We had a (secret) launch gig!

Just now I did my very first and rather exclusive live gig. It was both a try-out and a show-case of something I’ve been preparing for a while: headphone gigs at any location with a very small audience (maximum of 4 people). I’ll be giving more details about how it works in a week or so and if you’re interested how you can get me to come play for you.

In attendance for the gig at my home were three very special friends who serve as consultants for the project. This was my way of saying thanks to them for their ideas, some of which were generated even after this gig. Donja, Elouise and Jeroen: thank you.

I also have a few potential gigs lined, but since this is still in negotiation & planning stage, can’t say more about that just yet. I’ll keep you posted!

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Carl Orff – O Fortuna

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!

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StudioPress page order

I know, this blog is about music, but since I tweak the code of my own website, I sometimes run into problems. So I’m blogging this, because I had a hard time finding the answer and hopefully Google will send them here. So music lovers, just ignore this post. ;)

The Problem: page order in StudioPress

My blog runs on WordPress and at the moment uses the StudioPress theme by DailyBlogTips. I made several pages but wanted to re-order them, but couldn’t. Whatever I did, whatever plugin I installed to fix this, the order stayed the same: the order in which they were created.

The Cause: get_the_pa_ges

StudioPress does not use the default code to fetch your pages (wp_list_pages). Instead the creator of StudioPress decided to use his own function to do this: get_the_pages. This is probably why all those plugins to order pages don’t work. Yet. With one little fix in the code I could let My Page Order finally do it.

The Fix: menu_order instead of ID

I have to be honest and say I found this fix after browsing through all the comments on this page . Try this, it may work for you:

  1. In the WordPress admin panel, go to Appearance > Editor and open up header.php
  2. Find the lines that say: $these_pages = $wpdb->get_results(‘select ID, post_title from ‘. $wpdb->posts .’ where post_status = “publish” and post_type = “page” order by ID’);
  3. Change the last part order by ID’); into order by menu_order’);
  4. If needed, install and use My Page Order to alter the order of the pages.

This worked for me. If this doesn’t work for you, please don’t ask me, but consult the makers of StudioPress or this page, since I’m not an expert in either WordPress, StudioPress or php. I just figured this out using Google and a lot of patience too.

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40 Noises That Built Pop

The Word posted an excellent list of 40 Noises That Built Pop. Essentially it backs up the argument made in Everything is a Remix I talked about last week: some genres lean heavily on the same noises. Though strictly speaking it’s not sampling, how could you ever hear a dubstep song without that distinct wubwubwub, gospel (or seventies rock) without a leslie speaker or gabber without a distorted Roland 909 kick. We all imitate, alter and progress music.

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Siouxsie and the Banshees – Happy House

In 1980 Siouxsie and the Banshees released the song Happy House as a single. As irony has, a decade later it’s melody would be used to produce a big commercial house music hit.

The distinguishing riff from the opening first pops up in the 1990 track Neue Dimensionen by Techno Bert. Despite the German title (and lyrics), the producers behind it were Italian and the track was released on an Italian label. My guess is that’s how Italian producer Gianfranco Bortolotti got wind of it.

Bortolotti was the man behind Euro-dance group Capella. While he had released singles before under the name it wasn’t till the release of U Got 2 Know in 1992 that Capella scored its first massive hit throughout Europe and beyond … with the same tune from Happy House. Later Capella would get sued over this and lost.

Spacework disregarded the melody and sampled the vocals from the original Happy House in the track Happy House in 1993, as a clever reference the the house scene that was booming at the time.

In 2000 Mindless Self Indulgence also sampled the intro directly in their song Bitches (of which there’s a hilarious Pokemon video mashup btw). The original Happy House also got a make-over in the 2004 remix of Happy House by SFB.

Whosampled.com also lists the bassline in Calvin Harris’ Acceptable in the 80’s from 2007 as being an interpolation of Happy House. The 2009 song Dressed to Kill by Preston however hardly hides it’s original. The Weeknd also sampled it in the song Glass Table Girls in 2011. On top of those there were also covers by Ginger Ale (2002), Celluloide(2003) and Shindu (2011).

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Everything is a Remix

For people who liked RiP: a Remix Manifesto, I can also recommend Kirby Ferguson’s 4-part documentary Everything is a Remix. You can see part 1, part 2 and part 3 on Vimeo. Part 4 is scheduled for Autumn. If you watch them, wait till after the credits. And if you like it, make a donation.

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Peter Allen – I go to Rio

A few weeks back, Coldplay was in the news for yet again ‘borrowing’ some one else’s music for a song. This time though, they were honest about it and even secured the rights to do so. Their song Every Teardrop is a Waterfall takes its opening from Peter Allen’s song I go to Rio (1977).  Coldplay is not the first to sample it though.

