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Rebecoming analogue : groove, breakbeats and sampling

Oliver, Rowan Anthony


Rowan Anthony Oliver



In this thesis I address two related questions: how does groove work in breakbeats, and how might it enable musical participation across time and space?

In order to do this, I analyse breakbeats as they are heard in their original funk context and then in various subsequent genres for which they provide a percussive backbone via the process of recontextualization made possible by digital sampling. From this seemingly narrow focus, more broadly useful ideas about groove emerge and I discuss these in relation to current groovological thought. Of particular significance within my findings is the often‐overlooked role which timbre plays in groove.

I propose that the groove in breakbeats operates as a result of timbral, as much as temporal, factors, and that breakbeats can therefore be seen to embody the complementary concepts of Wilson’s heterogeneous sound ideal and Small’s musicking. By exploring groove, breakbeats and sampling from a range of perspectives I show that the potent conceptual combination of musicking and the heterogeneous sound ideal accounts for the perennial appeal of breakbeats as a fundamental building block in contemporary popular music.

In order to explore these ideas, following initial chapters that establish a theoretical framework, each successive chapter then deals with a particular manifestation of the breaks. Overall, this structure builds a kaleidoscopic conceptual picture that is appropriate to the multi--‐faceted nature of groove and the enduring versatility of breakbeats.

[Note: audio samples available with hard copy of thesis only.]


Oliver, R. A. (2015). Rebecoming analogue : groove, breakbeats and sampling. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date May 6, 2016
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2023
Keywords Music
Public URL
Additional Information Department of Music, The University of Hull
Award Date Mar 1, 2015


Thesis (2.8 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2015 Oliver, Rowan Anthony. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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