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A sample in general is a part of the total, such as one individual or a set of individuals from a population (of people or things), a small piece or amount of something larger, a number of function values of a function, or part of a song.

Sample is a term often used in statistics and scientific work that makes use of statistics, such as biology and psychology. See statistical sample.

An analog signal is generally sampled at regular intervals in order to digitise it. The Nyquist-Shannon sampling theorem dictates that this should occur at not less than twice the highest frequency in the sampled waveform. Typically, an analog anti-aliasing filter is applied before sampling to ensure that this is the case. If frequencies higher than half the sampling frequency remain, aliasing will occur, with these frequencies being wrapped around into frequencies within the sampled frequency range.

As a result of digital sampler technology based on this principle, in music a sample is any sound played back from a sampler, especailly when it is part of one song used in another, for instance the use of the drumline from Led Zeppelin's "When the Levee Breaks" in songs by the Beastie Boys, Mike Oldfield and Erasure. "Samples" in this sense occur often in hip hop and R&B, but are becoming more common in other music, as well.

See also Sampling (music).

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