Editorial: How Sampling is a Constructive Art Form in Music

Some of my favorite songs have always been those that sample other songs because I’ve always been drawn to their ability to make something already amazing even more so. Recently, I came across this Ted Talk by Mark Ronson called “How Sampling Transformed Music” and it really furthered my appeal and appreciation for these songs.

Story | Alyssa San Agustin

There’s always controversy about the validity of sampling songs. For example, the Grammy’s committee says if your song has some kind of preexisting or prewritten music you’re not eligible for song of the year. Some people think it is unoriginal and lazy but Ronson really goes in to defeat the stigma when he states this:

“They weren’t sampling these records because they were too lazy to write their own music. They weren’t sampling these records to cash in on the familiarity of the original stuff. To be honest it was all about sampling the really obscure things. The thing is they were sampling those records because they heard something about the music that spoke to them; that they instantly wanted to inject themselves into the narrative of that music. They heard it, they wanted to be a part of it and all the sudden they were in possession of technology that allowed them to do so.”

One of my biggest childhood dreams has always been to become a DJ and I think that’s why I really loved sampled music. When the technology was finally available, DJs took records and scratched on them and turned them into something original and unique. They heard these records and liked them but they knew they could add something different to them. So they experimented and came up with some works of art.

Today, there are so many songs that are sampled; many which you could have had no idea, featured a sample. Some of hip hop’s biggest artists such as The Notorious B.I.G, Drake, J. Cole, and Kanye West just to name a few are masters toward using samples in their music.

Vox did a great job deconstructing Kanye’s genius work through his sampling. Kanye takes something he loves which happens to be the human voice and uniquely features it in his tracks. He uses the human voice as his base line, percussion, and the medley within his music.

“We take the things that we love and we build on them. When we really add something significant and original and we merge our musical journey with theirs then we have a chance to be a part of the evolution of that music that we love and be linked with it once it becomes something new again.” – Mark Ronson

Sampled music works because it is not just recycling old music it is helping it stay relevant and evolve over time as things change in the world. I believe that it is a nostalgic feel along with some modernism which helps both the old and new generations connect on the same level.

http://www.whosampled.com/ is a great website to mess around with to see which of your favorite songs actually sample other songs. When I first played around with this site I discovered older music I would’ve never came across had it not been for one of my favorite artists sampling them.

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