So I have been in contact with the Music Manager at the London School of Sound in Clapham, London and met him today for a tour of the school and also a interview/chat around the subject of sampling. It was super useful to get insight into the design process of music sampling. He took me around different studios explaining the different sounds they create, but more importantly explained the step by step process of how a music producer comes up with new sounds and distorts sounds. Will upload edited interview (right now it is my direct typing which is probably all over the place) , i would like to explain what the explained through drawings for the white book.
Interview with Aaron, Music Manager at London School of Sound
We have separate rooms each creating its own sound textures, the club-looking room will make a more clubby sound, whereas the classical room will be more adapted to the live performance of classical instruments, piano, strings, etc. The more creative you are with the design and size of the room the more creative sounds we can create. For one music production session the musicians played in separate rooms to create the best of each sound, however could be kept altogether by the music producer.
So if we are looking at Dr Dre, he would have worked mainly with records that he liked the feel of. He would have been looking for a specific sound to recreate. So usually he would choose 4 bars, which had a bass, drum, backing, but probably no vocals. Maybe a part of the intro, a clean part of the record. He would then put it into his board and record it through a 4 track recorder onto a cassette. The idea is then to loop the 4 bars and then he starts to layer other sound on top. Maybe from the same track. He probably chose a sax or horn, a part of the music where they could stab through the loop. By the end he has got a melody, bass, drums. For hip hop the most important part is now the vocals. All the other sounds are just the platform for the vocals. For Dr Dre, the vocals would have been very important.
So sampling is a great way to create new sounds and the aim is always trying to figure a new sound, music that nobody has ever heard of. Before travelling and bringing back sounds that nobody had heard of allowed for DJ to create new grooves, making them successful. Today that is very hard, especially with the internet and the amount of sampling going on, it is very hard to create an unheard sound. Today many people try and recreate samples. You will have a sample with a drum and bass and the music producer will perhaps keep the drum and get a bass player to play the music live, record it and play it on top of the drums. Off course the original sample artist needs to be credited as you are still stealing the fragment of music, but that is one way for producers to make a new sound. Playing the sample live or with a new instrument or different studio. The thing with sampling is that it is so precise, everything about it is controlled and listened to. A music producer is looking to replace as many things as possible to create that new sound he is looking for.
The laws of sampling are huge and can be very confusing. Some pieces of music which are direct copies, where only one word is changed can be fine with the law whereas Daft Punk who have taken a piece and reversed it, pitched it, made it unrecognisable can lose a legal battle. It is a huge subject and very hard to understand. The Amen Break at the time was an amazing drummer that sat in a studio and had 7 seconds to make a beat. At the time it is important to know that tapes were extremely expensive compared to now. I can record hundreds of projects on one 35 GBP hard rive, but a tape was like 250GBP a minute or something. So now people have made millions based on one 7 second beat that was sampled, looped and placed into a track. The drummer never got any money for that breakbeat. In fact I think there was a crowd fund project where they asked the public to donate money to the drummer and they ended up giving him 5000GBP. In any case sampling laws are a big subject and something which seems to change depending on every situation.
So a student here Andrea, who is making a lot of trap music will have some very key elements to keep to his music. He will have an 808 drum machine, high hats, something like a 32 or 64th, we like to call it a high hat machine gun. He will also have a melody that repeated, chords, the chords have to be interesting so if he is using a simple piano chord he has to add something, usually that will be something on a string texture. And finally he will have some sound effects, like gun shots.
If we are looking like a big famous artist and music prodcuer, someone like Amy Winehouse and Marc Ronson. Robson will usually ask Amy what she listen to, what she thinks she sounds like, who she wants to sound like. Its all about finding the style for the final track and recreating that with the artists. For example Leon Bridges has the most motown sounding tracks and yet you look at the 2014 copyright certificate and you realise he has used everything from the type of tape for recording to the type of microphone to recreate the style and sounds of motown.
Sampling and distortion, well the sky’s the limit really. We could sit here all day and find ways to crete new sounds, i mean that is the aim. You could play it out a speaker and record it on different tapes. You could improvise with live artist. For example get a drummer to copy the exact sample and then get him to add something a little new over and over again until you get the right sound.