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The 6 most important seconds in music history

This one is for all music lovers out there. Especially the ones who love Drum and Bass, Hip Hop or Jungle (like me). It tells you about a 6 second long sample taken from a B-Side of a 1969 hit-single by a Funk and Soul combo called The Winstons. It is regarded as the one defining piece of music responsible for the creation of a whole subculture and music genres like, well you've guessed it: Hip Hop, Jungle and Drum and Bass.

The break called "Amen Break" was named after the song it was taken from: "Amen Brother".

Since the development of electronic sampling technologies in the early 1980s the Amen Break has been used in 1000s of songs and adverts. And with probably being the most sampled beat of all time has manifested itself as one of the most important 6 seconds in modern music history.

The Winstons never claimed any royalties, or fame. Almost nobody even knows that they indirectly invented a huge part of modern music culture. This fact really makes them True Musical Heroes to me.


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Reader Comments (6)

give me a break

June 18, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterfreda

informative and amazing history

July 6, 2010 | Unregistered Commentertom

absolutely amazing video! the quote at the end about the need for a rich public domain to have a strong culture is just eye-opening. 6 seconds of sampled audio really did change the world.

July 18, 2010 | Unregistered Commentergrizzle

What about Stockhausen? He basically pioneered electronic music.

May 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMark

This is very interesting and you back your point of view up very well. I'm not sure I totally buy the whole idea though. Ultimately that sample is just 6 seconds of drums. Given that our music is based mostly on the base drum beat filled in with the rest of the kit I think it's safe to say someone would come up with that particular pattern (electrical or live) at some point. I wouldn't be surprised if other patterns in the bassline are running throughout many of the other forms of music.

The Amen Break, being so specifically identifiable along with all the "Jump Up" from the 90's (which came from early hip-hop) it's very easy to see how you came to this conclusion.

Very entertaining.

July 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHT

The argument with respect to copyright is completely self-serving and hypocritical. If you make use of someone else's artistic work, and you want to sell your work, which incorporates theirs, then you have to have their permission and/or pay them for their work. That's only fair, only right, only decent, and, yes, it happens to be the law – even the law isn't always wrong.

If an artist wants her/his work to be available for free, they may indeed make use of creative commons. That's their right, and their choice. You will note, however, that under most forms of creative commons any derivative works will also have to be available for free.

You're not talking about that sort of virtuous anarchistic principled process, though, are you?

In effect you're saying you want to appropriate other people's work as you see fit, in your self-interest and profit if you so choose, in your sole choice and discretion, all in the name of cultural richness and other worthwhile purposes.

There's a moral term for this – it's called 'bullshit'.

There's also a legal term for it – it's called 'bullshit'.

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