An Oral History of Sampling

From Turntables to Mashups

Authored by: Kembrew McLeod

The Routledge Companion to Remix Studies

Print publication date:  December  2014
Online publication date:  November  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415716253
eBook ISBN: 9781315879994
Adobe ISBN: 9781134748747


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Artists have traditionally borrowed from each other and have been directly inspired by the world that surrounds them. But what happens—ethically, legally, aesthetically—when digital technologies allow for very literal audio quotes to be inserted into new works? Sampling refers to the act of digitally recording pieces of preexisting music and placing those bits in a new song. This appropriation practice can be viewed—with some obvious differences, of course—as an extension of earlier African American musical traditions that valued musical appropriation, such as the blues, jazz, and gospel. Well over a decade before the file sharing controversies—beginning with Napster, in 1999—pushed the topic of copyright to the front pages of newspapers, hip hop artists had already raised similar legal and moral questions when they began using the new audio technology of digital sampling. 1

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