View Poll Results: Does "West End Girls" contain rapping?
Yes 52 74.29%
No 18 25.71%
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  #1  
Old 12-29-2018, 10:36 PM
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Is "West End Girls" a rap?

Well, at least the verses.

This extremely important topic came to me earlier today when, upon listening to it, I asked myself "holy shit, how is it 2019 and you're finally figuring he is rapping on this song?"

But, is he? Poll to follow, public as always.
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Old 12-29-2018, 10:51 PM
Dag Otto Dag Otto is offline
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Rhythm. Rhyme. Yeah, I think it's rap. Never really occurred to me either.
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Old 12-29-2018, 10:51 PM
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It was certainly their intention - link.
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Old 12-30-2018, 12:47 AM
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and its not the only song they did it in ……… because early in their career neil wasn't sure he could sing for a whole song …… so he would do what they call "speed rapping" these days through some of the song... at some point they phased it out as he was more confident about his singing
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Old 12-30-2018, 04:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dag Otto View Post
Rhythm. Rhyme. Yeah, I think it's rap. Never really occurred to me either.
Ditto.

It took me a long time to realize it, probably because I was about 9 when it came out and didn't really care about defining things then, but when I listened to it as an adult, it became obvious to me.
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Old 12-30-2018, 09:16 AM
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No, it's no more rap than Bill Shatner covering Lucy In The Sky, or Telly Savalas doing If. Choosing to use a more spoken style rather than pure signing is not sufficient to be rap.
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Old 12-30-2018, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Just Asking Questions View Post
No, it's no more rap than Bill Shatner covering Lucy In The Sky, or Telly Savalas doing If. Choosing to use a more spoken style rather than pure signing is not sufficient to be rap.
I disagree. This is clearly imitating the rhythm and cadence of early 80s rap. It's not just freeform spoken word. Definitely rap.
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Old 12-30-2018, 11:31 AM
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Yep, that's rap. It's a sentence or more*, spoken in rhythm. There's even an accented syllable on ever snare hit. If I wrote it down, I would have to have notes for each syllable.

What Shatner does isn't rap because it's not in rhythm. And I agree this sounds like early 80s rap. Maybe those who disagree are used to the increased use syncopation found in more modern rap?

*I don't tend to think it counts as rape when a song that just have a few spoken words, or use speak-singing for parts. For example, Be Prepared from the Lion King is not rap, even though Scar will speak some words in rhythm, particularly near the beginning.

Last edited by BigT; 12-30-2018 at 11:35 AM.
  #9  
Old 12-30-2018, 11:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
This is clearly imitating the rhythm and cadence of early 80s rap.
And, per zombywoof's link, specifically copying Melle Mel, one of the more influential early rappers. So, not exactly groundbreaking rap, but rap, nonetheless.
  #10  
Old 12-30-2018, 11:37 AM
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If Blonde's Rapture is to be considered a seminal rap song (and believe me, I've tried to talk reason into my white friends about this) then West End Girls fits very comfortably in that tradition.
  #11  
Old 12-30-2018, 11:44 AM
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Also, to add to zombywolf's cite and further corroborate it:

https://www.rollingstone.com/music/m...-girls-202378/

Quote:
The Pet Shop Boys loved Grandmaster Flash’s hip-hop track “The Message” and decided to take a stab at rapping themselves. “So I wrote a rap fallen on from those lines ‘Sometimes you’re better off dead,'” [Chris] Lowe said, which he debuted in the song’s intro.
And the key quote from zombywolf's link:

Quote:
Speaking with Colleen Nika for Interview magazine in 2010, Tennant copped to biting his “West End Girls” flow from Melle Mel’s rap on the 1982 Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five hit “The Message”—a much grittier record Tennant thankfully stopped short of fully emulating.

“Yes, the rhythm of the rap is exactly the same—but I do it in an English accent,” Tennant said, quoting a “Message” lyric to prove his point.
So we have both Chris Lowe and Neil Tenant saying it was clearly intended to be a rap; it sounds like an early 80s style rap; ergo, it is rap.
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Old 12-30-2018, 03:01 PM
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I thought it was just because of the rhythm. You know, rap-rap, rappity-tap.
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Old 12-30-2018, 03:05 PM
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I always liked the GWAR version of West End Girls. Warning: Vulvatron quite possibly NSFW, unless you work in a sex shop.
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Old 12-30-2018, 03:07 PM
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I had never thought of it as such, but here, seeing/hearing/reading the evidence for, then I have to agree that yes, it is rap.

Huh.
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Old 12-30-2018, 03:09 PM
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so is "what did I do to deserve this" have a rap in it too?
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Old 12-30-2018, 04:17 PM
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*blinks*

Wow, it is a rap!

