The sampling continuum: musical aesthetics and ethics in the age of digital production

Negus, Keith; Behr, Adam and Street, John. 2017. The sampling continuum: musical aesthetics and ethics in the age of digital production. Journal for Cultural Research, 21(3), pp. 223-240. ISSN 1479-7585 [Article]

Sampling continuum- JCR - Behr et al Accepted GRO June 17.pdf - Accepted Version
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Abstract or Description

This article argues for a view of popular music production that better accounts for sampling than has historically been the case by viewing it as a continuum of activity. Weighing evidence from interviews with musical practitioners against the legal and industry frameworks we illustrate, first, how sampling has been legally differentiated from other types of musical copying. Secondly we show that, despite this, comparable ethical codes exist within and across musical methods wherein sampling is part of the spectrum of activities. Thirdly, we discuss the ubiquity of digital technology within popular music production and the resultant closer relationship between sampling and other musical techniques moving onto, fourthly, how the sampling aesthetic has become integrated into musical practice in a manner insufficiently accounted for by its legal and industrial contexts. This ‘post-sampling’ reality places sampling and other musical techniques along a spectrum, in practical and ethical terms, and musicians would be better served by sampling being treated as part of the overall musical palette, allowing both scholars and the law to concentrate on ideologies of practice across the tools that musicians use rather than between different specific techniques.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


Copying; copyright; sampling; digitalization; popular music

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Music > Popular Music Research Unit


2 June 2017Accepted
12 June 2017Published Online

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

05 Jun 2017 09:37

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:27

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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