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David Goldenberg

It Only Takes Six Seconds To Hear The World’s Most Sampled Song


What's the world's most sampled song? Chances are you've heard this 1960s gem in dozens of songs past and present.

This article originally appeared on FiveThirtyEight

Fans know that when a new Beyoncé, Kanye or Diplo track drops, it will likely contain a musical sample — an instrumental or vocal nugget from a song of yesteryear.

That nugget will be rearranged, looped or otherwise given new context. Drake’s “Hotline Bling,” for example, didn’t just introduce us to an unusual dance style; its sped-up sampling of an 1972 R&B hit reintroduced the world to Timmy Thomas and the distinctive beat of “Why Can’t We Live Together.”

There’s one song that’s been sampled far more than any other, according to one measure. The website WhoSampled.com, whose audience obsessively tracks what’s sampled, says that a 1960s track called “Amen, Brother” by The Winstons is the most-sampled track in history, and it’s not particularly close. By its count, more than 2,000 songs have sampled a particular drum beat from “Amen, Brother” that’s now known as the Amen Break. As you play the clip below, you can hear the The Winstons’ drummer, G.C. Coleman, play the kick drums, snare drums and cymbals in a funky four-bar pattern.

But what is it about a 47-year-old, six-second drum solo from a relatively unknown soul band that’s given it musical immortality? The answer involves the invention of two new musical genres, a new piece of technology and a power blackout.


Read the full story by David Goldenberg at FiveThirtyEight

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