Sampling and Turntablism

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“Caught, now in court cause I stole a beat
This is a sampling sport”
– Public Enemy – “Caught, Can We Get A Witness?”

 When it comes to sampling and turntablism in regards to music, I am pretty much clueless.  However I feel that both of these art forms are often neglected and given negative connotations as either “stealing” or “noise”.  If you are remotely interested in either sampling or turntabling, I recommend watching the documentary “Scratch“.

  Some people refer to scratching as merely noise due to a dj dragging a record against a needle to make sound or noise.  As well they may say all it really takes to do is a person to turn a record.  In regards to this, isn’t drumming just hitting something?  There is more to these arts then just simple body movements.  Some DJs and turntablists are able to take a single sample of an instrument and through various scratching techniques make it sound like this single instrument is playing a more complex piece.  For an awesome example and video of this check out Kid Koala – Drunk Trumpet.

  Sampling sometimes has the negative connation of “stealing” due to dj’s taking pieces or samples from other musician’s music.  However look at a musician like DJ Shadow who’s album “Endtroducing…” is built around samples and uses them merely as building blocks in creating a song that is uniquely different from the artists who he sampled from.  DJ Spooky has an interesting view on sampling in saying that songs which use many samples form kind of a network between songs and/or genres which may not have existed before.

To illustrate an example of this I am going to choose a song from, in my opinion, one of the greatest rap albums of all time: Public Enemy’s “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back”.   The song I am choosing is “She Watch Channel Zero“.  According to Wikipedia the samples that are listed (and known) for this song are:


  • Angel of Death” by Slayer (guitar)
  • “Funky Drummer” by James Brown (drums) 

  •   In this respect, “She Watch Channel Zero” acts as a connector between Slayer’s “Angel of Death” and (the often sampled) “Funky Drummer” by James Brown.   This in a sense makes “She Watch Channel Zero” an amalgamation of a thrash metal song and a funk song.  Although this is a simple example consisting of two samples it helps to show how sampling can be viewed, in a sociological-like sense, as a bridge between two different musical genres that appear to share little in common. 

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    4 Responses to Sampling and Turntablism

    1. bananatree says:

      Sampling is a tough thing to defend sometimes. I know a guy who will talk your ear off about how music isn’t music unless it’s a real person playing an instrument, and that sampling and sequencing isn’t music.

      I try and defend a good sample, but he’s an idiot and won’t listen to any reason. I find that some samples are garbage and some are really good. A nice funk or jazz sample that hasn’t been played to death is pretty awesome, then again, when you hear the same old 80’s synth or bass line, it get’s a bit tiring.

      Check out my blog for a sample that you will hear over and over again.

    2. […] This blog brought up sampling and reminded me of this video: The video is a little long, but I think it is worth it to watch/listen to the whole thing. One of the main samples in “Straight Outta Compton” is from “Amen, Brother” by the Winstons and remains one of the most heard samples along with James Brown’s “Funky Drummer”. Watch the video and you will see what I mean. Amazing stuff. I’ll defend sampling to the death, blending forms of art together to make something new isn’t a crime, it’s making the best of what you have. A sampler, a giant collection of records, and hours of time on your hands. This image is from waaaay back when Dr. Dre was in the World Class Wreckin’ Cru doing hip-hop with more of an electro flavor (before sampling became the preferred means of beat production). Clicking on the image will link you to an old skool hip-hop mixtape compiled by Dre that he used to sell at swap-meets in L.A No Comments so far Leave a comment RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI Leave a comment Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> […]

    3. […] I mentioned before, when it comes to turntables I am clueless.   However this doesn’t mean I’m not […]

    4. ClussyMus says:

      To me it is necessary to find

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