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Dustin LindenSmith

father | musician | writer

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off the wall 1979

The history of the "Amen" drum break, or a brief history of hip-hop and drum sampling

This video is great. It's mainly for listening (i.e. not much to look at), and it covers in detail the history of a particular drum breakbeat from 1969 which has become, in the words of the narrator, a ubiquitous part of the pop culture soundscape. It's excellent. And it concludes with an interesting commentary on modern directions in copyright law.

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jdquintette August 3rd, 2006
My reaction to this is twofold:

First of all, that pattern is not unique to that particular recording, but was in fact a very common pocket in use by drummers throughout the second half of the sixties. I could go into my collection and come up with a half-dozen just like it no sweat, starting with Cliff Nobles "The Horse." But why the hell would I even bother? Every drummer I've ever worked with, going all the way back to my earlist crappy little high school bands, could play it in their sleep. This is not some precious artifict not to be duplicated before or since, but a groove drummers play all the time. It's only of use if you're too lazy, unmotivated, or unskilled to play it yourself.

As for breaking it up into component parts and mixing and matching them, computer technicians are not the only ones capable of doing this. There are other folks called 'drummers' who are pretty good at it too.

This brings me to the second part of this guys crappy 'straw man' argument, the notion that restrictive copywrite laws are somehow placing obstacles in the way of 'creativity.'

Western copywrite laws do not apply to rhythms, only particular copywrited performances of rhythms. These guys are free to play any rhythm any way they want, record it, and use it in any manner they please. But that would involve investing time, effort and study in actually becoming a musician, rather than just a guy who plays around with a glorified stereo (sampler).

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