Interpolation in music refers to the act of using a portion of a pre-existing song in a new composition, often as a way of paying homage or creating a new context for the original work. Unlike sampling, which typically involves directly copying a portion of a sound recording and incorporating it into a new recording, interpolation involves re-creating a portion of a song using new instrumentation, vocals, or other elements.
Interpolation can take many forms, ranging from subtle references to entire choruses or melodies. One example of interpolation is the use of the melody from the 1980s hit “Under Pressure” by Queen and David Bowie in the 1990s song “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice. In this case, Vanilla Ice’s song re-creates the melody of “Under Pressure” using different instrumentation and lyrics, but retains the same basic melody. Alicia Keys’ “Like the Sea” is another example of Interpolation that borrows the opening melody of the classical piece “Arabesque No. 1” composed by Claude Debussy’s .
While interpolation can be a way of paying tribute to a pre-existing work and creating something new, it’s important for artists to obtain permission and pay any necessary royalties to the original songwriters and publishers. This is particularly true if the interpolated portion of the song is a significant part of the new composition.
In contrast to interpolation, sampling in music involves directly copying a portion of a sound recording and incorporating it into a new recording. Sampling is often used in hip-hop, electronic music, and other genres to create new beats and textures. However, because sampling involves using a pre-existing sound recording, it can be subject to copyright laws and requires permission from the original copyright holder. More on sampling.