How does sampling in music work?

Is it different for every song?

It’s up to the copyright holder for each song to approve or deny requests for each proposed sample usage - you might read this:

There are really two kinds of sampling. The kind zombywolf is referring to where you are taking a piece of someone else’s music and re-purposing it.

There is also the kind of “real life sampling” done by live artists who don’t have a full band. I’m not talking about just playing a backing music track, I’m talking about something like what I recently saw at a small club in Atlanta where Bob Schneider played. He would play a little snippet on a drum pad, record it, and then set it to trigger with a pedal. He would then record a keyboard segment and set it to trigger as well. So forth and so on. He used either foot pedals or his ipad to manage the samples during the son, when he usually focused on his vocals and guitar.

The best link I can find to him doing this is here on youtube. Very NSFW song by the way.

It’s a weird experience to see this done live. it requires a performer to spend a minute or two just seemingly doing random musical snippets to set it all up.

leftfield6, that sounds more like looping to me. Looping is a form of sampling where you use equipment without editing-capabilities, and sometimes without storage, to make a loop, with overdubs. Some loopers have more han one channel, and most loopers have unlimited overdubs, but you are sort of constrained in which how you deal with control of the loop. You can do this with samplers too, but samplers also let you edit, start/stop one of many samples, loop samples, chop, rearrange and resample, among other things.

Basically, sampling is split between using samples of other peoples music, or sampling your own sounds, wether that is a recording of you playing a riff or a recording of a blue-footed booby screeching by the shore. It’s just using recorded sound in music, usually employing technology labelled as samplers or sample-players.

How anyone wishes to use samples is up to themselves…

I thought the first use of the word “sampling” in music was how they made the tapes for a mellotron.

Ignorance fought! Cool, I didn’t know it had a name. Just was really blown away with how well it was done on the fly.


Here’s one of my favorite examples of looping, where Bon Lozaga (formerly of Gong) creates a layered background with just his acoustic guitar for HTR’s cover of Peter Gabriel’s “Mercy Street.”

Several years ago a rap group in England sampled one of her songs, the most unlikely song imaginable. I’m not much into rap but I like the song, especially the lyrics. It’s generally positive rather than negative or misogynistic. I’m certainly biased because they were awesome enough to use HTR, but I still think this song should have gotten more attention. Lunatic Fluid’s “Stroll On”

No problem! I’ve been using various loopers for around seven years now, and am still blown away by by how versatile looping (and sampling!) is. My favourite (electro-harmonix stereo memory-man w/hazarai) is a digital delay with 30sec(detuned 60 sec) loop-time. With some good use of the delay effects you can get some incredibly complex, layered soundscapes and oddities. I also bought a new one (tc electronics ditto x2) recently with two channels of 5min loop-time, usb and storage capabilities.

Twenty-five years ago Vanilla Ice famously claimed he didn’t even do it! (he did post a mea culpa at some point…)