Digital Sampling: The Design and Use of Music Technologies, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Digital Sampling

The Design and Use of Music Technologies, 1st Edition

By Paul Harkins


192 pages

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Paperback: 9780815381648
pub: 2019-09-02
Available for pre-order
Hardback: 9781138577510
pub: 2019-09-02
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Digital Sampling is the first book about the design and use of sampling technologies that have shaped the sounds of popular music since the 1980s.

Written in two halves, Digital Sampling begins with an exploration of the Fairlight CMI and its use by artists like Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel to sample the sounds of everyday life. It also focuses on E-Mu Systems and the use of its keyboards and drum machines in hip-hop. The second half follows users across a range of musical worlds, including US/UK garage, indie folk music, and electronic music made in sewers, war zones, and crematoriums.

Using material from interviews and concepts from the field of Science and Technology Studies (STS), Digital Sampling provides a new and alternative approach to the study of sampling and is crucial reading for undergraduates, postgraduates, and researchers from a wide range of disciplines, including music technology, media, communication, and cultural studies.


"This is an original, engaging, and much-needed book about sampling, which focuses on the history, design, and use of key technologies like the Fairlight CMI and E-mu Emulator. By exploring the practices of users in a wide range of musical genres, it demonstrates the rich, diverse, and complex ways that sampling has shaped popular music." – Ragnhild Brøvig-Hanssen, Associate Professor in Popular Music Studies, University of Oslo

"The first rigorous, comprehensive, sociological study of sampling, which vividly details the impact that sampling practices have had on popular music culture. A wonderfully readable text that will deepen and enrich our understanding of the myriad ways technology shapes what music sounds like and how it is made." – Nick Prior, Professor of Cultural Sociology, University of Edinburgh

"This readable and meticulously researched work is the first book-length account of the social, musical, and technological history of the sampler. Beyond the trope of appropriation, Harkins helps us hear the multiple ways that digital instruments are enmeshed with ideas and practices of the analogue." – Eliot Bates, Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology, City University of New York Graduate Center

Table of Contents

Part One: Instruments

1 – Tomorrow’s Music Today: The Fairlight CMI Series I and II

2 – Page R and the Art of the Loop: The Fairlight CMI Series II, IIx, and III

3 – Technologies of Hip-Hop: The E-mu Emulator, SP-12, and SP-1200

Interlude: Methodologies

Part Two: Users

4 – Microsampling: Akufen and Todd Edwards

5 – Appropriation, Additive Approaches, and Accidents: Found

6 – Foot Pedals and Folk Music: King Creosote

7 – The Sounds of Everyday Life (and Death): Matthew Herbert

About the Author

Paul Harkins is a lecturer in the Music Department at Edinburgh Napier University.

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