/mindblown
  #17  
Old 12-30-2018, 11:05 PM
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Pet Shop Boys are a highly underrated band.
  #18  
Old 12-31-2018, 01:36 AM
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Wiki describes it as a synthpop song influenced by hip-hop and I would say that is more accurate than calling it a straight rap song.

BTW did anyone else call on Amazon Echo (or something similar) to play the song after clicking on this thread ? Such amazing technology we live with ...
  #19  
Old 12-31-2018, 01:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lantern View Post
Wiki describes it as a synthpop song influenced by hip-hop and I would say that is more accurate than calling it a straight rap song.
Yes it depends how we parse the OP question. There's definitely rapping in WEG, so I voted "yes", but you're right: to call the whole song a rap is a stretch.
  #20  
Old 12-31-2018, 06:05 AM
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I still say it's rap. Plenty of rap has sung lyrics for the chorus.
  #21  
Old 12-31-2018, 10:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lantern View Post
Wiki describes it as a synthpop song influenced by hip-hop and I would say that is more accurate than calling it a straight rap song.
The question of whether the whole song is a rap is a blurrier one. I don't know if I would answer in the affirmative there. But the full questions from the OP is "Is 'West End Girls' a rap? Well, at least the verses." So that was the question I was answering.
  #22  
Old 12-31-2018, 10:25 AM
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Well, "The Message" is easily one of the most well-known and influential rap songs in history. So, if it emulates that I would say yes.
  #23  
Old 01-01-2019, 06:15 PM
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Does it contain "rapping?" Yes.

Me personally though, I wouldn't consider it a rap song.
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Old 01-01-2019, 08:16 PM
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It is a rap song, but in the pop rock genre rather than hip hop. Years ago, the local 70s-80s-90s radio station would play a promo priding itself for playing "music for nice people, no rap". But it played "West End Girls" all the time. The contradiction would piss me off.

U2's "Numb" also qualifies as a rap song.
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Old 01-02-2019, 02:24 PM
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Wow, one of my favorite songs from the 80's and until this thread and related articles that have been shared I never thought of it as a rap song. Just seemed like a catchy pop song with a nice lyrical tempo to it but for whatever reason I never connected it to hip-hop/rap. Look at that, 2 days into 2019 and I already learned something new!
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Old 01-02-2019, 02:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monstro View Post
It is a rap song, but in the pop rock genre rather than hip hop. Years ago, the local 70s-80s-90s radio station would play a promo priding itself for playing "music for nice people, no rap". But it played "West End Girls" all the time. The contradiction would piss me off.
I would have interpreted that to mean they don't play songs glorifying violence, homophobia & misogyny. Does that sub-genre have a name? Gangsta rap?
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Old 01-02-2019, 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by BigT View Post
*I don't tend to think it counts as rape when a song that just have a few spoken words, or use speak-singing for parts. For example, Be Prepared from the Lion King is not rap, even though Scar will speak some words in rhythm, particularly near the beginning.
So you're saying Be Prepared isn't legitimate rap?
  #28  
Old 01-02-2019, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Ludovic View Post
So you're saying Be Prepared isn't legitimate rap?
Yes, that is what I was saying. I'm arguing it doesn't become rap simply because you throw in small bits of spoken dialog in rhythm. Scar is sloppy enough with his rhythm (making it sound like regular dialog) for it not to count as rap anyways, but Shenzi's perfectly timed "Where do we feature?" doesn't make it rap, either.

It's just a concept that happens in musicals where certain lines are spoken or use speak-singing.
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Old 01-02-2019, 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Gerald II View Post
Does it contain "rapping?" Yes.

Me personally though, I wouldn't consider it a rap song.
I'd argue that calling the song rap and calling it a rap song carry different meanings.

That said, given they were deliberately copying a rapping style, I say it counts as a rap song.

