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.
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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.
The age-old adage, “be in the right place at the right time” leaves out the most important third element. “Be ready.” AnonXmous did what he had to do to make sure he put himself in the right place, ready for the right time. But long before that he invested countless hours honing his skills so that when those did converge serendipitously he would also be ready. And now he’s got three Grammy nominations and a Universal publishing deal to show for it.
AnonXmous is the creative mind behind Nicki Minaj’s biggest single to date (Anaconda), as well as records with Chris Brown, Timbaland, Fergie, and work on the best selling Empire soundtrack. To hear him speak of his accomplishments however, he’s just getting started. We sat down to hear his inspiring story and learn some clever techniques he has to stay creative and inspired himself when approaching new writing sessions.
Saying "Drum n' Bass" is practically as vague as saying Rock n' Roll. There's a world of difference between Jerry Lee Lewis and Gwar - even if they share some common heritage. Similarly, Liquid Drum n' Bass is a popular variant of the original Drum n' Bass styles coming out of the UK in the 90s. Liquid DnB fuses modern EDM production with the essence of classic DnB for an increasingly popular result.
Here, Ryan shows you how you can put together your own Liquid DnB drum sounds and perhaps most importantly, how you can tap into the Pro potential of Reason's mixer to get some seriously punchy drum sounds.