Leoni Fischer

Objects and Ideas

This project is  about a particular drum beat, the Amen Break. It has been used as a rythmic backdrop in all kinds of music since the 80s. The breakbeat might even have already entered the collective audiounconcious. It is a part of a song relea- sed in 1969 titled Amen Brother which was recorded by a band called The Winstons. It was one of the 100 top hits of 1969. After the popularity of the song was long gone, it was reas- sociated with the invention of the sampler in the 1980s, a machine that was particulary im- portant for the birth of Hiphop. With the sampler every sound could be recorded and used as part of a new composition. The Amen Break was one of the first drum samples to be experimented with. Later on Drum and Bass arised as a new style of music cenetred around the deconstruction of the Amen. An entire subculture formed around one loop based on 6 seconds from 1969. But where were The Winstons during all this? Perhaps Richard Spencer, a founding member of The Winstons who had left the music biz and had gotten a phd in poli- tical science didnt see any potential in the break beat apart from its underground fame. Also the culture of sampling grew faster than any copyright could follow. Sampling was seen as an artistic strategy to make new from old. Interesting enough, The Winstons never persued legal action against the use of the Amen during the past 20 years. Somehow the Amen had turned into a sort of public domain, in a cultural way. The story of the Amen Break shows that a cul- ture thats free to borrow and build upon the past is culturally richer than a controlled one. My project is a try to visually sample the Amen Break.


Bauhaus University Weimar 2017 supervised by Manuel Birnbacher the final results were exhibited at Studio Wägetechnik Weimar during the Summaery 2017