Blog

Drum Machinology 101

Posted Nov. 14, 2017, 10:20 a.m.

From the hip hop’s immortal 808 kick to the sound of the mighty Linndrum, drum machines have provided the pulse and energy in electronic music for more than 40 years and we keep getting hypnotized by the robotic grooves they provide.

The history of the drum machine actually goes back all the way to the 1930s, when Leo Theremin (yes, that Theremin) built a sine wave based rhythm instrument called the Rhythmicon. The size of a refrigerator and notoriously hard to use, it wasn’t a hit and it would take another 30 years before rhythm machines actually started to come out as products. Early examples such as the Wurlitzer Side Man used vacuum tubes for sound generation and mechanical rotating discs for sequencing and they didn’t make a huge impact on music when they came out. Gradually, drum machines shrunk in both size and price with the adoption of solid state electronics and products such as the Donca-Matic range from Keio-Giken (that would later become Korg) in the late 60s.

Drum machines were initially thought of as accompaniment tools that practice your playing to when a drummer wasn’t available and indeed they didn’t really see much use in recordings from the era. In the early 70s drum machines started to appear in pop productions with Sly & the Family Stone scoring the first #1 featuring a drum machine: Family Affair.

As electronic pop music started to evolve, drum machines became part of the sound and not a novelty. With more advanced products such as the Roland CR78, artist could program their own rhythm patterns and the electronic rhythms could be heard on more and more pop records.

In 1980, the Linn LM-1 came out. It was a pricey unit at almost $5000, but it offered sampled drum sounds and helped define the sound of the 80s as we know it today. Ironically, the most iconic machines of the era: the Roland TR-808 and TR-909 didn’t make a huge impact when they first appeared. They were analog drum machines (apart from the hi-hats and cymbals in the 909) and didn’t sound as modern as their sampled counterparts that came out around the same time. The 808 & 909 route to legendary status went via pawn shops and classified ads where a new generation of hip hop beatmakers and budding house producers could get their hands on these machines for peanut money.

Looking to add the sound of iconic drum machines to your beats? Reason’s Redrum was designed to mimic the 80s legends both in sound and workflow. And the mighty Kong Drum Designer lets you craft your own synthetic drum sounds. The Propellerhead shop is a gold mine for these sought-after sounds. Rack Extensions to emulate classic drum machines, drum loop libraries constructed with the legends from years gone by - take a look at which of these top drum machines will work for you.

Don’t have Reason? Start with a free 30 day trial and see what Reason can do for your music-making.

 

Posted Nov. 14, 2017, 10:20 a.m.

Tutorials

Beatmaking in Reason

Posted Sept. 12, 2017, 10:26 a.m.

Want to learn more about beat making in Reason? Let’s take a look at three distinct routes you can take in Reason to reach beat making Nirvana.

Get started with beatmaking in Reason!

 

Tutorials

#ReasonQuickTip

Posted June 20, 2017, 9 a.m.

Over the last months we've been posting these #ReasonQuickTip videos on our social media channels and due to popular demand, we've now compiled them in one space. This YouTube playlist will be updated whenever a new #ReasonQuickTip gets posted so be sure to bookmark this page!

If you want to share your best tip with us, just tweet us or write to us on Facebook or Instagram! Maybe your tip will be our next video?

Artist stories

Artist Feature: DJ Pierre

Posted April 19, 2017, 10:54 a.m.

Here’s a thought experiment… how many musicians can you name that invented an entire musical genre from a single song which the genre even takes its name from? Is there a song called Jazz? Did someone write a track called Blues? No. That unique honor is reserved for Phuture and their song Acid Tracks, from which the global cultural movement of Acid House was born.

DJ Pierre sat down to tell us the stories of his early days, show us around his latest work, and share some of the new talent and artistry he's nurturing in his creative incubator space at Afro Acid Digital in Atlanta.

Try Reason free for 30 days!

Follow DJ Pierre on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, Spotify.

Tutorials

808 Bass Lines

Posted March 17, 2017, 10:25 a.m.

Take a listen to Hip Hop, Trap, Pop, EDM, or just about any other genre these days and you'll hear the distinct tones of the "808 Bass" - a term used to describe tuned and pitched sub-bass lines whose origins come from a classic drum machine, not a bass synth. But as standard as the 808 Bass is, the way everyone makes them these days is not quite as standard. That's one reason why 808 Bass sounds and bass lines are something of a mystery for aspiring producers and beat makers.

In part one of a two part series, we take a look at the origins of the 808 Bass and the philosophy that goes into creating custom patches and writing 808 bass lines.

To learn more about Reason:
http://www.propellerheads.se/reason