What is a drum break?
The drum break has become synonymous with modern music but where did it start? For that we have to look back to a combination of 70’s soul records and 80’s Hip-Hop culture.
From the early 1970’s many soul and funk records included a section where only the drummer was playing. It’s this section, often only 4 bars long which would form the foundations of hip-hop culture, eventually leading to what we know as these amazing drum break samples.
Fast forward 10 years to the formation of what we consider a ‘DJ’. The best DJ’s would select these breaks and seamlessly manipulate two identical records to create an endless piece of music. As the break was about to end they would cue up an identical record with the same break, switching between the two. An early form of beat juggling this led to continuous pieces of music that MC’s could rap over.
It’s these famous breaks that would eventually form the foundations of Drum ‘n Bass, Hip-Hop, Jungle and Breakbeat to name a few.
The Amen Break – A Short History
Potentially the most famous of the breaks but certainly with saddest story.
The amen break has become the most sampled piece of music in history, forming the basis of so many great genres, especially Jungle & Dnb.
Devastatingly though, drummer Gregory Coleman never received a penny in royalties for his outstanding contribution to music. Coleman later died in 2006 after being homeless for a number of years. It has been quoted that Coleman had little knowledge of the impact his moment of drum wizardry had on the music industry.
The 2-step shuffle, exquisite ghost note work and rolling rhythms have been slowed, pitched, edited and speeded up for the last 40 years and are have formed the basis of the genres we know and love.
Check the video below to hear the original, slowed version and quicker and more familiar versions, taken from the 1969 track “Amen, Brother” by the soul group the Winstons.
Classic Breaks Of Note
James Brown – Funky Drummer
Who could forget this iconic 1970’s classic. The Funky Drummer break has gone into to become a staple of Hip-Hop and DnB, being famously sampled by everyone from Jay Z to Public Enemy, Mos Def and beyond.
The Incredible Bongo Band – Apache
This next beast needs no introduction. From the beautiful, dusty 70’s tone to those iconic bongo performances, the Apache break has become a stalwart of all that’s great about DnB, Hip-Hop & Breaks.
Our Favourite Break Inspired Samples
With sampling becoming frowned upon (and illegal), we think it’s crucial to provide royalty free drum break samples that capture the true essence of those iconic loops. Recorded in the same 70’s style as the originals, each of our live drum breaks packs captures that iconic tone but puts a fresh spin on it for extra flexibility. Our most treasured collection? Vintage Drum Breaks of course!
Vintage Drum Breaks
You can check the full pack HERE
Creating using the finest old school techniques, each one of these iconic loops harnesses the authentic tone and texture of a classic 70’s drum break. Think tape machines, 70’s mic selections, vintage spring reverbs and even a mono selection for guaranteed authenticity. Delightful!
Classic Breaks – Out In The Wild
Let’s look at some of the groundbreaking tracks that have been the direct result of these legendary drum break samples. Up first, mr Ronni Size with New Forms taken from his Mercury winning album ‘New Forms’.
Ronni Size – Amen Break specialist.
Source Direct – Call & Response.
Mos Def – Mathematics
Taken form the iconic Black On Both Sides album, this Hip-Hop roller sampled James Brown’s Funk Drummer but put a completely new spin on it – epic!