Sampling Glossary

A 1980s era home recording studio with a soundboard.



A TR-808

a turntable

A pile of vinyl records, with the Ohio Players’ “Pleasure” visible on top. The album shows two hands reaching up, with the wrists bound in a silver chain.s

From software to sequencers, the language of sampling is technological, musical, cultural and legal.

Akai MPC Samplers
Now considered classics, these samplers arrived on the scene in the late 1980s and were the first affordable digital samplers. The MPC-3000 sequencer-sampler enabled more complex, multi-track hip-hop production.

Break
A break is a segment of music — anything from drum beats to melody loops — that can be sampled.

Copyright
A form of intellectual property law, copyright protects original works of authorship in a given medium.

Crate Digging
DJs, hip-hop musicians and producers go crate digging for old, hard-to-find and unusual vinyl records, or “dusties,” to sample and use in new compositions.

Dub
One of the precursors of hip-hop, dub is a form of ska and reggae music out of 1960s Jamaica, characterized by an MC singing or rapping over a mostly instrumental “dub” or remix version of an existing recording.

Fair Use
Fair use generally describes the idea that portions of copyrighted materials can be used — without permission from the creator — for education, criticism or commentary purposes.

Funk
Called “the DNA in hip-hop” by icon George Clinton, funk music is characterized by strong bass and drum lines, with less emphasis on melody than its soul and R&B progenitors.

Hip-Hop
A musical genre and culture typically based on elements of rapping, sampling and DJing.

Mashup
A mashup is any type of media — such as a song or video — that combines material from multiple sources to create a new work.

MC
A hip-hop performer or rhymer; a.k.a. a “mic controller” or “master of ceremonies.”

Open Source
Software that can be used, redistributed or rewritten free of charge; it’s usually created by volunteers.

Roland TB-303
The Roland TB-303 is a bass synthesizer and sequencer first manufactured in 1982 as an accompaniment to drummers and guitarists. Its driving beat was later used by electronic musicians as the defining sound of house, techno and acid music.

Roland TR-808
Created in 1980, the TR-808 was a pioneer in programmable drum machine technology, and significantly contributed to the development of electronic music production.

Sampler
An electronic device that records and plays back samples of sounds.

Sampling
The process of digitally copying sound segments from a preexisting musical recording to form sounds for a new musical composition.

Sequencer
A device used to record and arrange audio segments into new recordings.

Turntablism
The art of playing a record turntable as an instrument, scratching or mixing in order to create rhythms and manipulate sounds.

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