June 18, 2008

A YouTube Meditation On The Amen Break

Originally played by "GC" Coleman and recorded as a 6 second drum fill on Amen Brother, the B-side of a Grammy-winning 1969 single by the Winstons, the so-called Amen Break is the most sampled piece of music ever; popping up frequently on hip hop tracks and forming the rhythmic basis of jungle and drum-n-bass.

In the process of becoming an almost ubiquitous "breakbeat toolkit", the Amen Break has inevitably found its way into musings on the "ownership" of creativity in our remix culture. (What makes it particularly pertinent in such discussions is the fact that a sample CD distributor of "drum-n-bass kits" in the early noughties was treating it as virtual public domain and claiming copyright over their re-recordings of it, without supposedly passing a cent on to the Winstons.)

In the video at the top of this post, artist and writer Nate Harrison takes us on a fascinating excursion into the many uses (and abuses) of the Amen Break (including the aforementioned piece of copyright bastardry).

And he's not the only one to be inspired to it - mathematician Michael Schneider has also pondered the ubiquity of the Amen Break and decided that it's all down to the Golden Ratio. (via WFMU)

Posted by Warren at June 18, 2008 12:22 AM | Videos