The Art Of Sampling Part 2

The Digital Revolution      07/08/08

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4:2 mins
Part 2: The Digital Revolution
Dinosaurs ruled the Earth and magnetic tape was being sliced up by men with beards. Yep, it's the 1970's. Sampling is still a far off dream. And so are PCs, Macs, the World Wide Web and even The Bush Administration. This is a very long time ago. Sound manipulation is still the domain of experimentalists and progressive rock. But towards the end of the decade, we begin to see the results of years of study and experimentation into binary processing by engineers, scientists and musicians. The green shoots of what will become music's digital revolution are beginning to break through.

Timeline - 1970-1990

The 1970's
James Brown - 'Funky Drummer' is released on the King label. The track features a solo by drummer Clyde Stubblefield. This solo becomes one of the most frequently sampled rhythmic breaks of all time.
Pink Floyd - 'Atom Hearted Mother'.
Mattel release the Optigan, a domestic organ that played musical loops from optical discs.
E-Mu Systems is founded by Dave Rossum and Scott Wedge manufacturing microchips, digital scanning keyboards and components for electronic musical instruments.
Pink Floyd - 'Meddle'
Can - 'Tago Mago' 1972
Roland Corp. is founded by Ikutaro Kakehashi in Osaka, Japan.
Bill Gates drops out of Harvard, moves to New Mexico to develop software for the new MIPS Altair 'micro-computer' with Paul Allen under the name 'Microsoft.'
Pink Floyd - 'Obscured By Clouds'
Gilbert O'Sullivan - 'Alone Again, Naturally' (this inclusion will make more sense later on). 1973
Roland release the RE-201 space echo.
Brian Eno leaves the band Roxy Music to pursue a solo career.
Pink Floyd - 'Dark Side Of The Moon'
Faust - 'The Faust Tapes'
Parliament - 'Mothership Connection' is a representation of George Clinton's Pfunk. A genre that will become a popular sample source for both Hip Hop and Gansta Rap artists. 1976
Eno collaborates with David Bowie on the album 'Low'.
Formation of New England Digital Corp. in White River Junction, Vermont.
Kim Ryrie and Peter Vogel approach fellow Australian Tony Furse to develop a microprocessor controlled synthesiser. Taking Furses Quasar M8, Ryrie and Vogel introduced the idea of using a naturally recorded soundwave as a starting point. The stunning results effectively introduce the concept of digital sampling.
Roland release the MC-8 microprocessor digital sequencer.
Wilfully obscure West Coast outfit The Residents release 'The Residents Play The Beatles/The Beatles Play The Residents'.
Kraftwerk - 'Trans Euro Express'
Donna Summer - 'I Feel Love' produced by Georgio Moroder. 1978
Parliament - 'Funkentelecy vs. The Placebo Syndrome'. Another slice of Pfunk from George Clinton includes the number one single 'Flashlight'. 1979
Computer Music Inc. develop the Melodian digital sampler.
The Fairlight CMI Series I is released.
Technics release the SL1200 direct Drive turntable.
First Synclavier goes on the market but in the light of the CMI is hurriedly upgraded to the Synclavier II.
The Sugarhill Gang's 'Rapper's Delight', is the first hip-hop record to reach Top 40 radio. Chic's 'Good Times' bassline riff is being played by the Sugar Hill in-house band Positive Force. The 1980's
It's the start of the 1980's. The AMS DMX, BD80 and Boss DE200 will soon offer DDL sampling for outboard effects. Electro Harmonix introduce an early sampling drumpad sampler called the Replay. But sampling is still very much in its infancy. Low bit rates suffer with heavy aliasing (blame it on Nyquist), lack of interpolation and rock bottom sample rates lead to grubby and unconvincing sounds. The processing power is simply not yet available.
But there are good times ahead and as the decade progresses, the age of sampling begins to take shape. 1980
Linn introduce the LM-1 sampled drum machine.
Casio release the Casiotone keyboard.
Brian Eno produces Talking Heads 'Remain in Light'.
Peter Gabriel - 'Peter Gabriel 3'
Kate Bush - 'Never For Ever' 1981
Creative Technology Ltd is founded in Singapore by Sim Wong Hoo.
E-mu's Emulator I introduces Direct Memory Access to the world of digital sampling.
The MTV Music TV Cable Network debuts on the air at Midnight, August 1st.
The first IBM-brand 'PC' (for 'Personal Computer') is released on August 12 changing the popular name of what used to be called a 'micro-computer system.'
David Smith of Sequential Circuits becomes the first to see the potential of a single integrated control system for digital synthesisers. He works up an initial proposal and presents it to the Audio Engineers Society in November of 1981. This interface is called the USI (Universal Synthesiser Interface).
Eno collaborated with Robert Fripp and David Byrne on the album, 'My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts'. Using recordings of Lay Preachers against African beats this album is a new and innovative use of sound piracy techniques.
Grandmaster Flash - 'Adventures Of Grandmaster Flash And The Wheels Of Steel' 1982
Roger Linn's Linn release the LinnDrum.
Korg, Kawaii and Yamaha join forces with Smith at Sequential, Tom Oberheim of Oberheim and Kakehashi of Roland. These three men develop the MIDI 1.0 standard and present it to the NAMM show in June.
Commodore introduce The Commodore 64 included a four-voice synthesiser on a single chip within its circuitry. Initially intended to provide sounds for games the chip would soon be utilised for music making.
Ensoniq is founded by former Commodore engineers Bob Yannes, Bruce Crockett and Al Charpentier. Their first product is a software drum machine.
The digital Compact Disc (CD) is introduced by a Japanese conglomerate.
Factory Records Hacienda Club opens in Manchester.
Trevor Horn produces the albums 'Duck Rock' by Malcom McLaren and 'Lexicon Of Love' by ABC.
Thomas Dolby - 'Golden Age of Wireless'
Laurie Anderson - 'Big Science' featuring 'O, Superman'.
Afrika Bambaataa - 'Planet Rock'
Michael Jackson - 'Thriller'
E-mu introduce the iconoclastic Drumulator.
The final refined version of MIDI becomes commercially available.
'Owner of a Lonely Heart' by Yes and 'Welcome to the Pleasuredome' by Frankie Goes To Hollywood are both produced by Trevor Horn.
Jan Hammer - 'Scenario'
Herbie Hancock - 'Rockit' 1984
Kurzweil unveil the K250 sampler, which out performs many of its rivals.
Linn release the Linn 9000 workstation drum machine.
E-Mu release the Emulator 2.
Ensoniq release the Mirage.
The (128K) Apple Macintosh personal computer debuts.
The Art Of Noise - 'Who's Afraid of the Art Of Noise' (another Trevor Horn production!).
Prince - 'Purple Rain' 1985
Akai release the S612, their introduction to the affordable digital sampling market.
With direct lineage to the Drumulator, E-mu introduce the ground breaking SP-12 sampled drum machine sequencer that will pave the way for Akai's MPC as well as further SP models.
Sequential Circuits enter the sampling market with the Prophet 2000.
The Audio Engineering Society settle on the 44.1kHz sample rate as standard for CD recordings.
Fairlight introduce the Fairlight Series III but the huge cost of producing the CMI Series mean that soon after this the company was forced to close.
Casio release the Casio SK1, the first budget sampler.
John Oswold coins the term Plunderphonics in an essay to describe audio piracy of existing recordings carried out in order to create a new composition.
Paul Hardcastle - '19'
Grace Jones's 'Slave to the Rhythm' & 'Island Life', Godley and Crème's 'Cry'
And Band Aid's 'Do They Know its Christmas?' Make up just some of Trevor Horns credits in 1985
. Tears For Fears - 'Songs From The Big Chair'
Jan Hammer - 'Miami Vice Soundtrack' 1986
Adoption of the CD starts taking a huge bite out of LP sales, causing them to drop 25%.
Roland introduce the first of their S series the S-10 and the S-50 keyboard sampler.
Casio release the RZ-1 sampled drum machine.
Akai release The Akai S-900 digital sampler.
Beastie Boys - 'Licensed to Ill' becomes the first purely sample based number one album in the US.
Run DMC - 'Raisin' Hell'
T-Coy's 'Carino' is considered to be the first UK House record.
Derrick May - 'Nude Photo'
Boogie Down Productions - 'Say No Brother'
In the third and final part of the series, we examine the consequences of low cost digital sampling and its effects on present day music production. Simon Power


