Who Sampled shows where you heard that tune before

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I admit it: I am an absolute sample junkie. Samples are songs, or parts of them, that are repurposed, cut, and edited to create new tunes. One of the most infamous examples is Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” borrowing liberally from Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure”. I love figuring out the less obvious samples, listening to the originals, and hearing how the new artist transformed the music.

Today’s samples often more obscure, which is why the new app Who Sampled is a must-have for music digging addicts. The solid user interface and integration into your music collection make it worthwhile.

The $2.99 iPhone app (Android coming soon) is an extension of the Who Sampled website. Launched in 2010, Who Sampled is a searchable crowd-sourced database organized by the genre, sampling artist, sampled artist, year, and other categories. For instance, the Otis Redding-sampling Jay-Z and Kanye West hit “Otis” can be found by searching for Jay-Z, Kanye West, or Otis Redding, and is listed under R&B or hip-hop genres. The “Otis” page has a video of the original Otis Redding song and the new Jay-Z and Kanye West song, and detailed times about when the sample is used in the new song so you can hear the transformation yourself.

The Who Sampled app takes the comprehensive website and applies it to your personal music collection. The app has three basic screens: Search, My Library, and Charts. Search lets you find a particular artist, group, or tune. Charts shows the highest-rated samples by Who Sampled users, the newest samples, and so on.

The My Library screen is by far the most valuable addition to Who Sampled’s archives. The app will scan your music collection (not just on your device, but also in the iTunes Match/iCloud backup) and make every song accessible. After scanning, the app gives you information on every song and every artist. Many digitally downloaded songs don’t come with linear notes, so you can now quickly find out what music was sampled in a song you just purchased.

Click on a song and Who Sampled will show you the number of samples in it, what songs sampled it, and other details, like remixes or covers of the tune. The next screen will give you a video of the song with time points of where the sampled area begins. Flick the screen and it will jump to a video of the sampled or sampling song and provide the same information. In short, it's a quick, intuitive way to hear a song before and after.

It’s easy to spend hours playing with Who Sampled app, though there are a few quirks. First, depending on the size of your library, the scan process can take several minutes, if not an hour or two—luckily it can work in the background. Second, as with the Who Sampled website, there may be broken links to videos if the YouTube, Vevo, or DailyMotion clip was moved or taken down. Finally, though the price is worth it for music fans, its surprising that a free website would charge three dollars for its mobile app. Quibbles aside, Who Sampled is one of the better music apps to come out this year. Highly recommended.

This story, "Who Sampled shows where you heard that tune before" was originally published by TechHive.

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