This is the last Origin of Samples post for now. It gave me great pleasure digging through the history of sampling, even discovering a few new things myself. Hopefully I can pick it up some time in the future, but for now I’ll be focussing my energy on my own music. More about that next week! For now let’s end with something epic:
Classical composer Carl Orff”s masterpiece Carmina Burana, composed between 1935 and 1936, contains the most familiar movement of his work which has been used countless times in popular culture: O Fortuna. In music this often meant just playing it before a show to make the entrance of the artist more glorious.
Sampling didn’t really happen until the early 90’s when KMFDM used bits of it in Liebeslied (1990) . The most infamous samplings of O Fortuna happened simultaneously in 1991 however.
At the early peak of house music two Belgian producers sampled O Fortuna, had the songs played in clubs and decided to release it. Their bombastic track O Fortuna was released in 1991 under their recording name Apotheosis. Right in the same week, a group that called themselves Fortuna feat. Satenig released their song O Fortuna. The song was much more mellow and radio-friendly and didn’t use a sample from any recording, but clearly replayed the tunes from Carl Orff’s version.
By this time the heirs of the deceased Carl Orff had gotten wind of this and sued. They managed to ban both tracks in the week that they were released. This meant that the cd-singles were on the shelves still on Saturday, but by Monday were all gone. I know, because I managed to snatch up a copy of the Apotheosis version the Saturday after it was announced the songs would be banned.
The tracks entered the Dutch charts at #4 and #1 that week and then the week after dropped out of the charts completely, which had never happened before. The radio stations couldn’t play the songs (even though Fortuna feat. Satenig had made a different version with different note progression).
Interestingly though, even though the songs still aren’t released, the original O Fortuna was sampled countless times after that. You can see the list on WhoSampled.com, but here’s some notable examples. Enigma used it twice in the track Modern Crusaders (1999) and more prominently in Gravity of Love (1999).
In hiphop where the ego’s match the grandeur of the song perfectly, it was sampled by Nas ft. Puff Daddy in Hate Me Now (1999), by Cam’ron in Get’Em Girls (2004), Stack Bundles in Ya Dig (2006) and many others after that.
Dance music, despite two dance tracks being banned because of the sampling, kept on using it too. Most were samples in gabber/hardcore: Chosen Few in 2006, DJ Wicked in 2000 (who actually sampled the Apotheosis track!), DJ Outblast in 2001. Even a rather more radio-friendly non-hardcore dance track O Fortuna by Hypster seems okay in 2011.
Probably the most interesting dance version post-Apotheosis is the Anthem for the huge dance party Sensation White 2004 (annually held in a stadium) by The Rush. Though it doesn’t sample anything directly, it’s obvious what the inspiration for the track is.
And of course there’s a few odd ones out. Ministry used it in their anti-Bush song No W in 2004. Clan of Xymox got away with sampling it in 2006 in Be My Friend. BOB released a song called O Fortuna in 2008, with different lyrics but a familiar melody. No one was sued.
So if you plan on covering or sampling Carl Orff, apparently it’s okay if you clear the rights or make sure his heirs don’t find out about it. And with that advise I’ll end this column for now. Hit it it Carl!Like this? Buy me a drink!