is sampling other people's music a real talent?

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#1 Posted by 4myAmuzumament (1743 posts) -

Is being able to rearrange someone else's creativity into your own work really a talent? A lot of rappers and hip hop artists do this and make money off of it. But then there are people who absolutely couldn't take sounds from somewhere else and make entirely new coherent piece.

Most importantly:

- Is Kanye West a good artist?

- Is sampling a shameful way of being classified as a musician?

- Is sampling dancing on the line of piracy and original content, or is it simply one or the other?

I love hearing good sounds, so I'm all in for sampling and samplers making money off of samples. Though, it sometimes disappoints me when I learn a song I've loved forever was just sampled from a much better song.

Kanye West is a god, though. He's got the rap/hip-hop game in control right now. No one is better at this moment.

#2 Edited by Brutal_Elitegs (16154 posts) -

i don't think it really matters, so long as the sample is used in an original way. even great classical composers borrowed themes, what is important is what they did with them.

#3 Edited by platinumking320 (663 posts) -

@4myAmuzumament: I don't think we've ever heard a completely original piece of music. Certainly not in our generation. Samplings cool, we just need more public attribution and collaboration among musicians producers and djs, and the way people create is largely derivative. Original music is essentially derivative work that is so composed or changed up that you hardly notice.

Before samplers and DJ culture came into the picture when everyone wanted to be in a band. People just ripped off scales harmonies and riffs from blues and folk artists. (I.E. Led Zeppelin who made a career of this) Even completely covering someone else's song in live performance is not frowned upon. That's all the Jackson 5 did. Sometimes theres a cold vibe or style in recordings that people like Bjork and Amon Tobin Portishead would literally re-sample their own live recordings just to get the feeling of hip-hop or vinyl breaks.

Some folks even call the DJ a thief getting known for playing other peoples songs. but that's just our modern 2K smug air of 'entitlement' in our vocal digital age. Thousands of songs are released a year, bands come and go, and talented modern pop stars made to fit in the image of older era pop stars. Entertainers are still regarded by adult consumers as circus sideshow

In that music climate, to sort through all those artifacts, and put together a unique musical journey, is to create art as worthy as photography is art.

#4 Posted by Nengo_Flow (9376 posts) -

most songs are taken from other older songs, but most people dont know it.

Most chorus parts of songs, are almost always taken from older songs.

#5 Posted by foxhound_fox (87364 posts) -

So long as they use it in a creative (i.e. new) way and make it sound musical then yes.

#6 Posted by foxhound_fox (87364 posts) -

most songs are taken from other older songs, but most people dont know it.

Most chorus parts of songs, are almost always taken from older songs.

Indeed. A large part of Led Zeppelin's catalogue is just covers of old blues songs. Some of their most famous tracks are covers.

And there are situations where the covers can be better than the originals:

i.e.

George Thorogood's "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" or Jeff Healey's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"

#7 Edited by the_bi99man (11047 posts) -

Of course not.

Edit: I'm assuming that you're talking about sampling as in, what rappers and djs do. Where they literally play someone else's original recording, slightly edit it or chop it up, and then rap over it. If the raps are good, it can still be kind of cool, but it's nowhere near as talented or creative as making original beats. Covering songs, like foxhound is talking about, is an entirely different thing.

#8 Edited by the_bi99man (11047 posts) -

@4myAmuzumament: I don't think we've ever heard a completely original piece of music. Certainly not in our generation.

most songs are taken from other older songs, but most people dont know it.

Most chorus parts of songs, are almost always taken from older songs.

So.. do you guys like only listen to rap and hip hop or something?

Song covers, like what Zeppelin and countless other bands did constantly decades ago, and many bands still do, is a whole different kind of thing, that I don't think the TC is talking about. Sampling, is where the artist (usually a DJ or other electronic musician) literally plays another artist's original recording with some tweaks and edits, maybe some effects, and usually uses it as a backing track for an original lead line, like a rap or something. And that practice is certainly not as widespread as these two posts would seem to imply. Aside from a couple exceptions, it pretty much only exists in rap/hip hop, electronic and pop music. And even within those genres, there are plenty of artists who don't do it, or at least not often. And most other genres have almost never seen it used.

#9 Edited by Nengo_Flow (9376 posts) -

@platinumking320 said:

@4myAmuzumament: I don't think we've ever heard a completely original piece of music. Certainly not in our generation.

@Nengo_Flow said:

most songs are taken from other older songs, but most people dont know it.

Most chorus parts of songs, are almost always taken from older songs.

So.. do you guys like only listen to rap and hip hop or something?

