Sampling and Music Composition – A “Fresh” Perspective. Pt 2 – Sampling/Interpolation/Legalities

Photo Credit: Akai MPC 2500 w/black pads by: ficusrock

Greetings crew…

Hope all is well with you. I’ve finally gotten around to Pt 2 of this series. In Part 1, I gave a brief history of sampling and, specifically, the tools used in the early days; and the explosion of sampling in the 80’s and 90’s that was fueled by the music of James Brown. Since then, not only has sampling evolved greatly with the advent of sampling technology, both in hardware and software tools, but it’s also taken on the form of a different kind of sampling – taking a song’s basic arrangement and feel (usually the hook) and creating a new song from it. One example that immediately come to mind in the last decade is Kirk Franklin’ s radio version (remix) of “Stomp”. When this release first hit the airwaves, it was quite noticeable to the listening public that the song’s groove was reminiscent of a very popular song by Funkadelic, namely “One Nation Under A Groove”. The interpolation comes into play as the tempo of “One Nation Under A Groove” (the verse section) was slowed down and the bass track was extracted for the main groove for “Stomp”. shows a side by side comparison of the two. In this particular case, Kirk took the obtained permission and provided reference and credit to Funkadelic in the liner notes of his release. Before, during, and since then, there have been many instances were permission was not granted, resulting in copyright infringement lawsuits. While I’d venture to guess hip-hop holds the record for the highest count of sampling lawsuits, especially with the landmark case involving Biz Markie’s “I Need A Haircut” sampling of Gilbert Sullivan’s “Alone Again Naturally”, Kid AdRock of The Beastie Boys claims they hold the first sample lawsuit.

The laws of copyright infringement in cases like those above span far and wide and, to many, are still open to interpretation. I came across an interesting article (I’m sure there are many more out there) written by an artist on Twitter named Sean Grey. His article Thinking Out Loud: How to Legally Sample Songs For Free, provides some interesting questions for consideration, as well as feedback from other readers. While it’s not my intention to delve into the legalities of sampling in this post, it’s an area with depth that continues to be revisited time and time again. One of many good resources on this subject is here. Disc Makers also recently posted a good article entitled Sampling Safely – A Primer to Avoiding Lawsuits.

As the late 80’s progressed into the 90’s, Sean “Puff Daddy (bka Diddy)” Combs took arranging and composing based on sampling a step further and actually obtained permission to use the actual masters (not samples or interpolations) of songs to compose songs for releases under his artists Junior Mafia, Biggee Smalls, Little, Kim, Lil Cease, Faith Evans, etc. Popular hip hop songs were produced that used actual hooks from Diana Ross’s “I’m Coming Out”, Herb Alpert’s “Rise”, The Police’s “Every Step You Take”, even Jeff Lorber’s classic fusion track “Rain Song”. You may be able to associated each song above with the hit Diddy produced.

This type of new song arranging and composing hit it very big, and still continues to do so, with the likes of Kirk Franklin using the hook to Patrice Rushen’s “Haven’t You Heard” for his 2005 hit “Looking For You”.

The topic matter in this particular post is nothing new. The question I have is, as of late, is there any merit to what I call “gross sampling” (using the actual song itself, (in the case of what Diddy and Kirk have done)? I would submit that there is some skill level, maybe some would say an art, to composing new (and I use the term loosely) songs. What, if any, are your thoughts? As an artist, songwriter, composer, and producer, I have my own but will reserve them until I finish this series.

In Part 3, I’ll give my perspective on sampling, sample packs, the tons of vendors that make them, the use of them in music composition, and related issues.

::: oceans of rhythm :::


Welcome To The Sunday Soundtrack – 19 Sep 10

Morning Sky
“Morning Sky”- Photo Credit: Hey Kim! 2010

Good day listeners…

Welcome to another edition of The Sunday Soundtrack. I hope your week was (or is) going well. Here we are half way through September and I have to ask the all to well known question: “Where has the time gone?” That question is rhetorical as I think our answers are all pretty similar. In any event, without time passing, I’d never reach this point of bringing you yet another podcast. Amidst the excitement of an oncoming start to the NBA season and football season underway, I hope you incorporate this musical into the time you find to chill.

