Date of Award

Summer 8-11-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Music


School of Music

First Advisor

Samantha Inman, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Stephen Lias, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Court Carney, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

James Adams, M.M.


The late James Yancey, known by his producer name of Jay Dee or J Dilla, is considered by many hip-hop scholars and musicians to be one of the most influential producers of the genre. His techniques of sampling are some of the most creative and intricate in the world of hip-hop beat making and are viewed as virtuosic in their own right. By analyzing his compositional process through selected tracks on his seminal (and final) album Donuts, I will be exploring how Dilla used over seventy-five samples from a variety of music genres and artists to create a sonic collage that is one of the most influential instrumental works of hip-hop genre. This analysis will demonstrate the sampling techniques of J Dilla, illustrating methodologies for analyzing specific sampling techniques. Out of the thirty-one tracks on the album Donuts, I will be analyzing several tracks within the three main chapters of the thesis: “Workinonit,” “Mash,” “Time: Donut of the Heart,” “Glazed,” and “Don’t Cry.” By applying specific methodologies of analysis to specific tracks on Donuts, I highlight the complexities and nuances involved in transforming the original sampled audio into an entirely new piece of music.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Included in

Music Theory Commons



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