Pop Muzik - how did sampling technology 
affected contemporary popular muzik

- thoughts and associations related to the matter, 
not comprehensive, nor high art in any way, 
just to raise some questions and thoughts -

(transciption from XCHANGE2, Riga, 1997)

   In the age of Mozart he has written and played progressive 
contemporary popular music. That's surely true. He used 
instruments, melodies and rhythms to express his feelings. 
This is what we could call 'music' in a traditional sense. 
What is 'music' now? Scepticists say that Mozart has done 
everything with that 12 notes that could be done. So what 
else left for the eagerly waving pop-hunger crowd? Same old 
shite? Perhaps you could say 'yes', but if you take a closer 
look at the new archetypical circus you can see that the 
concept has changed a lot.
   The first common used electronic instruments were mostly 
keyboard based ones and 'pop' musicians could use these 
as smaller, more practical virtual models of the original. 
Ray Manzarek of Doors and Emerson of Emerson, Lake and Palmer 
could be mentioned as the wizards of the electronic organs 
and the first synthesizers those were manufactured by Dr. Moog. 
This modelling scheme was the basic idea for the mentioned 
Moogs: remodell an existing sound of an existing instrument 
by using electronic devices, construct real sounds from 
a constant flow of electrons. The first machine that has any 
common to a 'sampler' was the Mellotron. This instrument 
looked like a keyboard with each key has a short dedicated 
magnetic tape. You could record sound events to each tape 
- you could 'sample' - and later play it back with the pressing 
of the key. Of course the quality, the liability and 
the effectiveness of this thingy could not be changed to 
the contemporary used digital ones and truly they were very 
expensive. Even the first generation of digital smaplers 
made by Fairlight and EMU Systems costed a lot and just 
state-of-art studios could buy them at the time of their 
manufacture. Such experimental artists like Brian Eno 
made the most relevant works not really with this technology,
but with this way of thinking, as they made a soundscape 
from bits, events and layers of sound, not a real composition 
with a strictly used term 'melody' or 'rhythm', but a texture 
that of course had some way of flowing. From these early works 
from the seventies - such as 'Music for Airports' - the so-called 
'ambient' style has been born. (This term is commonly used in 
contemporary dance music.)
   Returning to the pop, the first hit which was based on this 
technology and idea of music was Paul Hardcastle's 'Nineteen' 
in 1983. The number of sample and sampler users started to 
grow, but the next quality change was done by the hands of 
Jonathan Moore and Matt Black, the Coldcut duo. The sampling 
pioneer pop producer team has started the carrier of Lisa 
Stansfield, Yazz and many more. Their 1987 released 'What's 
That Noise' made their fame to became the world's first real 
remixing artists. Furthermore they have founded Ninja Tune 
Records and Hex experimental multimedia firm. The real 
groundbreaking song was M*A*R*R*S' 'Pump Up The Volume' in the 
same year - evidentally with some Coldcut sample. The cause 
of the importance were: 1. this was the first pop house tune, 
2. this song was made only of samples, no instruments, nothing 
new and additional material has been recorded during the making 
process. Surprisinly or not, at this time not so many people 
has realised the importance and the possibilities of this musical 
concept, but after 'The Manual' almost everything has been 
explained and done. The two of Jim Cauty and Bill Drummond have 
decided to form a pop group and make a hit a month. They did it 
and documented it in the previously mentioned book. The band 
was the JAMS (Justified and Ancient of Mumu) and the song was 
'Doctorin' the Tardis'. Sampling Gary Glitter and the Doctor Who 
series they provided an easy step-by-step guide to contemporary 
pop music, giving every one a chance to score a number one hit 
in just a month. Their first common known album, 'The White Room' 
released under the pseudonim KLF (Kopyright Liberation Foundation) 
was entirely done with one sampler, one synthesizer and 
one guitar. This album included the single 'What Time Is Love' 
that made a Guiness record with its almost 700 different remixes 
available. They have been the most controversive pop band ever 
with their appearance on Top Of The Pops (premiere English pop music 
TV programme) with the Extreme Noise Terror and that infamous 
British Awards version of 'What Time Is Love' in noisemetal. 
Publishing whole page ads in Guardian and high art magazines 
questioning the 'art'. (Their truly weird story and concepts would need
lot more space and time than I have, so take a look at them by yourself,
it do worth it.) The latest pop phenomenon I would like 
to mention in the sampling business is the Utah Saints. No, it's not 
a football team, but two youngsters who provided us a very ambivalent 
way using of pop an unfamiliar artistic samples, their songs could 
contain Slayer, Eurythmics and Kate Bush samples at the same time 
bringing together an excellent and organic sound.
   Now let's get back to my generation. We can put all buzzwords in 
one bowl: industrial revolution, information revolution, desktop 
revolution, revolution revolution. Ok, solid, we all know this, 
we all have lived this personally, so how can we get in focus in 
this whole stuph. If you all mix up these previous buzzwords 
the sum will be something avout reproducing and replacing the 
natural, the original by human inventions, making the convergence 
