timeline of sampling (v 1.1)…

August 27, 2006 at 19:28 | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Here is a brief timeline of key moments in the development of sound recording as related to sampling, and also sampling:

Brief Timeline of Sampling.

Pre-History: A Chinese myth states that sliding doors were fitted with a spike of bamboo that, when passed over grooves in the floor pronounced, “Please close the door.”

Pre-history: Early Romans create the Hydraulis organ, an instrument that incorporates the sounds of other instruments.

1800: Orchestrions—a type of organ—imitate all instruments of the orchestra.

1850’s: Bellows are used in experimental devices that imitate the human voice.

1877: Thomas Edison invents the phonograph.

1887: Emille Berliner creates the disc gramophone.

1890’s: Valdeman Poulsen invents Telegraphone-recorder that makes use of magnetized wire.

1906: Michael Wienmeister patents the keyboard phonograph in Austria

1908: Charles Ives composes The Unanswered Question, which makes use of various disparate coexisting elements.

1920: A dada performance consisting of 8 record players playing simultaneously takes place.

1920-25: Four patents are issued, to different individuals, that describe instruments that utilize recordings on wire, disc, or cylinder.

Late 1920’s: Photoelectric organs feature sampled sounds.

1929-30: Paul Hindemith and Ernst Toch produce grammophonmusik collages.

1930: Walter Ruttman produces Weekend, a sound collage intended to evoke life in Berlin.

Mid 1930’s: Call-in-clocks utilize sampled voices to give callers the time.

1937-38: Alec Reeve develops PCM, a technology for capturing sound.

1939: John Cage composes Imaginary Landscape No.1 for variable speed turntables.

1948: Pierre Schaeffer begins to develop Musique Concréte, experimenting first with records, and later with tape.

1950: Daphne Oram composes Still Point for double orchestra, and three 78rpm record players.

1952: John Cage creates Williams Mix, a massive piece for spliced tape.

1953: Pierre Schaeffer patents the Phonogéne, a tape loop player with 12 playback heads of various sizes that alter the pitch of the sound on the loop.

1955: Hugh LeCaine creates the Special Purpose Tape-Recorder, a multi-track keyboard controller that varies the speed of up to 10 tape loops.

1961: James Tenney samples Elvis in Collage No.1 (‘Blue suede’).

1964: The Mellotron, a keyboard that uses tape loops as sound sources, is released.

1965: Steve Reich uses tape loops of a sampled voice to create It’s Gonna Rain.

1968: Holger Czukay, of the German band Can, samples and re-contextualizes a Vietnamese singer on his album Canaxis.

1968: The Beatles use spliced tape samples of organ sounds on “For the Benefit of Mr. Kite” from the album Sergeant Pepper’s… in order to achieve a desired effect.

1969: Terry Riley’s Rainbow in Curved Air, in which a special tape delay continuously samples and re-plays his keyboard playing, is released.

1979: Mr. Magic, a Connecticut-based hip-hop artist, records the first sample-based hip-hop song using a then unheard of technique; a break from a record is recorded numerous times, and these individual recordings are then spliced into a loop.

1979: Sugarhill Records releases “Rapper’s Delight,” a record on which musicians replicate a small portion of another musician’s work in a looped manner.

1979: The Allen Organ Company produces electronic organs that use sampled organ sounds.

1979: The Fairlight CMI is released—it is the first digital sampling keyboard.

1981: Brian Eno and David Byrne release My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, on which a multitude of vocal samples are re-contextualized.

1986: The E-Mu SP12 is the first affordable digital sampler to be released. It allows musicians to sample entire measures of music. Hip-hop is transformed, and sampling becomes popularized soon after.

(Compiled from: Alapatt, Davies, Holm-Hudson, and Shapiro)



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  1. Actually i was under the impression that Planet Rock did no use sampling, but instead replayed the Kraftwerk elements used.

  2. wow.

  3. You have done it once more. Amazing post!

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