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5 Different Ways of Sampling Claude Debussy
Sampling

5 Different Ways of Sampling Claude Debussy

Sure, sampling a French pianist from the 19th century grounded in Impressionism isn’t the sexiest thing to mention in your Soundcloud-description. But make no mistake: there’s a lot of ways to cook up something solid with the work of a pianist and composer like Claude Debussy.

By DannyVeekens

The straightforward way: make a loop

Make a loop out of Debussy’s gentle piano playing like frequent Kanye West collaborator Jeff Bhasker did on “Like The Sea” by Alicia Keys. Or if you prefer hip-hop over hits: the looped strings on MF Grimm’s “Teacher” come from Debussy’s iconic composition, “Clair de Lune”.

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2:39

From classics to classical

Redman’s “Syrinx” comes from the album The Rapsody Overture: Hip Hop Meets Classic. The 1997 project by Def Jam linked emcees such as Rev Run, Warren G, Xzibit & LL Cool J to European composers. The track by Redman is named after Claude Debussy’s “Syrinx”, sampling the flute from a piece Debussy wrote in 1913–another kind of golden era. Bonus: check out Peshay’s “On The Nile”, using the same flute but for a liquid drum-and-bass beat...

Go jazzy

Claude Debussy has had a huge influence on jazz artists such as Bill Evans, Ahmad Jamal & Herbie Hancock. No wonder even jazz artists sampled his work, such as French outfit Jazz-Hip Trio back in 1967. And, more recently, Kamasi Washington, who made a jazz version of “Clair de Lune” for his 3-hour jazz epos, The Epic.

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3:49

Dust off a synthesizer

The trailblazers of electronic music applied their synthesizer magic on a melody from “Rêverie”, one of Debussy’s first solo piano pieces to make an impact. Needless to say, Kraftwerk’s outcome was quite the opposite of Debussy’s dream-like piece: from an emotional bit to an industrial sound. The Man-Machine in all its essence... 

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3:53

Make it abstract

Even though Claude Debussy strongly objected the use of the word “Impressionism” to describe his music, it certainly had common grounds: titles related to nature, and music influenced by colors, landscapes, and other natural phenomena. In that sense, Debussy was also a precursor of ambient music. Norwegian ambient musician Geir Jenssen made several pieces of Debussy even more abstract for his Shenzhou album (under the moniker of Biosphere), staying true to the nature of Debussy’s work.

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8:04

Bonus: Be like Four Tet

Alright, alright. Claude Debussy's “Gymnopédie No. 1” is actually a cover of “Gymnopédie No. 3” by pianist and composer Erik Satie (which is also available at Tracklib). So this is a bonus, as we don’t want to cheat. We just had to share this piece of ingenious sampling by UK producer Four Tet.

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2:14

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