I agree with monstro that it's not hip-hop. But those aren't actually the same thing. You can have hip-hop with no rapping, and rapping without hip-hop. It's just that hip-hop is a style that tends to include rapping.
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Old 01-02-2019, 03:57 PM
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This is why I prefer to use the term "hip-hop" when describing what many here would call rap music. Hip-hop is a lot more than just a lyrical style, and all that extra stuff is what most people conflate with the term "rap" today. In a technical sense of course the OP is right. In a technical sense though, all modern rock and pop music (including hip-hop) is a form of jazz. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Last edited by DrCube; 01-02-2019 at 03:58 PM.
  #31  
Old 01-02-2019, 04:02 PM
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Old 01-02-2019, 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Riemann View Post
I would have interpreted that to mean they don't play songs glorifying violence, homophobia & misogyny. Does that sub-genre have a name? Gangsta rap?
A lot of rap, especially earlier pre-90s rap, exhibits none of those characteristics. I mean, look at something as seminal as De La Soul's "Three Feet High and Rising," for instance.
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Old 01-02-2019, 04:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monstro View Post
It is a rap song, but in the pop rock genre rather than hip hop.
Yeah, that's a good way of putting it. The underlying beat and aesthetic is not what I generally think of as hip-hop, but the vocal technique is definitely rap.
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Old 01-02-2019, 04:17 PM
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Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
A lot of rap, especially earlier pre-90s rap, exhibits none of those characteristics. I mean, look at something as seminal as De La Soul's "Three Feet High and Rising," for instance.
Sure, that's why I was asking if there's better terminology to differentiate the ugly nasty stuff that gives it a bad, erm, rap.
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Old 01-02-2019, 04:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Riemann View Post
Sure, that's why I was asking if there's better terminology to differentiate the ugly nasty stuff that gives it a bad, erm, rap.
Within most genres, you're going to get a range. Sure, gangsta rap is probably going to have more of the objectionable stuff, but it goes beyond just a genre description. I mean, just look at hard rock. A good bit of it has the same issues; much of it does not. But I can't pinpoint a hard rock genre that is free of misogyny vs one that is not.
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Old 01-02-2019, 09:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Riemann View Post
I would have interpreted that to mean they don't play songs glorifying violence, homophobia & misogyny. Does that sub-genre have a name? Gangsta rap?
If that was their intention, they could have just said, "We don't play songs glorifying violence, homophobia, and misogyny." There's no need to single out rap, like rap is the only genre to have "not nice" songs.

Last edited by monstro; 01-02-2019 at 09:23 PM.
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Old 01-02-2019, 09:40 PM
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Originally Posted by monstro View Post
If that was their intention, they could have just said, "We don't play songs glorifying violence, homophobia, and misogyny." There's no need to single out rap, like rap is the only genre to have "not nice" songs.
I agree, that would have been better. Still, rap has had a much greater prevalence of that in its recent history, so it's not hard to see where antipathy toward the entire genre comes from. It's not as though anyone has any moral obligation to stay open-minded about art forms that have such a history.
  #38  
Old 01-02-2019, 09:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Riemann View Post
I agree, that would have been better. Still, rap has had a much greater prevalence of that in its recent history, so it's not hard to see where antipathy toward the entire genre comes from. It's not as though anyone has any moral obligation to stay open-minded about art forms that have such a history.
Oh, come on. Listen to 80s hard rock (and 70s, too). Misogyny is not exactly rare in that genre.

Last edited by pulykamell; 01-02-2019 at 09:42 PM.
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Old 01-02-2019, 09:46 PM
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  #40  
Old 01-03-2019, 03:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
A lot of rap, especially earlier pre-90s rap, exhibits none of those characteristics. I mean, look at something as seminal as De La Soul's "Three Feet High and Rising," for instance.
Yeah, but pre-90s rap stopped getting played on the radio by the mid-90s.
I grew up listening to hip-hop and most of what was popular on the radio was glorifying violence, misogyny and homophobia.

91-96
NWA
Ice Cube
Dr. Dre
Snoop Doggy Dogg
2Pac
Junior Mafia
Biggie
Westside Connection

That's the stuff I was hearing on the radio all the time.

97-2000
I felt like it started to lighten up a bit. Puffy ushered in the shiny suit era. Mase was a huge star. Lauren Hill made a big splash.
But then you had:
Nas
Mobb Deep
DMX
Jay-Z
Eminem
Master P
all glorifying violence, misogyny, and homophobia.

2001-2003
Outkast's radio output was more positive, if not their overall output (I only have one album). But the violent stuff was still getting a lot of attention:
Ja Rule and Murder INC
50 Cent
Eminem
The Game
TI
"Trap music" starts to get popular, music about slanging drugs.

2004-200?
Kanye West raps about a broken jaw and changes things. 50 Cent becomes rejected by the masses.
It's cool to be a regular dude in hip-hop or even be just a weirdo.
I think Lupe Fiasco is making noise, but maybe he started even earlier.
Big Sean doesn't seem to rap about being a tough guy or gang member.

But somewhere along the way, non-gangsta rap becomes unpopular again.
Even weirdo and self-proclaimed Martian Lil Wayne starts glorifying gang life, as he started claiming Blood in exchange for street protection.
"Drill Music," the successor to gangsta rap, gets big by way of Chicago artists like Chief Keef.

Positive or conscious rap is not popular in mainstream hip-hop.
Cardi B, one of the biggest rap artists right now, openly brags about being a gang member, not just in interviews, but in her music and videos too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by monstro View Post
If that was their intention, they could have just said, "We don't play songs glorifying violence, homophobia, and misogyny." There's no need to single out rap, like rap is the only genre to have "not nice" songs.
Yeah, I can see why people might have that opinion of rap music, but yeah, they should have just said it the way you did.
I personally don't like listening to rap music anymore, because the majority of what I come across is extremely depressing, with the importance placed on materialism, violence, and misogyny.