better and better, smoothing the human boundaries' analogue and 
digital approximative errors. Really I'm not interested in those 
pioneering artists and talents who revealed the hidden secrets 
and treasure of sampling technology in the ancient mist of the 
Seventies. Truly I've one of the boys who didn't really bothered 
the ADSR synthesizer of the good old Commodore 64, because we 
considered melodic music as a thing of past and in a silly bipolar 
way it could have been either cheesy easy listening pop or 
unlistenable Bartók-like mathematically designed soundsculpture. 
Sorry we were not curious about neither of them. But receiving 
the Commodore Amigas the most obvious way of using them was to use 
them as a sampler tool. Basically an Amiga could be considered 
as a 4 note polyphonic 8 bit sampler with 512 kilobytes memory. 
That time this machine was huge! Using samples as tuned instruments, 
using them as 'noise' or manipulating them - we thought that we had 
been born to do this. Okay, we missed the real time feature, but 
don't forget the fact, that the high end real time algoryhtms had 
been developed and optimised by these demo groups - I've come from 
one of them -, so the last buzzword, the desktop revolution was 
done by these people - or could I say _us_.
   Our generation was the first one growing up _in_ an information 
overflow, that's why we are into sampling, perhaps. I could cite 
Gibson short stories, but let that be enough if I say holistic 
world view. I'm just trying to sample the world, I ain't try to 
synthesize any part of it, I'm just stealing the interesting pieces 
and put them together. I think that some of the Kraftwerk had 
mentioned the realm of the ultimate German kid with a synthesizer 
and a sampler, who's coming home from the school builds his own song 
from his favourites, chopping bits and pieces, taking the bass from 
here and the chorus from there. Considering the availability of free 
multitracker sample oriented music editor softwares (the so-called 
'trackers', FastTracker for instance) and the cheap PCs plus the 
soundcards anyone can join the new 'folk' music movement. This new 
concept of pop music gives back the music in the hand of the common 
people, I only can think about it as a new pseudo folkmusic. 
We've left specially prepared sample discs behind, we have online 
sample stores, free archives, the most successful acid jazz act, 
the US3 scored their hits with a free entrance to the Blue Note 
Records jazz archives - they could use any sample they'd found. 
World music goes to mainstream with sampling and Deep Forest. 
The ex-Depeche Mode icon, Alan Wilder stated that he made his last 
album home with one PC and a CuBase Virtual Studio. If you look 
around carefully on the net, you can bounce into illegal software 
archives providing you the latest high tech programmes, filters, 
workstation. These softwares like Sonic Foundry's Soundforge 
or Steinberg's Wavelab provides 24 bit oversampled quality and so 
tough and heavy digital processing features that could only be 
compared to a Russian military ICE-cracker.
   Straight consequence of the sampling fair is the remixing industry with
its saints and sinners. Pet Shop Boys' 'DJ Culture' has known 
something for years... Look at that Brooklyn kid, DJing since 1984 
whose name is simply Todd Terry. This freak of remixing has done 
the EBTG effect. The Everything But The Girl has been an average 
post wave intellipop duo, playing the same music for almost 
10 years with some not relevant Top 40 hits, then came this Todd 
guy, remixed their single 'Missing', and it has sold in 3 million 
copies worldwide, overselling their all previous records. Fast 
enough it was a hip to have a 'Todd Terry' or a 'Tee's Freeze' remix 
on singles, so the price of this work has gone too high, the act 
called Freakpower denied to have a Todd Terry remix as it has costed 
20.000 pounds in 1996. If you add to this that Todd Terry is using 
the _same_ groove - I'm just calling it the 'One Groove' like the 
'One Ring' from the Lord of the Rings - for 3 years, and he rips off 
everyone a lot of money for putting that 4 seconds in, it's crazy. 
There's only one more crazy thing around: it works. Todd Terry 
remixes do work! They sell records! The other one who's 'doing jobz 
for da mob' is Mr. Armand Van Helden. He's from Boston, he's been 
DJing since 15, his Tori Amos remix made his worldwide success, 
as a musician he has just two samplers and he's making a remix for 
60.000 dollars. Only one groove, some basslines, last time for the 
Rolling Stones 'Anyvbody Seen My Baby'. The song is not the melody, 
nor the rhythm, but the sample. (I'm just waiting for the ultimate
sample-videoclip, as the Emergency Broadcast Network and Coldcut's
Hex done some very nice experimental works in the field.)
   Okay, let's put and end to this mutating association line. 
You can decide! If you're passive, take some time, let them render 
your sociogramme and provide you the ultimate idoru, the non plus ultra of
your desires who will sing you the Song of Your Inner Desires. By myself I
think I choose the other option that has 
sterted somewhere on Axl Rose's T-Shirt in a Guns'n Roses videoclip: 
'Kill Your Idols'. If you feel real enough, join the new folkateers. 
Grow your own! E-mail us, we give you tools if you need some. 
Only one thing can stop us: a new Recording Act from the States 
or the just recently signed - poor Clinton - Act against digital 
thievery. I'm not really scared about it, if David Bowie could 
release 'Telling Lies' in MP3 for full free, then 'the brothers gonna work
it out.'

(cj.b2men at http://www.c3.hu/~b2men/pop/pop.htm)


Look for The Pool project.

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