As part of my drive to explore modern instruments in a new music context I’ve become interested in using drum machines outside of their orthodox pop/techno/EDM roles. The appeal of drum machines for both myself and practitioners in EDM is the fact they failed miserably in their original intentions of emulating a live drummer- both the sounds and the playing was nothing like the real thing- and its this aspect that people actually like. Over the years with sampling technology they’ve got much closer to the real thing, but in many ways become less useful, partly because being neither one thing or the other presents problems with usage, and as such ‘realistic’ ones tend to be confined to rehearsal rooms for rock bands or on song demos.
However the original ticky-tacky sounds of early machines like the TR 808 or 909 have found their own usage, and as such, the sounds are much sampled and of late, reissued in updated hardware formats.
Its these sounds Im largely interested in because to me, they are another form of synthesizer, but with a different role. The early drum machines had this very simplistic nature of rhythm- they didnt swing, didnt do triplets very well (dividing was too precise) and couldnt really do humanistic ‘groove’. Its these very metronomic sound that interests me. So I put a question on both twitter and facebook to find modern composers who are using them. The response has generated some interesting stuff, of which I knew little, if anything of, before.
Heres what social media came up with
All of which are very interesting to me-