I’ve been doing some trackhunting over the past week and have discovered a new way of getting new music for the podcast which is pretty exciting. With that, ahead of you is an hour of all brand new tracks that I hope you enjoy. Among the tracks are two from San Francisco based DJ and producer, Kaskade, and two from sought after and finally found artist, Lazybatusu. I’ve featured tracks from Kaskade on the podcast before, but Lazybatusu has been elusive in obtaining via my usual haunts…until I discovered my new source. I really like the flow of Lazybatusu and will be featuring more of their tracks in future SSPs. Their track “8am” I’ve heard numerous times on’s Groove Salad and SiriusXM’s Chill, two long time sources of the tracks you hear in the podcast. I hope you enjoy it as well as I do.

In the coming months I hope to be showcasing some more of my own smooth electronica here as well. Stay tuned. With that, let’s tune into this week’s playlist:

1. Tonite f/Amy Michelle – Kaskade/Om Lounge
2. Close – Kaskade/OM Lounge 8
3. R-Evolution – Lazybatusu/Cafe Solaire Vol. 2
4. Mellow – Seductive Souls/Cafe Solaire Vol. 14
5. Can U Feel It? – Marc Antoine/Rendezvous Lounge 2
6. Get It On – Spacefish/Global Psychedelic Chill Out – Compilation Vol. 4
7. 8am – Lazybatusu/Cafe Solaire Vol. 14
8. Nkechi – Konferenz/Kontakt
9. Bay Of Hope – Planet Lounge/Grill Out
10. The Story Of Us – Chevalier

Thought I’d shoot a short video of where The Sunday Soundtrack podcast is created. Insight is always valuable. Thanks to my brother-in-podcasting, DarrenKeith over at My Love For Music for the idea. He’s done an on-location video of where he shot his podcast recently.

Thanks for listening, always appreciated, and a special shout to my entire podcasting massive, especially for the drops. Time for me to send new ones out to you as well.

To download the podcast, just right-click on the “Download” link and save it to your hard drive.

::: oceans of rhythm :::


Sampling and Music Composition- A “Fresh” Perspective. Pt. 1: In The Beginning

Akai MPC 2000 Photo Credit: Dan Medhurst

Welcome readers.

I hope this post finds you well. The topic of this post is something I’ve been meaning to write about for quite some time. Sampling has been a long time tool and methodology of music composition. I’m almost certain everyone reading this post is familiar, in some form or fashion, how sampling has found it’s way into modern day music creation.

While there are MANY articles and multimedia on this subject I’ll give a little background as a foundation to the reason why I’m writing this post – my own perspective on sampling: where it came from and and where it is today and some of my own opinion as a musician, songwriter, and producer. It’s not my intent to write about the chronological history of sampling (though I begin by citing its early days), but to talk about how I use and the reasons why, as I compose my own music. To give added perspective from others, I’ve also got a short interview with an artist on Twitter that uses sampling in her compositions, as well as an excerpt from an podcast I recorded, interviewing another artist on Twitter who is a sampled-based composer. You can check these out in future parts to this blog post.

Without going too far back to the first non-commercially available samplers, such as the Computer Music Melodian or EMS MUSYS, the first commercially available samplers actually came on the scene as the second wave of samplers. These are the more recognizable machines such as New England Digital’s Synclavier (’75), the Fairlight CMI (’79), and the Synclavier II (’80), While these samplers were to be found on many album liner credits, they cost in excess of $25,000 and obviously were only in reach of the top music superstars.

By the mid-80’s, the advent of sampling technology allowed for less expensive machines which were also smaller. Popular models of this era included the keyboard based Ensoniq Mirage and it’s rack version, the Mirage Rack, the Akai S612 (which used the least popular 2.8″ QuickDisks (same as some typewriters used), the Sequential Prophet 2000, the Akai S950, the Yamaha TX16W, and Roland S-550. These units boasted 12-bit sample resolution. You can hear the Mirage sampler usage all over Janet Jackson’s “Control” album, for example, the digital horn blasts on the hit “When I Think Of You”. I owned both the Yamaha TX16W and Roland S-550 samplers and participated in the Roland S-Group Sampler forum. Though the forum is pretty much non-existent these days, I still have a set of samples I uploaded to their archives in the late 90’s (ahh the good old days!). My primary use of the S-550 was to use snippets of samples I’ve created (mainly in the hip hop and dance genres) for use in my own compositions. Strangely enough, I never did any live sampling via a unit’s mic input, but instead used various Mac audio editing apps to convert audio to S-550 format.

It’s a well known fact that by the late 80’s, the E-mu SP1200 became the premier choice of samplers for commercial and indie hip-hop producers worldwide. Introduced in 1987, The grimy 12-bit sampling resolution and 10 second maximum sample time proved to have it’s limitations but despite that, it became the hallmark, signature sound of old-school hip-hop and house music. The SP-1200 was SO popular that it got reissued and manufactured through 1997. All the major hip-hop producers out of NYC, from Lord Finesse to Marley Marl to Pete Rock used the SP-1200 has their weapon of choice. Below is indie beat maker Surock showcasing a track done on the SP-1200.