Even more news...

13 Comments...  Post a comment    original story
kEyTh    Said...

somehow your time line seems to have mis-included everything Depeche Mode. What a gross mistake if your talking about sampling.. .. Sampling was totally pioneering on albums: Construction Tim Again, Some Great Reward, Black Celebration--- as far as singles People Are People was the holy grail .... did you just forget or do you hate Depeche Mode

09-Aug-08 08:28 AM

Alex Chopelas    Said...

I LOVE the residents! Nice for them to get a shout on a site like this

09-Aug-08 03:34 PM

kEyTh    Said...

and another mistake-- Fripp is NOT on "my life in the bush of ghosts" nor was their really any "digital" sampling--

no need in putting out educational videos if your facts arent correct---

seems like this video is really just someones own recollection as opposed to being actually "accurate" and with a scholarly thoroughness: Talk about tape and tape loops: absolutely discutsing is the omission of Pink Floyd and Dark of the Moon, and most specifically the track "money"-- a ruler was used to get everything all in time as it is... Talk about mellotrons: Edgar Froese and Tangerine Dream.. as well Patrick Moraz when he was in Yes... You mention Fripp in the wrong context, he does belong in this story with Eno but in the TAPE section: Fripp and Enos "No PussyFooting" and "Evening Star" were very important in terms of pioneering use of Tape Everyone used "stock sounds" on the mellotron for the most part-- these guys spent the time to have their mellotrons customized... another overlook but possibly trivial is the fact that a mellotron key held down had only 4 seconds of life before the tape came to an end... a good knowledge of harmony was definitely needed to make these things work as you couldnt just hold a key like on a synth or organ till the cows come home... I believe Edgar Froese and Rick wakeman really had this aspect mastered with these very difficult machines.... and speaking of difficult Mellotrons were very tempermental and difficult to maintain, especially on tour

10-Aug-08 12:50 PM

shekhar dhain    Said...

hmm...this certainly isnt up to the usual sonicstate standards, but then maybe it isnt supposed to be an EXHAUSTIVE guide.

