History of Breakbeat
November 19, 2007 8:42 PM   Subscribe

What books/websites are there which go into detail about the history of specific breaks?

I'm looking for information as detailed and clearly explained as this fascinating video on the Amen break. I'd prefer something which is more academic in style. If there is a Routledge publication that has a title something like 'Subaltern Sampling: The History of Musical Excerpts in Modern Electronic Music' I would be delighted.

I'd be even more joyful if it came with a CD, like a traditional history of music textbook. That would be awesome. Why, yes, I am a dull person with a whole heap of textbooks on the history of music! However did you know?
posted by winna to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
Great video. There's a much-compressed dramatization of the transformation of the Amen break into drum and bass in this clip.

I don't know where to find more academic analyses of all this tuff. Maybe DJ Spooky has written something about it? He's kind of a theoryhead.

(Dissecting this stuff intellectually in that way seems utterly soul-killing, but that's just my humble opinion.)
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 9:41 PM on November 19, 2007


Response by poster: Discussing things intellectually just adds to my enjoyment. I know that's not everyone's cup of caffeinated beverage.

If there are any good discussions of the origins of different breaks that aren't academic, I'd be interested in those, too! I just wondered if there was somewhere a big glossy book that laid it all out.
posted by winna at 9:54 PM on November 19, 2007


That is an amazing video. I thought this music was unimaginative; I never suspected it was this unimaginative. And yet I come away with a much greater appreciation of it than I would have ever imagined. I know that sounds sarcastic, but it's not. Thanks! I don't think there's an answer to your question; you'd have to dig under books about reddish-brown Naugahyde and the landscape architecture of 7-11 stores during the 1970s, and I don't think it's there. Why don't you write it/post it?
posted by gum at 10:13 PM on November 19, 2007


Best answer: winna: In case you haven't already come across it, here's the website of the guy who did the recording featured in that video. Perhaps it will be a source of further leads.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 10:17 PM on November 19, 2007


Sorry; "unimaginative" isn't nearly what I meant, and on rereading I think my comment sounds irredeemably pejorative.

I wish you'd posted this to the front page instead. It would have been a big favorite.
posted by gum at 10:19 PM on November 19, 2007


Response by poster: It was on the main page a while ago.
posted by winna at 10:44 PM on November 19, 2007


That was a great video!
posted by Arbac at 11:04 PM on November 19, 2007


Best answer: I thought the video on the Amen break was a little pretentious, but had some interesting material. Most of these songs were obscure before they got sampled, and most of the songs / artists continue to be fairly obscure, so I'm not sure how much you'll find. Mostly, I'd suggest just listening to songs that have been sampled, and then doing your own research about the artists involved.

There is some stuff on the Apache break out there:

Michaelangelo Matos has a chapter in a book and a paper about it, referenced here on Soul Sides. Not sure if that's the whole paper there, or just an excerpt. Soul Sides is also a great source of information (and does have some sound samples / mp3s), though not sure it's always in as much depth as you're looking for.

I believe Bob James, who wrote "Mardi Gras" and "Nautilus", among other frequently sampled songs, has spoken some about rappers using samples of his tracks, though I don't have a link or a specific quote to put here.

I thought this Soul Sides Post was interesting as well, especially after reading up on Labi Siffre.

You could check out general books on early hip-hop culture in NY, and also Dick Hebdige's "Cut and Mix", which is mostly about Caribbean music, but which (if memory servces) talks about the influence of reggae DJ culture on hip-hop.

There are some online lists of who sampled what on what tracks, and there are some compilations of tracks that were sampled (both stuff like "Ultimate Breaks and Beats", and collections of songs sampled by a particular artist, like "A Tribe Called Quest").

To me, this is one of the most interesting things about sampling - say what you like about sampling (I have mixed feelings about it personally, though I think of it like collage - do you say an artist who works in collage isn't an artist?), but it has definitely exposed people to artists and songs that they might never have been exposed to otherwise. And many of these artists are folks who can use the exposure.
posted by PandaMcBoof at 11:17 PM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


I try to keep an eye out for the same thing, and to my knowledge there is no academic treatment of the genealogy of samples. At the very least, something like that could create some real legal and financial problems for people who are using unlicensed samples under the radar.
posted by rhizome at 11:32 PM on November 19, 2007


Best answer: You should also have a look at the Museum of Techno. While not specifically about samples and breaks (the curators are somewhat purist in their definition of 'techno') the museum is the permanent home of the James Soame Collection of Badboy Kickdrums, which should not be ignored in this context.
posted by Hogshead at 3:39 AM on November 20, 2007


Best answer: For a simple reference of who-sampled-what-where, check out the-breaks.com. The most satisfying reading in this area, however, comes from reading Wax Poetics magazine. Not quite what you are looking for, but it is close, and it is also an excellent publication.
posted by rachelpapers at 7:38 AM on November 20, 2007


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