[rumori] The Sample

Jon Leidecker [rumori] The Sample
Wed, 26 Aug 1998 19:20:54 -0700 (00904213254,

At 12:22 PM 8/26/98 -0700, there was writing

Just a few distracting observations, hopefully not too digressive.

Bob wrote:

>Yes, I'd say there is room for some kind of standard to be set about
>what qualifies as dependent. For me I would say the leverage of the
>decision rests on "using the sample for it's connotation IN THE SAME
>John O., I think. My guess is this could be categorized and defined
>relatively strictly. It would also result in the Puff Daddies paying
>and the Negativlands not (which would be a bonus, but not my goal). I
>realize this is hard to juggle, but potentially more definable and even
>more amenable to some side of the issue than a complete sample ban
>(which is what we are facing in some sense).

Very hard to juggle. Still, this is something. Even given Puff Daddy's
new lyrics to the Sting tune, the instrumental sample serves an identical
musical purpose to that which it did in the original composition by the
Police. Oswald's is clearly an art piece, and the ECC's is closer to
kitsch but if it went to court it could successfully be argued that the
Alpert music and Chuck D vocals are, although unedited and intact, serving
an entirely new musical purpose through their juxtaposition. All it would
take was a really good lawyer. No problems there.

>From the seperate positions pro vs. con, this is one of those 'insoluable'
conflicts. Each party's beliefs are antithetical and every logical step
taken forward from them therefore just sounds like invented nonsense. 'The
rights of the Creator must be respected!' 'I have a right to create _new_
art!' etc.

Even Capitalism's adherents are starting to run into the limits of the
system, and now Consumer Culture is starting to produce an Art that is
begins its challenge to it's precepts of ownership and value the second it
comes into existence. It's just not supposed to. So even steps taken
towards 'legalization' are going to be pushing at the limits of sanity for
anyone on either side of the sampling argument.

At present it's just not humanly possible to officially 'recognize' the
creators of all those being sampled via money; neither economically for
the new creators or fairly by the copyright owners of the creators. So
'they' will do their best to prevent 'us' from distributing or even
creating this work, and 'we' will keep struggling to create it.

Until Capitalism actually ends, the concept of a sampling 'royalty rate'
can't be written off completely. But until we find the system or the
technology that can implement such a rate without crippling the production
of new work is found, it's just going to be fighting. Tiring to think
about, but it's not as if any of us have any choice if we're going to be
serious about our work.

I think the concept of a Sampling Fund is a bit premature. We need more
legal battles before the structure for one will even begin to be

On a side note, Woo! Puff Daddy! Wow let's go talk about Puffy a bit.
Steev's sarcastic 'defense' of Puffy's TOTALLY original recontextualization
is well taken, and I'm still reeling from the positive press he continues
to generate regarding his talent. The local independent weeklies in SF
here are both strangely pro-Puffy: "You have to admit, he knows how to layer a sample with fat beats", and there's this Alvin Lu guy who devoted an entire column to Puffy's boldest accomplishment to date. Did anyone out
there bother to be watching TV when this happened?

On Saturday Night Live, David Duchovny introduces Puff Daddy; the camera
zooms in to sheet music, top title reading "COME WITH ME", underneath "M & L: PUFF DADDY" as the live chamber ensemble intone the opening chords of "Kashmir". And there's Jimmy Page, playing along, live on stage, playing the chords alone, no space given for a guitar solo. A moment for sampling
artists everywhere.

Alvin Lu's column went on and on and on about how Puffy's version was a
true 90's pop masterpiece that stripped the original song to it's musical
core and removed all the fat. Puffy doesn't do much more than match the
original sample with funk drum fills, but complaining about it, I just end
up sounding old. "Every Breath You Take" just don't have the funk or the soul that "I'll Be Missing You" has, is what my 16 year old step-step-son tells me.

And one last part of my rant:

>I remember a song that sampled "Walk on the
>Wild Side" in exactly the same way.

I think Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch did this, but before that there was
A Tribe Called Quest's "Can I Kick It?" the album version of which garnered a lot of radio airplay. When they finally released it as a single, the new
remix contained nary a millisecond of the Lou Reed sample.

I remember originally taking it as a bold conceptual statement;
consciously putting forth the song's text, i.e. the RAP as the sole content
of what constituted the song, and the 'music' was completely subjugated to
a smaller role. I still think this 'concept' is a key to much of what is
revolutionary and exciting about rap; just the same, these days it's
increasingly cynically clear that the primary reason behind the missing
sample is that it just took a few months for Lou Reed's record label to
catch up with them.

Talktalk, talk.