In 1988, Roger Linn (known for the famous Linn Drum (think Prince tracks from Purple Rain), created partnership with Japanese corporation Akai and created what is probably singlehandedly known as the greatest machine made for creating hip-hop music: The Akai MPC Music Production center. Scores of hip-hop legends from DJ Premier to Pete Rock dominated this machine and made it the center of hip hop production. The MPC-60 began a long heritage of MPCs such as 2000, 2000xl, 3000, 2500, 1000, 4000, 5000, 1000 and 500. The MPC is known for its TIGHT timing and swing that is a staple of 90’s hip hop, still incorporating, as a 12-bit sampler, that grimy sound both associated with and loved in, hip hop. Here is a history of the MPC in video format:

Here is indie producer Disko Dave of The Better Beat Bureau on the MPC 2000 showing any of its capabilities in making a track (“beat”).

As a songwriter, musician, and composer, I grew up playing in R&B bands as a teenager. The drum machine found it’s way into my composition tool box way before an actual computer did. By this time, the same vendors that manufactured hardware samplers, also manufactured drum machines that had internal sounds based on PCM samples of various drum kits. I became, like many, accustomed to programming drum tracks on these machines which have pads just like the MPC. As my studio grew, it wasn’t until about two years ago that I finally got around to incorporating a MPC 1000 into my setup. What I enjoy about using the MPC is not only the availability to load and edit samples for tracks, but I much more enjoy programming drum tracks with pads via using a keyboard.

With the availability of the sampler in mainstream music production, it exploded in the area of hip-hop, with artists “crate diggin” for the most obscure tracks on vinyl to create the next banger. It turns out that the most sought after, used (and frankly exploited) tracks came from one artist, the hardest working man in show business: James Brown. To get an idea of just how much of his music was sampled in hip-hop (and beyond) check this link out. While the use of JB’s music greater exposed him to even music fans (young and old), there’s always been the issue of legality in sampling his tracks and tracks of the artists he produced. I’ll touch on legality issues in a subsequent part of this post. Suffice it say, I’ve heard some of the most ingenious and creative results of sampling Mr. Brown over time, some being the hottest tracks ever created. There is no question that James Brown and his music provided the fuel to propel hip-hop forward in many ways. Once again, barring the legal issues, the skill and creativity of hip-hop producers in the sampling of JB’s tracks, paid him great homage (and still do).

That’s it for now. In Part 2, I’ll give my thoughts on sampling vs interpolation and touch briefly (as if it hasn’t been touched on enough), the legalities of sampling.

Til then, peace…


Sampling Tips From The Pros

Samples everywhere, User made, professionally sold. I feel a big blog post coming on. A few more sections of research to do. In the mean time, check out this article from Music Radar.

Me, I’m going back to the music production computer next to me…I just loaded some samples into Logic’s EXS24

::: oceans of rhythm :::


What’s Happening – Current Music Projects

What’s up everyone?

Hope all is well with u. Sitting in The Lab this rainy Sunday evening, thinking about the various projects I’m working on, and testing out a new WP plugin called Twitter Tools (which will hopefully work to auto-post this, since Bird Feeder was not updated to work with Twitter’s recent OAuth configuration).

  • AfterSix Productions: We’re close, very close after *years* of working on this project. Currently looking at a new male vocalist to complete this duet I wrote, then it’s off to mixing and prepping tracks for final master. The next three months are pretty much laid out in our project file. The website is 99% done and looks good. Just need to make final decisions on the mastering facility, distribution, etc.
  • contempojazzsoulhop: Cross Country Collective. This is the genius of Fave and The Big La. The single “Give To Ya” has been released and well received in the US and abroad. Head nod to both these prolific musicians for allowing me in on this project…stay tuned.
  • SFTF: Yep, your man…this is my project, various original tracks and songs I’ve been working on, as well as remix projects I’ve been done and will continue to do.
  • The Nikki Ruth Project: This is the brainchild of another prolific songwriter and producer, Ms Tina E. Clark. Very versed in the music business, she has the Midas Touch with everything she lays her hands on. I’ve been asked to participate on this project and she’s released the first track entitled “Pearl” available on iTunes.
  • Sphere of Influence: Smooth jazz keyboardist and long time friend, Tim Watson is working on a new release. I had the good fortune of providing the guitar tracks for the title track of this very hot CD. Always a pleasure working with Tim, a musician with a heart of gold.
  • Various remix projects: The latest I’ve done was a remix for “The Most Impossible Plan”, from The Skatterbrain EP, The Basic Condition Of Life. Headnod to Dan Weatherall for allowing the Twitter community to take part in his latest EP. One thing I’d love to become is a great remixer. Luckily there are plenty contests and projects out there on a regular basis.
  • I’ve got a new personal project that I plan to launch in 2011. Domain is registered, host in place. Stay tuned.

