The Amen Break
A very interesting video and extremely well written explanation of the history of the Amen break. There’s a lot to talk about on this important topic. It’s that important because the decisions made politically around this topic of copyright infect a whole music industry. This video talks about one particular drumbeat but talks at the same time about a global issue (?) in the music industry. You can be very extreme about this topic. You can be in full support of total copyright, which means that artists cannot use samples without permission and payment to the artist who is legally the owner of the sample, or, the other way, you want the whole industry to be an open space where music is exchanged for free and the use and exploitation of those samples without permission has no consequences.
I’m writing this in the first place as a music lover and as a non-musician. I never had an experience with copyright whatsoever of something I made myself. I can easily imagine that it must have been very frustrating for an artist in the eighties to see your music be used by other musicians with no compensation because there simply wasn’t an institution nor correct law to look over all the traffic. Today, it’s more like the opposite. Everything is controlled by law and the institutions who control these are a big source of frustration for both artist and listener. On the other hand, it’s easy to be critical about everything, it’d be stupid not to acknowledge the fact that companies like Sabam are important.
In my personal opinion, I agree with the quote that says “a society free to borrow and build upon the past is culturally richer than a controlled one”. For me, that’s obvious. Artists are making music in the first place for themselves but I’d be very honored if someone else used my sounds to make something completely new and good. A huge and enormous successful example of an album completely built upon samples is DJ Shadows classic ‘Endtroducing….’. Not a single second or melody of music on the album he wrote himself, but the way he put the endless samples perfectly together is maybe even more breathtaking and I’m sure it took more time to make than a regular normal album.
So I really think you can be original by hinting to someone else’s work (off course, with hinting I mean influenced, the work you make has to be completely new, I’m not at all speaking in support of plagiarism). Apart from all this, it’s just obvious that the artist has to be protected for the sounds he makes, but there are other ways to do it that more support the cultural environment around music without sliding into a world where plagiarism is everywhere. That’s why I think an institution like Creative Commons is a blessing. End of recording.