Song covers, like what Zeppelin and countless other bands did constantly decades ago, and many bands still do, is a whole different kind of thing, that I don't think the TC is talking about. Sampling, is where the artist (usually a DJ or other electronic musician) literally plays another artist's original recording with some tweaks and edits, maybe some effects, and usually uses it as a backing track for an original lead line, like a rap or something. And that practice is certainly not as widespread as these two posts would seem to imply. Aside from a couple exceptions, it pretty much only exists in rap/hip hop, electronic and pop music. And even within those genres, there are plenty of artists who don't do it, or at least not often. And most other genres have almost never seen it used.

I dont really listen to music in english. I became bored of it, the last time I kept up with rap/hiphop music was when I was 13 (2005)

#10 Posted by the_bi99man (11047 posts) -

I dont really listen to music in english. I became bored of it, the last time I kept up with rap/hiphop music was when I was 13 (2005)

Mmk. It's just that, your initial post, "Most chorus parts of songs, are almost always taken from older songs". Rap and hip hop is really the only music genre where that's even close to being true. And even then, it's not "most". That is, of course, if you're talking about "sampling", the way the OP is. If you're talking about something else, then I'm confused.

#11 Posted by -ParaNormaN- (718 posts) -

Well, I think it's really cool when bands play covers of other bands or use a certain riff in their own song that is used in an older song. If you can play it on your instrument then the person is already talented, so yeah, I think sampling is talented in that way. Rap sampling is cool too when the rapper or singer puts their vocals over the track instead of using the original singers vocals. Sometimes there are songs where a rapper samples someone elses song for a certain part of their song like Eminem did with Stan. He samples the intro of Thank You by Dido and uses it in the chorus and also samples the first half of the music for him to rap over. It worked really well and made out to be one of his more powerful songs in The Marshall Mathers LP.

In rap it's not the rappers sampling the music though or should I say, "creating" the music. I believe it's the producers who do this and the rappers just lay vocals over it. Artists like Eminem and Dr. Dre have full control over their work so, I can say with confidence that they are both really talented at what they do.

#12 Posted by the_bi99man (11047 posts) -

Well, I think it's really cool when bands play covers of other bands or use a certain riff in their own song that is used in an older song. If you can play it on your instrument then the person is already talented, so yeah, I think sampling is talented in that way.

That's not sampling. That's just covering.

Your other example, Eminem's Stan. That's sampling. And I agree on that one, it was very well done. One of Eminem's best songs, and the choice of that particular song to sample, and the use of the sample, was where a lot of its power came from. As a side note, the live performance of Stan that Eminem did with Elton John was amazing. In that version, they didn't use the sample, instead Elton John sang the parts that were originally sampled from the Dido song, making it more of a cover.

#13 Edited by foxhound_fox (87364 posts) -

So.. do you guys like only listen to rap and hip hop or something?

Song covers, like what Zeppelin and countless other bands did constantly decades ago, and many bands still do, is a whole different kind of thing, that I don't think the TC is talking about. Sampling, is where the artist (usually a DJ or other electronic musician) literally plays another artist's original recording with some tweaks and edits, maybe some effects, and usually uses it as a backing track for an original lead line, like a rap or something. And that practice is certainly not as widespread as these two posts would seem to imply. Aside from a couple exceptions, it pretty much only exists in rap/hip hop, electronic and pop music. And even within those genres, there are plenty of artists who don't do it, or at least not often. And most other genres have almost never seen it used.

Like this?

#14 Posted by platinumking320 (663 posts) -

@platinumking320 said:

@4myAmuzumament: I don't think we've ever heard a completely original piece of music. Certainly not in our generation.

@Nengo_Flow said:

most songs are taken from other older songs, but most people dont know it.

Most chorus parts of songs, are almost always taken from older songs.

So.. do you guys like only listen to rap and hip hop or something?

Song covers, like what Zeppelin and countless other bands did constantly decades ago, and many bands still do, is a whole different kind of thing, that I don't think the TC is talking about. Sampling, is where the artist (usually a DJ or other electronic musician) literally plays another artist's original recording with some tweaks and edits, maybe some effects, and usually uses it as a backing track for an original lead line, like a rap or something. And that practice is certainly not as widespread as these two posts would seem to imply. Aside from a couple exceptions, it pretty much only exists in rap/hip hop, electronic and pop music. And even within those genres, there are plenty of artists who don't do it, or at least not often. And most other genres have almost never seen it used.