    That’s it for now. Enjoy the evening.

    ::: oceans of rhythm :::


    PS: Big thanks to Gadget Girl for helping me to get Twitter Tools to work.

    Welcome to The Sunday Soundtrack – 12 Sep 10 (recast – 08 Mar 09)

    Photo Credit: DVS, Jr.

    Greetings listeners…

    I trust this post finds you well. I was chatting with fellow podcaster (as we usually do during the week) Darrenkeith about the abundance of new tracks I had gathered throught the week from YouTube. Needless to say I collected enough tracks for two podcasts. After converting the video to audio tracks only, I put them in a folder for later moving to my iTunes library. I also was in the midst of organizing my hard drive folders and external drive contents, trashing a lot of files I didn’t need. Well guess what got trashed accidentally? Nuff said. Fortunately, all the videos I used for the audio are saved to My Favorites in YouTube….I’m just too tired to reconvert them to audio for a new podcast tomorrow, hence the recast. I’ll lean on the reasoning of presenting previous tracks to newer listeners and favorite tracks to older ones….hows that?Tomorrow, it’s back to the conversions.

    That being said, I bring you the playlist:

    1. afterthewoman – rdm
    2. Alternate Thursday – Platonic/Sound In Color/Mu.sic – Pixelated Pulse
    3. Second Cup Of Coffee – Big La vs. Todd/Blue… Kinda Grey
    4. Argha Noah – Nightmares On Wax/Carboot Soul
    5. Bay of Islands – Blackfish/Pole Navigation
    6. Bizarre Love Pentangle – Muzz/Sty Wars
    7. Breather 2000 (Arithunda Mix) – Afterlife/The St. Regis Chill & Groove
    8. Gaze – Sweetback/Sweetback
    9. The Glass Bead Game – Thievery Corporation/Ultra Chilled
    10. If You Don’t Love Me, Understand Me – Vision
    11. Woman’s Mood – Lady Tha ProducHer

    For the visual, Kaskade, world renowned DJ and dance music producer out of San Francisco, brings us one of his more mellower and very chilled tracks, “Right Dream”.

    That’s it…It’s my wish that u enjoy this podcast, it’s always a pleasure to bring it. Be sure to check out my fellow podcast massive in my blogroll. I’m certain you will enjoy what they have to offer.

    Using Twitter? Feel free to follow The Sunday Soundtrack

    Welcome To The Sunday Soundtrack – 5 Sep 10

    Photo Credit: A.K., 2010

    Hello listeners.

    Hope this post finds you well. The Labor Day weekend, for those of us in the U.S., is upon us. I, for one, am glad that I’m able to get an extra day to chill out before returning back to the office. In that spirit of relaxedness (is that a word?), I bring you the playlist and flow for this podcast.

    I just returned this afternoon, from a wedding in N. Carolina that was quite nice. The weather held up perfectly for an outdoor matrimonial event, and the reception was VERY nice as well. I wish the happy couple (whom I’ve known for some time) a long and love-filled marriage.

    Today’s track span the genres of nu-jazz, latin-flavored, downtempo, and chillout, with a bit of ambient mixed in. It’s my hope you enjoy it. This edition includes the lead off track, Reel Life by The Cinematic Orchestra (The Evolution II remix). I especially enjoy this track for it’s orchestral elements and the way it invokes visuals of movement via it’s musical composition. After noticing a tweet earlier this week from Honeysugarwater, mentioning Bebel Gilberto’s original tune “Aganju”, I decided to feature the remix this time around. The apex of the podcast brings Ocean Air by dZihan and Kamien. I first heard of them not on the net or elsewhere, but via a musician, songwriter, and producer who lives not too far from me. I was hanging out in his studio, listening to some tracks he had in his “vault” and we got onto the subject of downtempo and chillout. He had asked if I had heard of them and played a track by the name of which I can’t recall, but after hearing it, I was on a hunt to find everything I could by them. They’ve been featured on many Sunday Soundtrack editions since ’07. Rounding out this edition is a very laidback track by a group entitled Bliss. I discovered them on another website when track hunting last year. They often hinge on ambient compositions, but I happened to like most of what I’ve heard thus far. It’s my wish that you do as well. Without further adieu, I present to you the playlist.

