The History and Development of the Sampler

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A sampler, in regard to audio, is an instrument capable of playing back and manipulating audio recordings. they have been developed to include increasingly versatile and impressive functions over the past seventy years. This essay will try to present and examine the notable historic developments that have led to the modern sampler.

Some of the earliest sampling can be heard in 'Wochenede' (1930) by German filmmaker Walter Ruttmann ^. Sounds were recorded using Tri-Ergon's sound-on-film system, which captured the audio as lines of varying translucence on photographic tape. He spliced and rearranged the film to create what he described as a "sound film without images"^. Ruttmann was in a rather fortunate position, sound-on-film systems were intended for recording synced audio to motion picture and would have been inaccessible to anybody outside the film making industry. #

By the 1940's a few others had began exploring recorded audio's potential for composition. French composer Pierre Schaeffer's work in this period was seminal. He was enthusiastic in sharing his ideas and techniques; encouraging other to experiment for themselves as discussed by Barry Schrader’s in his book 'Introduction to Electro-Acoustic Music' (1982):^.

Schaeffer developed a theory of composition [...] [and] documented his work in A la recherche d’une musique concrète [...] [allowing] others to study his work and repeat his experiments. [...] Schaeffer’s work led to the founding of the first institutionally sponsored musique concrète studio [...] [attracting] many composers, such as Pierre Boulez, Pierre Henry, Darius Milhaud, Oliver Messiaen and Karlheinz Stockhausen. (p.14.)

This is what set Schaeffer apart from his predecessors and contemporaries wh...

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...plies to drum machine sampler hybrids in general and affirms that they were strong production tool that transformed Hip hop. this was due to their capability to sequence entire instrumentals and their affordability.

In 1985 the Atari ST was released as the first micro computer to come with integrated midi. The Akai S series of sampler were designed to be controlled via midi, evident by its rack mount structure and lack of tactile controls. Via early DAW software the Atari ST was able to control these Akai S samplers, resulting in a setup resembling the fair light CMI in function, at a substantially cheaper price. The choice of samplers was very diversified as more manufactures developed similar products and more microcomputers integrated midi. The rack mount style of pc controlled sampler and the drum machine sampler were able to co exist as a matter of preference.