The Most Commonly Sampled Breakbeats – Techno Edition (Part 1)

The mighty breakbeat. That funky, syncopated rhythm which is the backbone of so many dance-oriented tunes; culled from dusty crates of old funk and soul records where the drummer is given a moment to shine in a drum solo, a song intro or a rhythmic bridge. These moments of funk bliss were intitally looped by hand on the turntables of the early hip hop DJs. Once samplers became available, finding these breaks, sampling, looping and cutting them up became an art form all unto itself.

The use of breakbeats in hip hop music and drum & bass has been well documented and it is relatively easy to find lists breaking down which breaks were used on which songs on the web. When it comes to finding such lists for oldskool techno, it’s a bit more challenging. This list is an attempt to document several of the more common breaks used in techno. Many of these breaks are breaks also frequently used in hip hop, although typically pitched up or played at a faster tempo. I’ve always found it fascinating to hear the original songs, some of which are so different from the pieces in which their drumbreaks are sampled. The following list indexes the original source of a break and several of the techno tunes which used it.

The Amen Break

This can easily be called the granddaddy of all breaks. The genre of drum & bass, and its pre-cursor Jungle, owes heavily to this beat and there are literally thousands of tunes which feature this break in some form. This breakbeat plays such an important role in the evolution of electronic dance music, a gentleman named Nate harrison recorded an entire video devoted to the history of this breakbeat which you can watch here. I am sure many people who are even passingly familiar with electronic music have seen this video, but if not, it is highly recommended viewing. The original source of this break is from a 1969 B-Side by The Winstons called Amen, Brother.

http://www.youtube.com/v/GxZuq57_bYM

One of the earliest uses of this break in the dance music arena was Success-N-Effect’s Roll It Up:

http://www.youtube.com/v/8DTUk-rUhEI

Roll It Up was caned by Carl Cox in the well-known tune I Want You (Forever):

http://www.youtube.com/v/ve_h_-T6Hus

Other tracks featurning the Amen Break include: First Prodgect – Right Before, Atomic Brain – Atomic Brain, Skin Up – A Juicy Red Apple, 2 For Joy – Let The Bass Kick and Sys’tem X – Wind It Up (Bumpy Mix) (No YouTube Clip Available).

The Think Break

Think (About It) by Lyn Collins is a treasure trove of breakbeat goodness. This 1972 funk song was produced by James Brown and featured his backing band The J.B.’s. Probably the most well-known use of a Think loop is in the popular 1988 hip hop track It Takes Two by Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock. There are actually 5 separate sections of the record where breaks have been sampled from:

Think 1
Think 2
Think 3
Think 4
Think 5

Here is the entire song, for context:

http://www.youtube.com/v/eHn48b7iWF0

One of the earliest variations of a think break is on the acid house track Hip This House by Shadows J (and their particular edit of this loop was further used by DJ Splix in Nasty Rhythm and Rhythm Section in Perfect Love (2 AM):

http://www.youtube.com/v/_UFYHKzHokU

Here is another techno classic using one of the Think loops, Da Juice – C’mon C’mon (Mental Bass Mix):

http://www.youtube.com/v/MYKaBGj_j-0

All of the various Think loops have been pitched up and down, cut and otherwise manipulated to the point of being barely recognizable. For example, Isotonik’s Different Strokes, in which the Think break is somewhat difficult to spot due to the layering of other drum hits:

http://www.youtube.com/v/m4-8BsQxLZI

Finally, here’s a list of other classic techno tunes, all using some variation of one of the Think breaks: Greed – Give Me (Quadrant Mix), Bass Construction – Dance With Power, E-Lustrious – Ragga Tip, Petra & Co – Just Let Go, Blow – Cutter (Acid Mix), Rabbit City #1 – Cutter Mix, The Gonzo – Lost and Smart Systems – The Tingler (State Side Swamp Mix)

The Hot Pants Break

Bobby Byrd is a funk and gospel artist and is credited with “discovering” James Brown. An instrumental dub of the track Hot Pants is the source of the final break we will be looking at in this episode:

http://www.youtube.com/v/K7doq5HouVQ

This beat was actually featured in the song Fool’s Goldby alternative britpop band The Stone Roses; their drummer Alan “Reni” Wren played live with the Hot Pants loop in the background, as heard here:

http://www.youtube.com/v/FuPfbfJm2rc

This particular version of the break, with the live over-dubbed drummer, was actually lifted and used by The Ya Yas on their 1991 techno track Looove (Quadromania Mix):

http://www.youtube.com/v/Q6gXDcI9TpQ

However, there are a number of songs that feature the original raw Hot Pants break, most notably The Prodigy’s Charly:

http://www.youtube.com/v/HntARyHUgng

You can also hear a heavily reverb-drenched version of this break in Meat Beat Manifesto’s Radio Babylon, which itself became a heavily sampled tune:

http://www.youtube.com/v/8ILqfpDD6XE

Other tunes featuring the Hot Pants Break include: Addis Posse – Let The Warrior’s Dance, Nebula II – Seance, Lab Technicians – Sweet Perfection, Bizarre Inc. – Plutonic and The Future Sound of London — Papua New Guinea.

