Drum Machines



- First electric drum machine

- 16 different rhythms 

- Leon Theremin and Henry Cowell

- 1931

- Electric photo receptors respond to light being passed through holes in a rotating cogwheel (like those old timey moving pictures)

- Sounds like a lot of chickens

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Chamberlin Rhythmate

- First drum machine to go into production 

- Magnetic tape with a movable tape-head which, when pressed, triggers a pre-recorded drum sound

- (same principle behind the Mellotron, the idea was bought from Mr Chamberlin by Mellotronics)

- Harry Chamberlin


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Wurlitzer Sideman

- First comercially SUCESSFUL drum machine

- Produced by the wurlitzer comapny

- 1959

- Motor-driven wheel operated contact points which drove preset drum patterns using valve technology (???)

- Often used with or incoporated into Wurlitzer organs, allowing musicians to play with a beat

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Rhythm Synthesiser & Bandito the Bongo Artist

- 1960 and 1963 respectivley 

- Designed by Raymond Scott (innovator, engineer, composer, sucessful musician, etc)

- Scott was a nocternal nerd who built drum machines, sequencers and synths in his bedroom and made strange scene ambeint music like some kind of eldritch music tech man

- While not well recieved at the time, his instrumental recording series "Soothing Sounds For Babies" was  a pioneering step into ambeint music

- He also composed for disney cartoons and designed the precursor to the electronic sequencer

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SeeBurg Rhythm Prince and Select-A-Rhythm

- 1960

- Rhythm Prince was the first desk top drum machine 

- Joint venture between Seeburg Corp and Gulbransen


- 1964

- Select-A-Rhythm was the first fully solid state drum machine

- Due to it's size it was often built in to home organs

- A direct follow on of the Rhythm Prince adding features like More Keys to access the Increased Number of drum presets

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Ace Tone Fr-1 Rhythm Ace

- 1965

- inspired by the Select-A-Rhythm

- wholly solid state, several keys to access preset patterns

- drum sounds made with four oscillators

- again, incoporated into home organs

- very polular, mass produced 

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Eko Compute Rhythm

- 1972

- Expesnsive, only used by eleite aristocracy musicians (Jean-Michel Jarre, etc)

- has a seperate sixteen stage sequenver for six different drum sounds

- each drum sound has its own volume control (+ a simple master volume and speed control)

- 1/4 jack sockets used to set up the sequenver mode and trigger, start or stop the sequenver via an external device

- can be heard on Jean Michel Jarre's 'Oxygene'

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PAiA Programmable Drum Set

- PAiA not to be confused with the word 'papia'

- 1975

- possibly the first programable drum set

- Famously used by Peter Gabriel (millionare, multi-award winning, music tech pioneering dude) on early solo albums

- Drum sounds were completely synthesised using oscillators and filters, no recordings or samples used at all

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Roland CR-78

- 1978 

- first to use a micro processor 

- very popular

- consits of 34 pre-programmed drum patterns and 14 drum sounds

- 2 bar step sequenver used, some editing of patterns is possible

- for the first time ever, edited patterns can be saved

- pattens can be externally triggered

- used wiedly by variety of artists (Underworld, Gary Numn, Phil Collins, Blondie, OMD)

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Linn LM-1

- Not to be confused with the popular abreviation of Lin Manuel Miranda's name, LMM

- 1980

- Created by drum machine legend, Roger Linn (some say that he personally straight up murdered the Roland company and saved the drum machine kingdom. Keep that rivalry in mind.)

- first drum machine to use digital samples of acoustic drums

- 13 seperate,e ditable drum sounds with their own mixer

- originally cost nearly $5,000 so only eleite musicians (inc. Stevie Wonder, Fleetwood Mac) could afford it

- massive influence on following drum machines

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Roland 808

- 1980, rival of Linn LM-1

- 16- step sequenver and ability to store 32

- designed as a tool for studio musicians to do demos on rather than an instrument in itself

- integral part of the development of hiphop

- released a few months after the LM-1, was considered inferior due to its synthesiesd drum sounds

- although these synthed sounds worked to the advantage of artists like the beastie boys, marvin gaye and Afrika Bambaataa

- at $1195 it was significantly cheaper than the LM-1 and therefore more readily available to musicians 

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Oberheim DMX

- 1981

- digital, programable drum machine

- like LM-1 used samples of acoustic drums

- known to be easy to operate, 8 outputs, ability to save 100 patterns and 50 songs

- capable of groove, fills, flams and weird time signitures

- like 808  was widely used by hip hop artists, as well as new wave, synth pop and other genres (artists like New Order, Run-D MC, Mike Oldfield, The Police, Madness, Eurythmics)

- at $2895 it was more expensive than 808 but still cheaper than LM-1

- keep in mind this was when you could take your whole fam out to et on $5 and still have money left over for the theatre and popcorn after (its not, $1 today was about $3 then, but whatever you get the picture.)

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Cheetah Marketing SpecDrum

- does this not sound like the ultimate consumerism drum mahcine

- 1986

- noted for inexpensive nature and function as part of a synclair spektrum home computer (a simple addition to any home computer! like the rasberry pi of drum machines! Maybe!)

- priced at £29.95 

- similar sounds to the LM-1 but fewer voices and editing functions

- Patterns and songs were saved to an external cassette tape

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