    1. Reel Life (Evolution II) – The Cinematic Orchestra/Man With a Movie Camera
    2. Instrumentally Yours – Ben Tankard/Instrumentally Yours
    3. Aganju (Remix) – Bebel Gilberto/Bring Back The Love (The Remixes)
    4. Moment Of Truths (The Morning After) – Big La vs. Todd/Water… Under The Bridge
    5. Ocean Air – dZihan & Kamien/Freaks & Icons
    6. As Possible (feat. Baschin) – Chris Zippel/Genuine Horizon
    7. Life and How to Do It – All India Radio/Permanent Evolutions
    8. Kukuma Bazar – Jens Buchert/Café de la Mer
    9. Curiosity – Amba/Amba
    10. Song for Olabi – Bliss/Quiet Letters

    “Ocean Air” – dZihan & Kamien/Freaks and Icons

    All the tracks featured in this edition can be found via Amazon, iTunes, and the various sources offered by For those of you on Twitter, feel free to follow The Sunday Soundtrack. I’d appreciate it.

    Enjoy all your chilled out moments…

    ::: oceans of rhythm :::


    The Most Impossible Plan (groove7 outerbanks edit rmx)/The Basic Condition of Life – Skatterbrain

    Greetings crew.

    Hope all is well. A lot of you here heard me profess my love for Twitter, and for those of you who haven’t, here it goes: I love Twitter for its easy of networking and especially information push to me about things I’m most interested in. Via an actual person or a website, if it allows me to grow in areas of learning on topics that greatly interest me (various areas of tech and music production), than I’m with it. The *push* aspect is of most interest. In any event, a few weeks ago, one of my followers let his followers know that he was about to drop a release and offered the chance for other artists to remix certain songs on the release for its remix EP and a list of singles. Being as though I aspire to ALSO become a great remixer, I try to jump at the chance to remix songs when I can. This particular genre is electronica/synthpop/DnB/etc with BPM (beats per minute) faster than I usually choose to compose in. I thought, “What better way to expand my musical horizons and skills”. The EP, remix EP, and singles list has been release and I’m proud to say that my remix was chosen for the singles list. This is the first single from the new SKatterBrain album “the Basic Condition Of Life“. The artist is @dan303 (Dan Weatherall of Stoke-On-Trent, England)

    This remix project was different than the first official remix project I did for Philip Clark, in that I knew what the original song sounded like, typical of remixes that are released AFTER the original song is out. Instead, Dan offered just the remix stems, so I had NO idea what his composition was like. That provided me with an open palette to create from. All he provided to us was the BPM (145) and key (Dm).

    My DAW (digital audio workstation of choice) is Logic Studio. (Logic 8). I unfortunately had limited time to complete the remix because it was smack in the middle of vacation time – which meant out of the studio (if I had my Mac with me, that would have been another story ).

    In the limited amount of time I had, I chose to explore the loop library in Logic versus programming my own drums from scratch or even chopping up samples to do so. My original plan was to time stretch the samples, but couldn’t remember how to until the 11th hour. Since I’ve grown to be a fan of drum and bass, and already a fan of 2-step, it didn’t take long to find a drum loop that was a mix of both and fit the stems perfectly. Dan used a number of percussive spatial synth effects that give good stereo dynamics, so those stems were added next. Listening to the drum loop, I played a percussive bass synth to lock with parts of the kick drum and counter the analog synth bass stem he sent as one of the stems. He suggested we use as many of the stems as we could, but I decided to create another synth lead part using Logic’s ES-M synth to sub for the one he sent. In the beginning of the remix, you’ll hear a four note section of electric piano, that I mirrored with a synth line created with Logic’s ES-1 synth. The synth pads I play under the ES-M lead are Logic’s “Chilled EP” pad.

    Anyway, here’s the track listing:

    1. The Most Impossible Plan 04:31
    2. The Most impossible Plan [303 edit] 03:03
    3. The Most Impossible Plan (groove7 outerbanks edit rmx) 03:38
    4. the basic condition of life (ne7’s daijo mix) 05:14
    5. Balance of sanity 04:41

    Dan’s bandcamp page has links to all the releases.
    The EP page is here .
    The remix EP page is here .
    The singles page is here.

    My remix can be dowloaded here .

    Much thanks to Dan for giving me the opportunity.

    Thanks for the read….on to the next remix project.