“Sampling and my ego? I definitely wanna read how these two are related!”
Yes, I’m going to tie the two together. To be specific, the act of sampling that involves taking/lifting segments of completely published works and incorporating them into a newly created song.
“Yeah! So what’s the problem with that Yohance?”
Here’s the thing. Sampling has an incredible amount of built in benefits that typically aren’t available to most musicians. Unless…… well I’ll get to that in a moment. But for now the benefits extended to people who use sampled music in their productions are as follows:
1. The newly created work benefits from the fully realized idea of the sampled work. This is true even if only a 1 second snare drum was sampled.
2. The newly created work has the potential to adopt the success of the sampled work.
3. The composer creating the newly created work benefits from an inexhaustible amount of high quality source material.
Of course this list could go on for a good bit, but even the above mentioned typically aren’t available to most musicians unless they steal the works of others! So what happens when an artist takes these benefits for granted? Or even worse, doesn’t think that they’re even benefiting from them? Here’s where we talk about the ego of artists.
3 turntable FX/sample blending machine used at CBC Radio (Canada) circa 1960
The Artistic Ego - Is It A Bad Thing?
definition - a person's sense of self-esteem or self-importance.
The Ego doesn’t need to be put aside or denied. It simply needs to be acknowledged. It’s an enticing co-conspirator that will always validate its importance because of its very role as it relates to your psyche. What all of that means is that it is indeed difficult to see when your ego is getting in your way.
One of the biggest challenges artist face is knowing whether they’re actually good or not. How does an artist really know? This actually deals with what external entities think of an artist’s music? These entities can range from the casual listener, music critic, dedicated fan and even immediate family members. How do you really know how these people regard you and your music? And better yet why do you care?
Answer: You care because of the desire to fuel your ego.
The esoteric idea that we are all connected is not too far off from the way we interact with our ego. If we had no one/nothing to validate or acknowledge us, would we even exist? The old question “if a tree falls in the middle of a forest and no one see it happen did it make any sound?” applies here.
To me a healthy ego comes from the cultivation of various areas of our lives. The internal, the external. The past, the present and a healthy outlook on the future. Seeking validation from these areas of life nullifies the possibility of the ego becoming hyper-focused or over inflated but instead well-balanced.
Now Back To Sampling & Ego Harvesting
Sampling can bolster an unhealthy sense of ego that is not entirely deserved. What do I mean? I mean the following:
When you capitalize on the recorded accomplishments of other artists by sampling them without properly recognizing they’re contribution to your new creation it can (and often will) impart a false sense of recognition. It can make an artist feel like they’re completely responsible for the finished piece of music and therefore causing the ego to be falsely inflated. It becomes difficult to deny this type of credit.
To say -
“You know what? If I hadn’t sampled this artist’s performance/recording, my music on its own wouldn’t be nowhere near as good.”
Its much more common to arrive at the decision that says -
“If it wasn’t for me and my sampling skills, this song would have never existed; And besides, I’m doing this “antiquated artist” that I’m sampling a favour by introducing them to an entirley new group of listeners. I’m the innovative one here so I deserve the credit for being a visionary of recorded art!”
When we sample without respect or even regard for how much the sampled material in question contributes to our overall song and the reception of it by appreciating listeners, it’s very easy to feel compelled to assign all of the credit to the ego.
Boom Bap Culture Sampling Copyright Issues On YouTube & Google
Am I saying you shouldn’t sample other peoples work? No! I’ve already said as much; But this does bring about another question? I’ve often been confronted on my stance for sampling and selling music without permission. I’ve gotten reasoning that has ranged from “It’s the underpinning of Hip-Hop”. All the way to "I just don’t care! I sample what I want so leave me alone!"
So do we wantonly sample as a way to avoid giving recognition and doing the work it takes so that we can maintain the opinion that it’s all us that deserves the creative credit? Are we being defiant for the sake of protecting our own egos? Are we doing this on purpose? Can the culture and the vulture be one and the same?
To all of these observations I’d say; When we equate our music as part of us it becomes susceptible to the needs of our ego. But in reality music is your creation. Not you. It can live without you once you create it. Can you separate your music from your ego?
Thanks for reading!
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