The Amen beat

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Can I get an Amen? (local mirror [34MB]) is a short film mediation on the history of perhaps the most important drum sample ever and the implications of assigning, protecting and enforcing the copyright of that sample. Best of all, the essay was recorded to an acetate album, which is played back as the film’s narrative.

The Amen beat will be instantly familiar when you hear it. I connect this beat most strongly with the Powerpuff Girls theme and Bowie’s Earthling album. Since the sample has been used since the late eighties, you’ll have your own ideas about it.

For the record, I think that it’s high time to use modern, living drummers to create samples for new music. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being inspired by old recordings and even pinching a bar or three from them. I’m all for recontextualization of audio samples, but I think this 6 seconds of drumming has had its fifteen minutes of fame.

Certainly, this film essay is appropriate as “smash-ups” like Q-Unit and the Kleptones are really blurring the lines of copyright.