Mark Ronson’s TED Talk: In Defense Of Sampling

DJ and producer Mark Ronson knows a thing or two about the art of sampling – starting off his TED talk on the topic with an all-sampled DJ routine with 15 other TED Talks as the source material. In his talk, Mark makes a strong argument that sampling isn’t and has never been about copying music, but rather adding to the ongoing narrative of it.

Sampling isn’t about “hijacking nostalgia wholesale,” says Mark Ronson. It’s about inserting yourself into the narrative of a song while also pushing that story forward. In this mind-blowingly original talk, watch the DJ scramble 15 TED Talks into an audio-visual omelette, and trace the evolution of “La Di Da Di,” Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick’s 1984 hit that has been reimagined for every generation since.

Watch the 17 minute TED Talk below and enjoy:


mark ronsonmashupsProductionremixsamplingted talk
Comments (5)
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  • fcm

    Jeez, I really admire the guy’s production. I mean, who can question Back to Black? But as a speaker…… sounds like a stoned teenager with a cold! This is more a lesson in how to ramble on stage than on sampling.

  • Bis

    Two people decided to stand up and clap? Bravo, TED.
    I liked his discussion.

  • RBX

    An interesting take on sampling by someone in the industry.

    Technically speaking the first commercially available digital sampler (the Fairlight CMI) was released in 1979. This is well before Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh’s La Di Da Di was released in 1984 unlike Ronson’s claim. In all fairness, the CMI did cost an arm and a leg so my bet would have been that Slick and Fresh would have just opted for a couple of microphones and a four-track tape recorder to lay down their track instead.

    Everyone interested in the ‘validity’of sampling should also check out “Everything is a Remix” which you can watch for free on Vimeo:

  • Brent Silby Maestro B

    It would have been nice if he extended this to draw a comparison to how the classical composers produced their original music. They too, built on what came before. In those days it was called “transformative imitation”. Handel was a master of it. In fact, the measure of worth of a piece of music in his time was the extent to which it contained familiar elements repackaged in a new context. Today we call this “remix”.