The “Amen Break”

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Can I Get An Amen?. Pro­duced by Nate Har­ri­son. 2004.

Can I Get An Amen? is an audio instal­la­tion that unfolds a crit­i­cal per­spec­tive of per­haps the most sam­pled drum beat in the his­to­ry of record­ed music, the Amen Break. It begins with the pop track Amen Broth­er by 60’s soul band The Win­stons, and traces the trans­for­ma­tion of their drum solo from its orig­i­nal con­text as part of a ‘B’ side vinyl sin­gle into its use as a key aur­al ingre­di­ent in con­tem­po­rary cul­tur­al expres­sion. The work attempts to bring into scruti­ny the tech­no-utopi­an notion that ‘infor­ma­tion wants to be free’- it ques­tions its effec­tive­ness as a democ­ra­tiz­ing agent. This as well as oth­er issues are fore­ground­ed through a his­to­ry of the Amen Break and its pecu­liar rela­tion­ship to cur­rent copy­right law.

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