Apart from a French cover in 1977 by Claude François and a cover by Pablo Cruise in 1978, nobody touched the song for over a decade. In 1990 however a multitude of songs pop up, all titled Ritmo de la Noche. All of them sample I go to Rio and clearly one of them was the original and the other songs did a cover version of it.

The people at whosampled.com did some research and figured out the first released version was by Chocolate. It had several dance remixes on the single. Also in 1990 it got released by Mystic. And by Lorca (which was probably one of the more famous versions). And by The Sacados. Oh and in 2004 Safri Duo did their own version too. It was an instant hit, though you can question by who.

I love how all the commenters on Youtube for the different versions of Ritmo de la Nocha-versions complain about Coldplay ripping of that song while actually almost all of them are a cover from the Chocolate-version and that song samples I go to Rio. Irony.

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Bob James – Take me to the Mardi Gras

Last week I discussed The Power (1990) by Snap!. Among others it samples The King of Beats (1988) by Mantronix. Silly, cause the whole track by Mantronix is a collection of various (now famous and over-used) samples such as (among others) Kool & the Gang’s Jungle Jazz (1975), the Amen-break and Pleasure’s Celebrate the Good Things (1978).

But what Snap! could’ve sampled directly themselves was the now-legendary bells and drums from the intro of Take me to the Mardi Gras (1975) by Bob James. That’s where Mantronix got it. In fact, a whole lot more people got it from there. The list on WhoSampled.com for the song is insanely long, just like the other Bob James-songs I’ve mentioned. I won’t discuss them all, just lift out a few.

The first time it was sampled was by the Crash Crew in 1982 in Breaking Bells (Take me to the Mardi Gras). After that it laid dormant for a year, was sample again in 1984, but since 1986 it has been almost sampled non-stop. The track that kicked off the trend was probably Run DMC’s Peter Piper from 1986. The Beastie Boys were subtle about it in 1986 and used only the drum-break not the bells in Hold it now, Hit it.

After hiphop used it to death, it started popping up in popular music too. In the same year as Snap! used it (1990), it also popped up in Caron Wheeler’s Living in the Light. While PM Dawn’s 1991 hit Set a Drift on Memory Bliss heavily on True (1983) by Spandau Ballet, it also uses the Mardi Gras bells. TLC’s Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg from 1992 too.

Perhaps the most sneaky use of the sample is by the Chemical Brothers in Dig your Own Hole (1997). Put the intro of the song in reverse and what do you hear? The Mardi Gras bells sped up and in reverse.

Missy Elliot released the song Work It in 2002 and at the end we find what’s almost an homage to classic hiphop: the Mardi Gras bells. Interestingly Missy Elliot’s vocals also feature earlier on a song that leaned heavily on the Mardi Gras bells: That Thing You Do by Gina Thompson from 1996.

A more recent example from 2008 is the song Carry Out by Timbaland (featuring Justin Timberlake). The catch in this song however is that the bells were pitched up to a point where they’re almost unrecognisable. You almost wonder why it was sampled at all.

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For all the early-adopters like me who have a Google+ account, b-sting.com now has a +1 option for every blogpost and pages. You’re welcome.

Also, I’m experimenting with cross-posting to Twitter. Just so you know.

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Snap! – The Power

Last week I discussed Love’s Gonna Get You by Jocelyn Brown from 1985. One of the most famous tracks that sampled it is The Power from 1991 by Snap!. The song however is surrounded by controversy.

First of all there’s the obvious use of Jocelyn Brown’s vocals. Jocelyn Brown’s sample was used without permission or credit by the German producers behind Snap!: Michael Muenzing and Luca Anzilotti. Jocelyn Brown wasn’t pleased with that and still isn’t.

Secondly the first version The Power sampled the vocals and music from Let The Words Flow by Chill Rob G from 1989. Originally The Power was released under the name Power Jam (feat. Chill Rob G). When all of the samples didn’t clear and they threatened to get in trouble, the producers said fuck it, and re-recorded the vocals with Turbo B, an American soldier/rapper who was stationed in Germany and re-released it as Snap!. It’s ironic considering Turbo B’s lyric “copywritten lyrics so they can’t be stolen” in The Power.

Lastly, the music used in The Power is mainly one sample from the Mantronix track King of the Beats from 1988.  Which is silly considering they could’ve just sampled the original that Mantronix used. But more about that original next week.

Eventually, as The Power got embedded in pop-culture, it too got sampled. The Farm’s Stepping Stone remix from 1990. Everybody by Members of Shockwave in 1995. The Ting Tings covered the song Standing in the Way of Control by The Gossip in 2008 with a sample from The Power. Hit the Floor by Big Ali ft. Dollarman from 2008. Ghettosocks used it in Take Chains Off from 2009. There’s a remix of Kanye West’s song Power from 2010 which, apart from featuring vocals by Jay-Z also features a sample of The Power.

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