These three songs, in and of themselves, form the basis for countless techno tunes. In Part 2, we will examine several other important breakbeats which provided the rhythmic glue for many other oldskool techno classics.

TouchOSC controlling a Modular Synth

A Guy Called Tom (yes, that’s his name on Vimeo) is using the TouchOSC app on his iPhone to control a modular synthesizer. Pure Data is doing the heavy lifting, converting the data to MIDI. Here is what he says about it:

TouchOsc iPhone app sending osc data into PureData Extended, where it is converted to midi and sent to the Doepfer MCV24 which converts it to voltage and controls the modular synth.
TouchOsc XY Pad controls the pitch of two Thomas Henry VCO-1 which also crossmodulate each other.
TouchOsc Sliders control Elby Steiner filter cutoff, Plan B Model 10 env cycle speed, Doepfer BBD feedback and delay. Thomas White LPG used in both mode for amplification. Delay is a Stereo Memory Man with Hazarai. Sorry for the video quality, its done using a photo cam.
Using TouchOsc is fun, there is a lot of control right at your fingertips. Actually it can control way more than i have to control 🙂 Really cool app. Disadvantage is the steping in the control voltages that you can hear quite well, especially when controlling the pitch of oscillators. Not sure if its the midi resolution, the mcv24 or the application itself.

This is very cool. I was experimenting with TouchOSC during my Special Projects in Music Technology class last quarter. I was just using my iPod to control some sounds in Pure Data, this is taking it to the next level. Maybe even the level after that.

2099 Called, They Want Their Bad-Ass Multi Touch DJ Rig Back

Welcome to the future. This is a concept I have been playing around with in my head and on paper for some time and now Pablo Martin has brought this vision to fruition. Basically, Pablo has created a software interface called Emulator that allows Traktor to receive multi touch data, freeing it up from the confines of just the mouse and allowing it to be used on a multi touch surface. That right there is cool enough.

Rodrigo from Chile is developing the multi touch surface you see in the video, which is called Töken. Between the two of them they have put together one hell of an incredible DJ rig.

Shout out to simfonik for turning me on to this.

Summer!

Summer is here and along with it an opportunity to recharge, refresh and get working on some stuff that the extra time available from not having school will afford me. That includes more frequent posts to my blog here; I know I’ve lagged somewhat but this last quarter was pretty brutal for me.

Things I’d like to get working on this summer:

1. Make a couple of new mixes. Discogs is now a media partner with Juno, so they are an excellent source of digital media along with Beatport which I have also used in the past. I love vinyl, but there is no denying the ease of use and efficiency of time and cost that mixing with digital media offers. Reading some of the comments in various forums there seems to be some animosity by some DJs and vinyl heads towards the digital media and it’s a debate I’d like to engage in, but that is for another post… Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments if you have an opinion.

2. Work on a couple of remixes. There are a number of remix competitions out there, some of which offer some pretty cool prizes. I’ve done one so far, but I definitely want to get cracking on some more and continue polishing and refining my production efforts. The findremix blog is a great way to keep track of all of these competitions.

3. Do some more work with TouchOSC and PureData.

4. I downloaded the VST Software Development Kit from Steinberg a while back, which allows you to create your own virtual synth instruments. I just haven’t had the time to work with any of it. So I definitely want to take a more serious look at that.

5. Start reviewing some more music/DJ based apps for the Ipod/Iphone/Ipad here (Yes, I want an Ipad, dammit!). Like the vinyl versus digital format debates, there seems to be some apathy by DJs and producers towards these emerging tools. Again, I see no problem with looking for new tools to work with and technology is merely about providing new tools to work with. Again, another debate to post about in depth another time. But since I have an interest in developing apps myself I guess you could call me biased on these issues. Main thing preventing me from serious app development is Apple’s requirement that apps be developed on a Mac… which I neither have nor can afford any time soon. So I might have to look at starting with droid app development.

6. There are still a number of other music development platforms I have been exposed to recently including Max, CSound, Super Collider and something called the Synth Toolkit. Obviously, I can’t delve too deep into all of them, especially with all the other stuff I am trying to get familiar with, but definitely want to play around a bit with each of these. That’s always been one of my problems, overly ambitious with too broad a focus. Something that’s hindered me in the past, but something I am working to improve as I get older (and school has definitely helped with that!)

7. Last but not least, I would like to add a section to this blog that focuses on the history of electronic music. I’ve been fortunate to be exposed to a lot of interesting information over the years; stuff that I think would be interesting to share with other folks who are into synthesis, electronic music of all styles, music production, DJing, music technology and everything that goes along with all that. There are so many interesting precursors and influences to today’s electronic music that I believe are important to share. So maybe something like a wiki or just a “spotlight of the week” type thing.

Skinput

This video highlights the development of Skinput, a project that uses the bodies’ surface as an input mechanism. A bio-acoustic sensor device is used to capture and decode taps made on the body, with a high degree of accuracy. Pretty wild and there are a number of applications in a wide variety of industries where such an interface would be useful. Obviously, I see music and performance capabilities…

More details at Chris Harrison’s site.