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Sunday, March 18, 2012

The World's Most Important Drum Loop

Depending upon which musical world you live in, you may or may not know about a short 5.2 second drum loop that has spawned several musical subcultures, from hip hop to jungle to hardcore techno to drum and bass.

The loop is what's knows as the "Amen Break," and comes from a short drum break on the B side of a 1969 record by funk band The Winstons. The song is called "Amen, Brother" and the drummer was Gregory Cylvester "G.C." Coleman. The break has been used on everything from NWA's "Straight Outta Compton," to Oasis "D'You Know What I Mean" to Nine Inch Nail's "The Perfect Drug," to Lupe Fiasco's "Streets On Fire" to car commercials and television shows The Amazing Race and Futurama.

As these things frequently go, neither the drummer, the band nor the songwriter (Richard Spencer) has ever received any royalties or clearance fees, despite the fact that the influence of this short break has had a profound effect on music of the last 30 years.

Take a look at this brief history of the Amen Break, and you'll instantly recognize it.



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2 comments:

Rick Paul said...

The discussion of Zero-G's loops is likely misleading. While I don't know their specific history on that, based on how most sample library companies work, I'd expect odds are strong they hired a drummer to play the rhythms, rather than having just lifted the rhythm off a recording by someone else. Since there is no copyright protection for rhythms, their copyright would be only for their own recording of it (i.e. the Zero-G loops), and that would not infringe on the original recording being discussed. On the other hand, someone who lifts the part directly off the original record (or some descendant of a recording that did that) would be infringing on the copyright in that original recording. Whether that would also be infringing on the copyright in the song seems a bit more questionable in that there are neither words nor melody, nor even chord changes, in that segment of the recording.

Anonymous said...

This was very informative. I'm surprised that this loop has caught the ear of so many.

All of the high priced software that exists on the market can easily allow the end user.

This man has made a great point in this video. A message that should be directly addressed in a court for the copyright coverage of the loop.

It's clear.

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