10-Aug-08 06:57 PM

puzzled    Said...

kEyTh....Your point is..?

11-Aug-08 02:54 AM

bonner    Said...

Floyd and DSOTM both get a mention, as do fripp and whats that guy going on about? Was he pissed when he watched it? As usual this is very entertaining stuff.

11-Aug-08 03:03 AM

mr pink    Said...

Yeah, and Depeche Mode? OK, great band, but loads of bands were using sampling around that time. they certainly weren't early innovators like all the others mentioned here.

11-Aug-08 03:21 AM

Roi    Said...

This video is, unfortunately, rather poorly researched, and oddly biased towards the introduction of sampling into mainstream Hip-Hop, which was very minimal really until around 1985, and even then mainly revolved around the 'lowest common denominator' use of sampling, which continues to sink to new lows to this very day of course, i.e. the lifting of other peoples work from copyrighted recordings.

The first ever use of an actual 'Digital Sample' on a commercial recording was Afrika Bambaataa's Planet Rock in 1982 which uses the Fairlight's famous Orchestra Hit sound 'straight out of the box'. Also worth a mention and produced by Arthur Baker that year, is when he utilised the original EMU Emulator for the voice samples on I.O.U by Freeez, the 1st time the Emulator made it onto a commercial recording.

In 1982/83 Vince Clarke was using the Fairlight system (two of them in fact) which you can clearly hear on the 'You and Me Both' album.

In 1983 Daniel Miller, he of Mute Records/The Normal/Silicon Teens, purchased the Synclavier system which was at the time one of the only ones to have been imported to the UK. This was way, way more powerful than the Fairlight, by the way - the U.S. used to monitor precisely the whereabouts of each unit sold in case they got turned into illegal Missile Control systems!

As kEyTH rightly points out, from Depeche Mode's 1983 'Construction Time Again' album onwards, the Mute Records Synclavier system was used extensively on all Depeche Mode's recordings, and continued to be right up until Violator.

There's an important creative difference to be made here though... DM, Daniel Miller and Producer Gareth Jones were making their own, new and unheard before sounds and rhythms from 'found sound' sources, and not just artlessly sampling sounds or big chunks like verses and choruses from other peoples music, which is how Sampling has sadly ended up being used for by most of course.

They genuinely were pioneers of Sampled sound at that time, pushing the limits of what was acceptable as 'musical content' in Pop music. Also, very few people used samplers at all due to their expense until '85 or so, and when they did it was usually in quite a naff or trashy way.

Apologies for the 'sermon'(I just couldn't let it lie!) but no offence intended to any of you I promise.

12-Aug-08 11:49 AM

lexis    Said...

I can't believe how many people in these comments are just repeating what is either in the videos or in the timeline or in Sonic's Top Samplers series??? "You can type" Woopee.

12-Aug-08 12:10 PM

the eye    Said...

Although the contents of the video is neat the video itselfs it suffers from too fast cuts and FX overuse so I get 'eye cancer' from watching it. Sorry folks, please consider not to have it that brutal flashy way in future - this is NO pleasure to watch instead a real pain.

16-Aug-08 02:24 AM

Kevin Monahan EMU Systems    Said...

"The first ever use of an actual 'Digital Sample' on a commercial recording was Afrika Bambaataa's Planet Rock in 1982 which uses the Fairlight's famous Orchestra Hit sound 'straight out of the box"

Not true. There are several instances that predate Planet Rock. We used the Emulator to add cash register sounds to Everybody's Broke - Magic Windows 1981. The Residents - Tunes of Two Cities was released in Early 1982 but recorded from 1980 - to January 1982. The Residents were an hours drive from EMU and we supported them though the production of that album. There was also Dirty Laundry - Don Henley with Steve Porcaro on Emulator very early 1982.

14-Mar-12 01:59 PM


That is Herbie Hancock - Everybody's Broke Magic WIndows- 1981

14-Mar-12 02:02 PM

Jonathan    Said...

ALTERNATELY - you could make the argument that the first use of sampling was Pierre Schaefer in what was it? 1948? 1950? in his 'etude aux chemins de fer' - of course he used tape - but the mode and method is pound for pound the same.

06-Jun-15 07:06 AM

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