The voice of the student body

The Dial

The voice of the student body

The Dial

The voice of the student body

The Dial

What Song is That?: The Popularity of Music Sampling

Credit: Olivia Houck
Junior India Davis-Hanessian loves listening to a playlist titled, “Songs and Their Samples” that has both original songs, and the songs that they’ve sampled. With thousands of likes, this playlist is “all-encompassing” for all things music.

There have been many awkward moments where adults and teens bond over similar music, with the same chords, instrumentals, and lyrics; but then later realize they are talking about two different songs. This refers to the popular concept known as music sampling. Music sampling is the process of including an element of pre-existing music into a new unique composition. This could be something as simple as a melody, beat, vocals, or even speech that has been manipulated to fit, and add to your piece. 

This concept and practice of music sampling emerged in the 1970s and has evolved over the past few decades.  Music sampling has shone a light on older songs while blending them with newer music. 

In the early stages of music sampling, when technology wasn’t as advanced, people went record shopping looking for little snippets that could be used to elevate the piece as a whole. Older artists like Michael Jackson and Aretha Franklin have been the blueprint for many modern-day artists. Current-day artists including  Nicki Minaj, Drake, Yung Gravy, and Kanye have sampled songs from other artists; evidently, this process is still popular today. 

  For example, the resurgence of music from the 20th century with the help of TikTok and other social media platforms has enabled and boosted the confidence of both producers and singers to explore music beyond what was created within the last decade. Even when listening to newer artists talking about their inspiration in interviews, they have many similarities.

When sampling is done well, it can spread to the younger generations especially if they are a part of a trend. The role of the media can be influential in terms of bringing older songs back to life”

— Isaac Ahn

said sophomore Isaac Ahn. 

It is important to recognize the role of the media in terms of how music is remembered and valued. Various TikTok songs or popular artists like Yung Gravy have sampled other famous artists from the 70s and 80s like Patrice Rushen, Player, The Spinners, etc. For those who appreciate and listen to older music, the realization that modern-day artists are using and appreciating their music is invaluable. Not only does it provide an ‘ah ha’ moment for listeners, but it exposes them to diverse and unique music. 

“One of my favorite samples has to be ‘Footsteps in the Dark Pt.1 and 2’ that was sampled by Ice Cube in the song ‘Today Was a Good Day’. There have been so many times when I’m listening to a song and I freak out because I can recognize the song that it samples. My dad listens to a lot of old music so when music is sampled I tend to recognize it, in terms of modern-day music,” said junior Zora Blu Teacher.

Whether it’s music that you have knowledge about from your parents, or if you are just very into music, being able to recognize various songs both old and new, can be an enriching experience. In terms of fostering this knowledge, social media has done a great job in terms of exposing people to new genres of music. Not only does it expose new listeners to it, but it also can provide a feeling of recognition, nostalgia, and appreciation for those who listen to more unique genres of music. 

“A way for music to become more popularized, in my opinion, is if there’s a really popular song that samples a much older song, it can help you explore new genres if you are interested,” Isaac reflected. 

For those who do have musical education, the experience of analyzing and recognizing the various modern and traditional components of music is extremely fun and engaging: “Having a vocal education is key in terms of my recreational listening as well. It makes me appreciate music even more because of the analysis that I do,” said Isaac. 

So what does the future hold for music sampling? There have been many ongoing issues in terms of the legality of it and whether or not new artists should have permission to use these older songs. A perfect example of this is when Diddy used songs without approval, according to the Rolling Stones. There are many free samples available for new emerging artists, but the more popular artists tend to use actual songs. It is interesting to see what is being sampled now, and how these same songs could be sampled later. 

“I’m excited to see the new artists when we are adults and how they use the music that is being produced and created,” said Zora. 

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