Friday, July 29, 2011

Faster, Harder, Louder, Stronger...

It's not unusual for modern records to be based around a sample taken from an earlier song. This isn't altogether a bad thing. The original artiste gets a nice royalty and perhaps an unexpected boost to their pension and the new artiste gets a catchy little ditty on which to hang their own tune. It's a collaboration of sorts and the original artiste will usually have the right of veto if they do not approve of their original riff being exploited inappropriately. All good, nothing bad.

Of course sampling is most commonly used in more recent styles of music - techno, house, hip-hop, ambient, rap and the like. These style generally have a quicker tempo than the styles they are borrowing from. The result is invariably that the sample has to be adapted in order to fit the modern style.

When you spot a sample in a modern record you may recognise it but it's often interesting to go back to what is often the rather obscure original and you'll invariably find it's not quite how you remember it. The new artiste will have played around with it - added a backbeat, bumped up the tempo and other digital trickery. There's nothing new or particularly wrong with that either. You might recognise and think you remember the actual riff but on re-hearing the original you'll be surprised how different it actually was at the time.

I was reminded of this when listening to the following tunes. The first clip is from the new song, and the second clip is the original track that was sampled.

The original song stood up on its own quite well at the time but now sounds positively funereal - it actually sounds like it's been slowed down. It sounds wrong. If you go back to the first song you quickly realise that no-one could play the horn section at the speed it's now being reproduced but it sounds right.

Do we do everything so much faster these days? I guess we do. Let's slow it all down a bit.


Terra Shield said...

The modern version sounds better, but that's probably because I never heard the original.

I remember being utterly disgusted some time ago when Toto's Africa was sampled by a (then) relatively new singer. And also when Gwen Stefani sampled the Lonely Goatherd, and I suspect it's because I actually enjoyed the original versions so much before the new ones came up.

nursemyra said...

I like both versions. The first one has a good film clip too

King of Scurf said...

Terra: I used to think sampling was unimaginative and a cheap way of plagiarising other people's work but now I think it's quite respectful...the musical equivalent of doffing your cap to an earlier artiste.

nursemyra: I think the original version sounds like a 45 played at 33....ho ho ho, that comment'll confuse the teenagers out there.