Bending Beats

I feel some-kinda-way when I hear folks blather on about how sampling isn’t a ‘real’ art form. Not only is it legit as hell (just peep a fave-of-mine DJ Shadow; no difference—aesthetically—in my mind between “Midnight In A Perfect World” and “Clair De Lune”) it speaks to a universal truth. Stop rolling your eyes. Let me explain…

A sample of a big band cut includes many parts—a pianist, a trombonist, a trumpeter, a saxophonist, the list goes on-an’-on. Such a ‘big’ ensemble requires a lot of ‘space’ to produce a sound; in its recorded form however, this massive sound becomes compressed which allows it to be shared in much ‘smaller’ spaces (like playin’ in ya Walkman while you watch the dog races). What the producer does is take a snippet of this compression (a particle if you will) and adds it to other snippets of compression (resulting in a particulate ‘fusion’). In essence he/she takes an expansive element and contracts it; bending time (the big band cut was produced in the past) and space (and was recorded in a different place). The ‘new’ beat becomes like a wormhole that allows matter to travel far-and-wide which leads to crazy phenomena like: a kid in the Bronx bopping his head to a cut that includes a jazz sample from a time when not even his granddaddy was alive.


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