Last edited by Gerald II; 01-03-2019 at 03:11 AM.
  #41  
Old 01-03-2019, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Gerald II View Post
Yeah, but pre-90s rap stopped getting played on the radio by the mid-90s.
I grew up listening to hip-hop and most of what was popular on the radio was glorifying violence, misogyny and homophobia.
This thread is talking squarely about 80s music, and the music station quoted by monstro was a 70s-80s-90s station that wholesale said "no rap," even though there was plenty of rap in that time period (and now, too) that qualified as "music for nice people."
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Old 01-03-2019, 07:51 PM
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Originally Posted by BigT View Post
*I don't tend to think it counts as rape when a song that just have a few spoken words, or use speak-singing for parts. For example, Be Prepared from the Lion King is not rap, even though Scar will speak some words in rhythm, particularly near the beginning.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ludovic View Post
So you're saying Be Prepared isn't legitimate rap?
FYI, Ludovic I got the joke. (And am frankly surprised you're the only one who riffed on BigT's post.) Well done.
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Old 01-03-2019, 08:50 PM
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Is "Walk This Way" a rap?
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Old 01-03-2019, 09:15 PM
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Is "Walk This Way" a rap?
Which version?

On the OP, Grandmaster Flash was one of the first cassettes I bought with my own money, crazy how different it was back then.

While I won't vote or comment on the genera question because I think that they are more the product of marketing departments I do want to point something out.

The Pet Shop Boys used an EMU Emulator. It must have been new because listen to the drums on the song then go listen to Billy Jean, which are played by the great session drummer N'Dugu
who just passed last year.

It is quite clear that is where some of the drums are from, yet most of the "who sampled who" databases haven't captured it.

https://www.whosampled.com/Pet-Shop-...est-End-Girls/

I am betting of you know the original Emulator disk sounds, and dig around you can probably find other samples to claim credit for. Neil Tennant has admitted every sound on that song was from the Emulator, so there are other sources to be found that aren't as distinctive as Billy Jean to be found.

Last edited by rat avatar; 01-03-2019 at 09:17 PM.
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Old 01-03-2019, 09:47 PM
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Originally Posted by rat avatar View Post
It is quite clear that is where some of the drums are from, yet most of the "who sampled who" databases haven't captured it.
I thought I had linked to an article that mentioned this, but I guess it was just in the general research I was doing. Here it is:

Quote:
Orlando played most of the instruments on 'West End Girls', including the jazz riff at the end of the song. Chris Lowe played one chord and the bassline.

It also included a drum part taken from Michael Jackson's 'Billie Jean', and an arrangement which Tennant called "Barry White chords".
But I think that may be only in the Bobby Orlando version.
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Old 01-03-2019, 09:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dzeiger View Post
Is "Walk This Way" a rap?
The Aerosmith version has a melody to it. I mean, it's kind of close, but there's pitched notes there throughout, not just spoken. You can see the transcription here. With spoken or rapped words, the tones would just be notated as "x"es throughout.
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Old 01-03-2019, 10:03 PM
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Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
I thought I had linked to an article that mentioned this, but I guess it was just in the general research I was doing. Here it is:



But I think that may be only in the Bobby Orlando version.
Note by "playing" they mean playing the keyboard on the Emulator it seems.

https://youtu.be/TK1P93r9xes?t=4897

Note, I am not making a value judgement, but it is interesting being one of the first pure sample based albums.

Last edited by rat avatar; 01-03-2019 at 10:06 PM.
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Old 01-03-2019, 10:05 PM
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Originally Posted by rat avatar View Post
Or by "playing" they mean playing the keyboard on the Emulator.

https://youtu.be/TK1P93r9xes?t=4897
Nice. Never had the Emulator, but my first (and only dedicated hardware) sampler was the Emu ESI-32. Lots of fun with that unit.
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Old 01-03-2019, 10:12 PM
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Here is an example of the strings used in the song, this is why I was saying you would have to know these sounds to figure out what they sampled.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DAlOpsaNL4

The Emulator II Marcato strings are very distinctive, you probably had the sample even on the ESI-32

Last edited by rat avatar; 01-03-2019 at 10:15 PM.
  #50  
Old 01-03-2019, 11:31 PM
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Originally Posted by rat avatar View Post
Here is an example of the strings used in the song, this is why I was saying you would have to know these sounds to figure out what they sampled.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DAlOpsaNL4

The Emulator II Marcato strings are very distinctive, you probably had the sample even on the ESI-32
My ESI-32 came with no sounds whatsoever. I just used it as a pure sampler--everything sampled and tweaked by me. But a few years later, I did come across some sample libraries while recording at a studio that the engineer gave to me. And I do believe the marcato strings were on there. They sound really familiar.
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