top of page

Sample This! Part 3

Updated: Sep 25, 2020

A Brief Introduction to Sampling in Music: Part Three


Breakbeats, Turntables, Early Hip Hop

In the previous installments, we continued our journey through musical sampling’s history. We observed the ways that musical material has been borrowed, shared, combined, and transformed by musicians in the past. In this article, we will explore the history of early hip hop, and in the next article, we will move from the analog music world to digital.

Other Installments

A Brief Introduction to Sampling in Music: Part One – Early History

A Brief Introduction to Sampling in Music: Part Two – From the Avant Garde to the Mainstream

The Turntable as Instrument

As mentioned in Sample This! Part 1, the earliest experiments with sampling were created by re-recording excerpts from vinyl records until the invention of tape in 1928. The record player or turntable continued to be a source of inspiration for musicians and engineers looking to push forward the musical envelope. Avant-garde composers, such as John Cage (1912-1992). brought the turnable into the “Classical” concert hall with works such as Imaginary Landscape No. 1 (1939) and Credo in US (1941).

Cage scored Imaginary Landscape No. 1 for four performers with two of them controlling two variable-speed turntables, playing records featuring electronic sounds, as well as a pianist playing a muted piano, and percussionist playing a cymbal.The turntablists altering the sound of the records by changing the speed of the turntables, creating pitch effects that turntablists still use today. The piece was meant for radio broadcast and was first performed at the Cornish School radio station in Seattle on March 24, 1939. It is often cited as the first electroacoustic (music where the composer calls for technology to alter acoustic sound) music ever composed.