can I get an amen

February 21st, 2006

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.

… this comprehensive documentary on this infamous 6-second loop is fascinating to me, as during college in 1998, I created a bunch of fairly popular Mac OS 9 soundsets*; one of which, entitled “Jungle2Jungle” was based entirely around the “Amen Break”. It was cool.

Watch/listen to the video here.


* …the most inexplicably popular of which was the Mac OS 9 “Howler Monkey” soundset, which triggered the horrible, horrible sounds of Howler Monkeys every time the user clicked a window or opened a menu. The best feedback I got was an email from a man who lived deep in an actual jungle who doubted the veracity of my howler monkey samples (and rightfully so!) because “he heard howler monkeys… all the time… every day”.

4 Responses to “can I get an amen”

  1. Michael says:

    I really enjoyed listening to the “Amen Break,” a very interesting history.

    I do also remember the Howler Monkey xoundset…and as much as I regret to admit it, it was frequently screaming at me. I have lost the file over time and was wondering if you have a copy or know where I can get one.



  2. H. Munkii says:

    I a m a hoowler mukki. I was my howler u make in sample. I have lawyers now.

    U pai me.

    oo o o oo oo oooooooooooooooooooo oo o oo o o oo o oo o!

  3. Carrie says:

    Wah! That thing is awesome and scary. Much like the H.M. Soundset.