Sampling The World Of Music

There are still those who dismiss sampling as derivative re-hashing of other people’s work, but in truth the potential of sampling extends the reach of musicians into new avenues much as (then) new technologies like the piano once did…

Giant Shoulders

One of the great canards of music is that of originality; if you strive to be completely original, you will probably never create anything. For example, if you try to write a song without using any chords that have ever been played before, you will probably end up with some sort of sonic mush that may well sound like a Thurston Moore demo track (and arguably not music at all). Of course, that is no reason not to try… but we shouldn’t worry if someone later points out that what we’ve done is in some way similar to a previous work (which we may or may not have ever heard).

Stimulating Creativity

In this context, sampling can be very liberating – if you are deliberately starting out by taking something pre-existing and then trying to put your own slant on it, you don’t have to worry about such comparisons sneaking up on you. It’s a different approach to creation, and even this can be enough to release a bout of writer’s block.

In fact, one songwriting technique worth trying is building a track around a sample (musical riff, beat, noise pulse), and later removing the original sample from the mix entirely – what you’re left with is probably a track that couldn’t be tied back to the source sample by anyone who didn’t know it was there originally.

For some further observations on sampling, here’s a TED talk by Mark Ronson which uses some TED mashups…


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