Sub Focus on the Amen break: “Everyone has manipulated these tiny bits of audio hundreds of thousands of times – there’s loads of ways of interpreting this small batch of source material”
A drum solo performed in 1969 by Gregory Sylvester Coleman, otherwise known as The Amen Break, has been described as “the most sampled loop in music history”.
Sub Focus – AKA Nick Douwma – has revealed his processing technique of the Amen break, a drum solo performed in 1969 by Gregory Sylvester Coleman, that has been sampled on thousands of tracks.
The break has been described as “the most sampled loop in music history”, and in a recent episode of Tape Notes, Sub Focus has broken down how he likes to process it in Ableton Live.
“The way I’ve used is slightly old school,” he explains. “I’ve chopped it up in a sampler and I change the transpose of it as the pattern goes on to give it variation. It slightly shifts up and down as the variation goes on.
“It’s a technique for keeping it more interesting as it continues. Doing it in a sampler really helps because when you’re using an Amen in Ableton, because of the way you’re manipulating it, it will fill all the gaps, whereas in this way you’re working you end up with little silences depending on how pitched up it is, which gives it a bit more definition.
“It seems to feel different when manipulating that way,” he continues. “You tend to gravitate towards different types of edits when you’re dealing with it in a sampler, but it is an old-fashioned way of dealing with it.
“It’s mad the intimate knowledge you get of these breaks. Everyone has manipulated these tiny bits of audio hundreds of thousands of times and there’s loads of ways of interpreting this small batch of source material. If you’re a drum ‘n’ bass producer, you just become familiar with the varieties of Amen”.
You can watch the full interview below:
Sub Focus’ album Evolve is out now via EMI Records. Stream it at subfocus.lnk.to.
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