. This sample was used extensively in early hiphop and sample-based music, and became the basis for drum-and-bass and jungle music — a six-second clip that spawned several entire subcultures. Nate Harrison’s 2004 video is a meditation on the ownership of culture, the nature of art and creativity, and the history of a remarkable music clip.

Get the QT video here or here.

Via Boing Boing

The History of Sampling

Following the sampling theme of my previous post, check out this visual display of sampling artists vs. sampled artists.

Each square represents an album, with sampled artists on the lower half and sampling artists on the upper half. Albums are placed horizontally according to release date, while vertical placement reflects the number of samples on that album. The middle resprents the area of most sampling, so commonly sampled albums are closer to the side with the sampling albums, and vice versa.

The History of Sampling

Via Audio Mastermind

From the Autobahn to I-94: The Origins of Detroit Techno and Chicago House

Twenty years ago, two groups of young, mostly black Midwesterners– influenced in parts by disco, Philly Soul, and European synth-pop– simultaneously created the two major movements in modern dance music, house and techno. We celebrate those minimal, primitive early pangs of mechanized dance by speaking to Detroit techno pioneers Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson, Eddie “Flashin” Fowlkes, Blake Baxter, and Mike Grant, as well as Chicago House-DJ Tyree Cooper about the connections between the techno and house capitols.

Heiko Hoffmann has an interesting discussion with House and Techno pioneers about the early days.

I don’t claim to know much about music history, but I love reading stuff like this — tracing back the progression from one style of music to another with innovations from creative individuals. I’d love to listen to samples of mixes from back then … I just don’t know where to look.

Via Module Records blog.

The Music Genome Project

I’ve just started playing around with Pandora, but it looks promising. Put simply, these guys tagged songs by over 10,000 artists based on musical elements. The result is a music search engine/streamer based on “music genes” rather than the genre someone labels it. I thought for sure “John Tejada” would break it, figuring they would have skipped EDM, but the results include an interesting mix of techno, trance, and breaks.

On January 6, 2000 a group of musicians and music-loving technologists came together with the idea of creating the most comprehensive analysis of music ever.

Together we set out to capture the essence of music at the most fundamental level. We ended up assembling literally hundreds of musical attributes or “genes” into a very large Music Genome. Taken together these genes capture the unique and magical musical identity of a song – everything from melody, harmony and rhythm, to instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics, and of course the rich world of singing and vocal harmony. It’s not about what a band looks like, or what genre they supposedly belong to, or about who buys their records – it’s about what each individual song sounds like.

Over the past 5 years, we’ve carefully listened to the songs of over 10,000 different artists – ranging from popular to obscure – and analyzed the musical qualities of each song one attribute at a time. This work continues each and every day as we endeavor to include all the great new stuff coming out of studios, clubs and garages around the world.

It has been quite an adventure, you could say a little crazy – but now that we’ve created this extraordinary collection of music analysis, we think we can help be your guide as you explore your favorite parts of the music universe.

Via Project Nothing.

A vocabulary of culture

Most internet-savvy people will begin their searches for information with either Google or Wikipedia. But if you’re looking for an alternate, more personalized source specifically pertaining to culture, check out Jan Geerinck’s This isn’t fresh news by any means, as Jan has been adding to the site since starting in 1996. I first stumbled upon Jan’s site when searching for information on the history of electronic dance music. Immediately I noticed how thoroughly his site documents every detail of all genres of music. If you back out to the index, you’ll see the site catalogues much more than music.


I just stumbled upon some good supplemental material. Intuitive Music has a pretty comprehensive Techno Guide, including not only definitions, but lists of artists and labels and a decent timeline.