Amen to That

This is a long video clip. 18 mins in total. And it might bore you if you’re not a music geek. It’s all about how a 6 second drum loop from the B-Side of a single by The Winston Brothers, released in 1969, has become a cornerstone of modern music.

Even if you’re not a muso I reckon it’s worth watching for a couple of reasons:

  • The style of it is very basic, but it works. The spinning record is strangely mesmerising. And it works alongside the slightly hypnotic drone (in the nicest possible way) of the narrator.
  • There’s some incredibly interesting stuff in there about the point at which a cultural artifact essentially becomes public domain, and copyright becomes irrelevant. We’re reaching a point where loads of things are becoming so appropriated that it’s impossible to unpick them from their surroundings and give credit to the source.

And from a muso’s point of view, it boggles my mind that over the years a single beat, a noise made by one man hitting a drum, has been replicated, multiplied, sliced, re-ordered and rejigged in so many ways. In thousands of clubs all over the world every Saturday night you’ll be able to hear the noise of that man hitting that drum. You may not recognise it, but it’ll be there. Somewhere…

6 thoughts on “Amen to That”

  1. The Amen break is the foundation of jungle! It’s influence is truly incomprehensible in the evolution of synchopated music.

    And I love this film – I met some guys are a jungle rave in Australia who only know what the Amen was because of it!

  2. fascinating. as a non muso it is something i would never of thought about, so thank you for that.

    on the other hand, I can’t listen to a piece of music now without either hearing the AMEN beat, or trying to hear it.

    Its Coldplay for me from now on. so cheers for that!

  3. Iain,

    I don’t know much about the Classical music you refer to in your illuminating post, but the guys hypno voice is great, and the way they had the discipline to shoot the turntable locked off, with minimal cuts added nicely to the mesmeric quality.

    It’s a great little documentary. Marvelous.

    However:

    For REAL music; Jordan and Peter Andre have a new ‘cut’ (as I believe you young people say.)

    I urge you and your readers to enjoy this, and say ‘Amen’, to one of the great duets of the modern age.

    http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,22049,20590041-5006002,00.html

  4. I may be a beat or two out here (in fact I am sure I am) but I immediately thought of the Pixies “La La Love You” intro when I heard that break.

    Thanks for the link.

  5. Great video!
    Quite interesting, specially in this time of almost public domain music trough the form of constant mp3 illegal downloading.
    How does a beat bring such implications on the general pop culture and corporate laws is incredible. The hypocrisy of all the companies that try to stop development of the music in order to make a couple more bucks is not new, but indeed the fact that they took advantage of the beat to earn money illegally is incredible. This can be compared to the current issue with mp3´s. While every major record label was putting peer to peer networks on legal processes, a couple years later we see this same companies realizing that they actually can make some money selling this new platform for music.
    As a musician and producer, of course I believe it is important to maintain some kind of copyright protection as otherwise It would be impossible to make any money to live besides doing live gigs, but simultaneously I dont mind having my tracks as illegal downloads simply because It is impossible to control that. If you cant control it as it has been proven, use it to your advantage either in a mp3 pr point of view, or in a sampling evolution of music one.
    In the end I believe if the amen lasted this long, It must have something good with it and I believe the original creators should be happy with the fact that without knowing they built new cultures revolving on a 6 second piece of their work.
    Having said this..People please try to innovate to the greater extent you can!!
    End of text

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