The technique of sampling is essentially a way of using sounds loops, often cut straight from another piece of music, in order to create new music.
Sampling began to find its way into popular music during the 60's when bands such as The Beatles began to use samples in their songs such as I am the Walrus and Yellow Submarine. However it was in the early days of hip-hop that the technique really began to become a dominant part of music production.
Musicians and producers would take small clips of sounds from other records, (usually a drum beat or break) and then loop the clip (or sample) to create the basis of a brand new track. Perhaps the most famous example of this is known as the 'amen break'.
First recorded in 1969 by funk soul outfit The Winstons, the track 'Amen, Brother' (which was itself a cover of an early gospel song), the solo drum break would go on to be used extensively in up-tempo electronic music, particularly drum & bass.
The use of samples to create new music has been hampered by both copyright issues and criticism of its musical worth. However, by the 90’s sampling had become a widely accepted tool in the musician’s arsenal, despite continued legal concerns.