Can I Get An Amen?

Nate Harrison discusses the history of the legendary “Amen Break” – probably the most-used drum sample in all of hip-hop, jungle… and advertising. An entire subculture based on a 6-second loop from an obscure 1969 R&B record.

Can I Get An Amen? is an audio installation that unfolds a critical perspective of perhaps the most sampled drums beat in the history of recorded music, the Amen Break. It begins with the pop track Amen Brother by 60’s soul band The Winstons, and traces the transformation of their drum solo from its original context as part of a ‘B’ side vinyl single into its use as a key aural ingredient in contemporary cultural expression. The work attempts to bring into scrutiny the techno-utopian notion that ‘information wants to be free’- it questions its effectiveness as a democratizing agent. This as well as other issues are foregrounded through a history of the Amen Break and its peculiar relationship to current copyright law.

Fascinating (relatively speaking) to watch how the progression of the needle across the LP inversely tracks the progression of your own QuickTime slider.

Lessig: “Culture is impossible without a rich public domain.”

Thanks Sean Graham

Music: T.Rex :: The Motivator

3 Replies to “Can I Get An Amen?”

  1. I’d have to disagree. James Brown’s Funky Drummer drum break has got to be the most sampled drum loop of all time, at least in hip-hop. In jungle/drum’n’bass it may be a toss-up. Compare the Xampled list for Funky Drummer to that of the Amen break.

    Wikipedia even references it (along with the Amen break).

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