Why assume that? I like Soundgarden, Pat Metheny Group's fusion jazz. It may be different in physical input and manipulating the sonic field to produce a sound. but when that traditional form of making music was THE ONLY WAY, the point is that the trend of covering was highlighted more, commerical recording artists by and large worked off of familiar scales and chords from instead of inventing radically different ones.

Prince sampled James Brown's the Funky Drummer for the song Ganster Glam. and for what you may not hear in country or a Hans Zimmer film score, sampled drum breaks are commonly processed and compressed, saturated, pitchshifted and embedded into other known albums such as Amy Winehouse.

Product commercial music samples just as electronic and hip hop music, and have to wade through the same legal waters. They can't always afford to host a band and assure a recording session will go as planned, and while there are other sounds of analogue synths, recorded music has more weight, warmth and atmosphere to mess with and manipulate in a studio recording than plain vanilla live re-plays.

If it didn't sound good, people would have given it up decades ago.

#15 Edited by -ParaNormaN- (718 posts) -

@-paranorman- said:

Well, I think it's really cool when bands play covers of other bands or use a certain riff in their own song that is used in an older song. If you can play it on your instrument then the person is already talented, so yeah, I think sampling is talented in that way.

That's not sampling. That's just covering.

Your other example, Eminem's Stan. That's sampling. And I agree on that one, it was very well done. One of Eminem's best songs, and the choice of that particular song to sample, and the use of the sample, was where a lot of its power came from. As a side note, the live performance of Stan that Eminem did with Elton John was amazing. In that version, they didn't use the sample, instead Elton John sang the parts that were originally sampled from the Dido song, making it more of a cover.

Yes, the Eminem and Elton John cover was pretty awesome. What if a band took a riff from another band but played original music for the rest of the song? Say a band took the main riff of Metallica's For Whom The Bell Tolls but that's all they played from it and made the rest of the music an original piece. Would that still be considered a cover?

#16 Posted by Masculus (2823 posts) -

I don't think it is, but is forgivable in the context of early hip-hop. Right now, samples are just expensive commodities - when Kanye West doest it, what he really means with it is: "Look how much money I have spent in making this track!". Don't think using harmonies or scales is the same as sampling, not by a long shot.

#17 Posted by themajormayor (25671 posts) -

Army of the Pharaohs

Nuff said.

#18 Posted by Marth6352 (27 posts) -
#19 Posted by kuzronk (1 posts) -

It depends. You have really great sampled music like Endtroducing..... but also have bored people at home just raping over another song without changing it.

#20 Edited by HAZE-Unit (10464 posts) -

I liked you until you said Kanye West has the rap game on lock smh..

I think sampling is best used in only one song from your whole album but if the whole album is from sampling then it gets ridiculous and you could see how unoriginal an artist could be by doing that.

Unless the whole album is specially dedicated samples song to song for a classic band or something like that because you can't get samples all over the place with an album, it would sound so cheap and out of pace.

And of course there is the issue of the production of the record itself and how the sample is mixed with the song.

Overall I like artists who bring lyrics that have meaning and complement them with samples from great songs which make me appreciate the original even more like this one and sing for the moment.

Then comes Wiz Khalifa and ruins Crono Trigger music like that. Don't get me wrong, the sample goes very well with the flow of lyrics but the lyrics does not relate at all with Crono Trigger and the lyrics are meaningless.

#21 Edited by playmynutz (5980 posts) -

Kanye West is lyrically forget the sample beats. Like Kid Cudi say rappers are samples rapping on samples that they don't even know. I think its cool to sample a new track because a lot of hip-hop samples the same song. No samples is preferred but sample tracks are still enjoyable

Meek Mill - Kill Em (eminem sample) was insane

#22 Edited by Shmiity (5010 posts) -

Be prepared to pay the royalty fee.

#23 Posted by DaBrainz (7623 posts) -

Sampling has its place but Kanye doesn't sample, he just rhymes over the whole track of a different song.

#24 Posted by platinumking320 (663 posts) -

IDK. For me. I see it as the classic 'high art' vs 'folk art' debate. It comes from the DJ culture, and its mainly an intuitive process. Knowing and blending snippets that work together in a constant rhythm with little to no flaw isn't something that anyone off the street can consistently perform. It takes practice and development. DJs had to become just as educated in music theory as other musicians to pull off harmonic mixes.

Notice how drawing and painting / photography and digital photography don't largely have this debate. All forms are respected because most people understand you have to put work in to compose something interesting.

