Amen | Bleader

Monday, February 26, 2007

Amen

Posted By on 02.26.07 at 03:06 PM

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Nate Harrison's "Can I Get an Amen?" has been around for a little while, but I just ran across it again the other day and it's still fascinating. It's supposed to be part of an art installation that "attempts to bring into scrutiny the techno-utopian notion that 'information wants to be free,'" but it's actually better on its own as a documentary. Its subject is a short drum break in an otherwise obscure 60s funk track by the Winstons called "Amen, Brother" that has been sampled hundreds of times. By now the Amen break is so ubiquitous that it should maybe count as one of the basic elements of hip-hop and dance music—the postmodern equivalent of the G-C-D-C chord progression. It's interesting to hear Harrison discuss how and maybe why the former members of the Winstons have let musicians run wild and free with the Amen break, without any lawsuits attached, and how that freedom has given the song almost legendary status. You may never have heard the name Gregory Clyvester Coleman, but I'm sure you know his work.

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