The act of sampling in music is a true art form, which has been the catalyst for many different genres of music. Sampling provides infinite ways for you to express your musical creativity, as samples can be sped-up, slowed-down, distorted, and used in genres that you couldn’t even imagine. In fact, sampling is a great way for budding musicians to start making music; there is no need to be able to play an instrument, all you need is limitless levels of creativity and you’re good to go.
It is widely believed that hip-hop kick-started sampling in the early 80s; however the use of sampling can be dated back as early as the 60s. For example, in 1967, The Beatles sampled an extract from the French national anthem, La Marseillaise, for All You Need is Love.
Some artists have established an incredibly prosperous career from sampling, such as DJ Shadow, Girl Talk and Kanye West. In contrast, other artists have used samples much more inconspicuously to great effect, including Daft Punk, Burial and Four Tet.
We thought it would be interesting to give you a rundown of the top five songs that have brilliantly harnessed the use of a sample; some of these samples you will realise, others you won’t. One thing’s for sure, your musical horizons are bound to be widened.
Sample used – Christian Vander – “Baba Yaga La Sorciere”
The main reason for Ricardo Villalobos is successful is because he uses samples from songs that nobody else dares to use, which helps to make incredibly distinctive music. This particular effort uses a sample from a French kid’s song that was made by a little-known progressive rock musician named Christian Vander. However, Villalobos completely flips the sample on its head to turn it into an incredible piece of hypnotic house music.
Artist – Daft Punk – ‘Aerodynamic’
Sample used – Sister Sledge – ‘Ill Macquillage Lady’
Many artists have stated that Daft Punk are solely responsible for changing the way they viewed music. Daft Punk have been credited with raising the bar for dance music production, and Aerodynamic is no exception. The use of Sister Sledge in this song is almost unrecognisable, but the fact that Daft Punk manage to create an infectious beat by intricately combining church bells and a guitar solo, makes them even more legendary.
Artist – Radiohead – ‘Idioteque’
Sample used – Paul Lansky – ‘Mild Und Leise’
Paul Lansky is regarded as one of the pioneers of early electronic music; he is also known for making music that takes his listeners on an obscure journey. However, Radiohead managed to dig through all of the obscurity on Mild Und Leise and extract one of the most harmonic loop samples that I have ever heard. This is even more surprising given the fact that Radiohead have hardly ever used samples in their extensive back catalogue, but when they did they made it count!
Artist – Burial – ‘Archangel’
Sample used – Ray J – ‘One Wish’
Burial is singlehandedly responsible for taking the genre of dubstep in a completely different direction to what we all hear on the radio today. His underground success comes from the way he is able to cut up vocal samples and take them to the next level. Burial has the innate ability to spot a sample where no-one else would ever notice it; he then extracts and distorts it to make the most beautiful sounds. One such example is the way that Burial uses the original Ray J vocal; he has taken something that can only be described as R&B, and turned it into something that is evocative of a dark, gloomy, and atmospheric journey through London’s underground landscape.
Sample used – Luiz Bonfá – “Seville”
Yes, that’s right! One of the most popular songs of the last 12 months actually samples a little-known Brazilian guitarist named Luiz Bonfá. All it took for Gotye to create one of the biggest pop songs of our time was to sample the first bar of Seville; from this point, Gotye wrote his own lyrics and music to go over that one sample. This sample is special because sampling has traditionally been used in hip-hop, R&B, and dance, but Gotye has used sampling to create something that took the pop charts by storm.
If this article has got your creative juices flowing, and you would like to start making your own music (samples optional), it is incredibly difficult to break into the music industry. Fear not however, because there are multitudes of royalty free music sites, such as Beat Suite, who are always keeping their eyes and ears open for new talent. This would provide you with a fantastic way of getting your music noticed, as much of the music used in the production and media industry is taken from royalty free music sites.