#25 Edited by MrGeezer (56040 posts) -

I have no problem with it in principle. What we're basically talking about is taking something made by a different artist and appropriating it into a new body of work. And that's really sort of already accepted for the most part. Collage artists can use clippings from magazines, and that's considered okay even though they didn't personally make the content of the clippings. Photographers may photograph a statue or a building, even though they didn't construct of design it. In terms of "is it valid art", I would say most definitely. You just have to do it in such a way that the work becomes distinctly yours. It's sort of a gestalt kind of thing the whole is other than the sum of its parts. If one part is taken from another artist, that's fine as long the whole comes off as original.

Of course, that's just talking about talent and artistic merit. Legally may be a different matter. For all i know, you could sample someone else's work and still have to pay them because it's still considered their work.

#26 Posted by redstorm72 (4517 posts) -

I takes some degree of talent, yeah. It is still lazy though. Try coming up with your own catchy riffs/chorus's/whatever.

#27 Edited by shellcase86 (1934 posts) -

Sampling is fine. It's been going on pretty much since music's inception. To answer your questions:

- Is Kanye West a good artist? He's had better days, but yes, I think he stills puts outs quality stuff.

- Is sampling a shameful way of being classified as a musician? No. Their does need to be some original effort though.

- Is sampling dancing on the line of piracy and original content, or is it simply one or the other? If there is disclosure, then no.

#28 Edited by comp_atkins (31200 posts) -

people can't be expected to come up w/ new music. after all, we're running out.

#29 Edited by platinumking320 (663 posts) -
@redstorm72 said:

I takes some degree of talent, yeah. It is still lazy though. Try coming up with your own catchy riffs/chorus's/whatever.

Sure that's inherent to a lot of EDM and Hip Hop production. Its more common to chop up loops into single hits to play out notes and process drums in single hits. Especially when it comes to editing and mixing down. People have to manage unwanted noise in recordings.

No matter the tools used there's no set bar as how long one should toil or how difficult it should be to make a track. It could take a week, maybe a day or two, maybe no less than a few hours. The only real bar for accomplishment is does it sound cool?

That's the primary judgement we make when we consume music. It depends on what it is. So the same thought process goes into making it. If a loop comes off nicer than any self-played equipment, why not see if you can use it?

#30 Posted by lamprey263 (22764 posts) -

I think it is, not everybody can do it good.

I think MF Doom does some really good sampling, and some really good original work. Check out his Special Herb mixes on YouTube (Volumes 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8). It's hard to tell when his stuff is original or when he's sampling, so I guess he's got talent if he can fool me. I'd have to check the Wikipedia info on each song to know for sure.

#31 Edited by BluRayHiDef (10837 posts) -

Kanye West is fucking garbage. His quality as a rapper - that is, someone who can use and manipulate words to create a rhyming flow - is very low.

#32 Posted by the_bi99man (11047 posts) -

Like this?

Yes, exactly. Another great use of sampling.

@the_bi99man: you have no idea what you're talking about

Care to enlighten me, then? All I've said here is to point out that some people in this thread seem to be confused about what exactly "sampling" is. So, you can kindly fuck off, Mr. Troll.

#33 Posted by the_bi99man (11047 posts) -

Kanye West is fucking garbage. His quality as a rapper - that is, someone who can use and manipulate words to create a rhyming flow - is very low.

Also this. I have to agree. I don't understand why so many people seem to think Kanye West is so great. He's not even close to being the "best rapper ever". He's barely mediocre, at best. There are literally hundreds of underground rappers who display more talent on a single track than Kanye has in his whole career, and they do it without the pomp, arrogance, and douchebag attitude.

#34 Posted by platinumking320 (663 posts) -

@BluRayHiDef said:

Kanye West is fucking garbage. His quality as a rapper - that is, someone who can use and manipulate words to create a rhyming flow - is very low.

Also this. I have to agree. I don't understand why so many people seem to think Kanye West is so great. He's not even close to being the "best rapper ever". He's barely mediocre, at best. There are literally hundreds of underground rappers who display more talent on a single track than Kanye has in his whole career, and they do it without the pomp, arrogance, and douchebag attitude.

It's no surpise when the bar has lowered since what we would call hip-hop's golden age. Battling MC's wasn't optional, it was the measuring stick for all kinds of lyricists regardless of their background. Every time I go back and listen to Redman, Nas, A tribe Called Quest or Eminem, it still makes me scratch my head when comparing it to today. And those Vh1 honors list as you'll hear from Sway's radio show are full of holes, and not really informed about core contributions to hip-hop. They let commercial america define success based on sales, instead of consulting people who were actually involved.

#35 Edited by destinhpark (4700 posts) -

If used in a proper and creative structure, sure. I think it takes skill to mix stuff like that. Even if it's other people original sounds, if you can make your own original beat while implementing it, it can be considered a creative talent.