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Naxos Brings Classical Music to Contemporary Beats
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Naxos Brings Classical Music to Contemporary Beats

Countless artists such as Nas, EPMD, Mobb Deep, Kanye West, and Wu-Tang Clan have previously found their way into dusty crates of classical symphonies. Yet, there’s still a vast archive of untouched gold in classical music. Naxos Records is a good label to start digging, as the world’s largest distributor of classical, jazz and world music. Including iconic works by the likes of Bach, Mozart, Chopin, and Haydn.

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What is your view on music sampling in general, from the perspective of Naxos?

When artists choose our recordings, they’re acknowledging that we captured the human element of music. There’s a time and a place for instrument patches and in-the-box sounds, but there’s no substitute for the sound of a real string quartet or a full percussion section.

Do you feel like the art of sampling is very distant from classical music? Or do you see any parallels between the both of them?

Genre labels can be too narrow. I like the term “art music”, because it embodies the intent of the composer. The term “classical music” tends to be accompanied by a sense of antiquity, when in fact art music is made every day. It’s created by living, breathing people. I see a lot of common ground between sample-based artists and classical composers.

When both worlds meet through sampling, creativity is boundless! I’ve heard recordings that sample a classical theme and elaborate on it, and I’ve heard recordings that render the original sample unrecognizable. They’re all part of the story of music.

“Tracklib works to remove a legal barrier. And in turn, bring potential masterpieces to the public.”

—Nick Floyd (Manager, Licensing & Library Services at Naxos Records)
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Washington Post recently published a feature stating “In a time of uncertainty, classical music provides a sense of permanence.” How do you feel about this, in this day and age?

I think it’s a beautiful sentiment. During the first few weeks of quarantine, classical music was the only genre to increase streams on the popular DSPs. I have to think that this music serves a deep purpose. Classical music can tap into the spirit and ask the listener to consider two things: “What was?” and “What will be?” I think those are two questions that people are asking themselves these days. As the world changes and our viewpoints grow, we can look to classical music for that sense of permanence.

How do you look at Tracklib and its potential in the music industry in this day and age?

Tracklib helps artists to fulfill their vision and share the end product with the world. The issue of legal sampling hasn’t always been this easy to navigate. One of the most groundbreaking sample records is of course De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising. You won’t find it on any streaming platform, and you can’t buy an official, in-print copy of the album. Why? Because there were a high number of unlicensed samples. Tracklib works to remove that legal barrier. And in turn, bring potential masterpieces to the public.

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How do you think Tracklib can change the way people sample?

Tracklib can expose producers to music they wouldn’t have sought out otherwise. To the uninitiated, classical music is intimidating and full of complicated names like Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky and Beethoven. Additionally, it’s hard to search for classical music when you don’t know the name of the piece. Tracklib’s search and browse interfaces make all of that simpler.

What music from your archives would you recommend to producers to sample? Why, and for what type of track?

I don’t think I’d recommend a specific track, but I would encourage producers to get familiar with a specific sound they like. If you’re into Chopin’s Nocturne but you think those pieces are overused by other producers, educate yourself on Chopin’s contemporaries and those who he influenced. Classical music is rewarding because its history is rich, and there are so many gems to be found. You may fall in love with the next recording you hear...


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