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June 04, 2008



I love the Amen break.


amen to that


seriously though, interesting history lesson, though i think he left out the many covers or 'inspired' breaks. the Powerpuff girls action theme comes to mind.


NPR ran a lengthy segment on the Amen break a couple of years back. Wish I could find it.


I got a comment by a guy name of R.L. Spencer what says he owns the copyright on the song, and neither he nor the drummer saw a penny from it.
Some math fella also says the break fits the golden ratio.


Yeah, this film has been on the interwebs for a few years now (in fact, I thought I originally found it through the FMU blog. . . ?)

I can't decide what is the most interesting part of this-- the fact that some UK company claims copyright on a 6 second sample (and the original performers don't contest it), or that an entire style of music was based on one 6 second sample.

Interestingly, on the Ultimate Breaks and Beats series of DJ bootlegs that appeared in NYC in the mid 80's (and fertilized the already fertile hip-hop scene), "Amen Brother" is presented at it's regular speed, UNTIL the break, at which point they pitched it down from 45 to 33.3, as hip hoppers preferred the slower tempo (used at this tempo for NWA's "Straight Outta Compton" and even the TV theme for Futurama.) Beware of the Blog should do a piece on the Ultimate Breaks and Beats series-- there's an interesting story along the same lines as the "Amen break.".


It occurs to me that if this sample had made it into the general consciousness without any reference to the original source (for example if it was just a digital file of the drum break alone that changed hands by dubbing the files, from one sampler to another, or as a download with no attribution), then the original copyright holder might never have known. It WAS after all, just a 6-second break on a fairly obscure 45 b-side. Even that drummer might not have ever recognized it, even if he heard the loop in a TV commercial.

I actually found a cdr in the trash of a local drummer practicing, and he's pretty funky-- if I sample it and use it and make a top-40 hit, it is highly probably that he would never know.


I was recently reading about Orch5, a similarly iconic snippet, taken from a recording of Stravinsky's Firebird in 1979 as a demo sample on the Fairlight (the first commercial sampling synthesizer). It became popularly known as "Orchestra Hit" and turned up on everything from Planet Rock by Afrika Bambaataa, to Kate Bush, to cheap home keyboards. The guy who created the sample was David Vorhaus, who you might know from his work with Delia Derbyshire in the early electronic pop group the White Noise. It's one of the most famous (and overused) samples ever, ranking alongside the Amen Break and the Wilhelm Scream. Anyone think of any more of this stature?


I actually always notice it when music uses this.
I'm a big Powerpuff Girls fan, you see. It's nice to get a bit of history.

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