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Since the mid-1980s commercial digital samplers have become widespread. The idea of musical instruments which have no sounds of their own is, however, much older, not just in the form of analogue samplers like the Mellotron, but in ancient myths and legends from China and elsewhere. This history of both digital and analogue samplers relates the latter to the early musique concrète of Pierre Schaeffer and others, and also describes a variety of one-off systems devised by composers and performers.
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