drum machine called an electronic musical instrument with which you can create, edit and save certain repetitive rhythmic patterns – the so-called drum loops. Other names for the instrument are rhythm machine or rhythm computer. At its core, it is a module in which the timbres of various percussion instruments are programmed. The drum machine is used in various musical genres: first of all, in electronic music (hip-hop, rap), it has also become widespread in pop music, rock and even jazz.
Rhythm machine prototypes
The most distant predecessor of the rhythm computer is the music box. It was created in Switzerland in 1796, used for entertainment, it was possible to play popular melodies with it. The device of the box is quite simple – with the help of a special winding mechanism, the movement of the roller, on which there were small pins, was started. They touched the teeth of a steel comb, thus extracting sound after sound and reproducing a melody. Over time, they began to produce interchangeable rollers so that you could diversify the sound of the box with other compositions.
The beginning of the 1897th century was the era of the birth of electromusic. At this time, a huge number of electromechanical tools were designed and created. One of the first was the telharmonium, created in 150. An electrical signal appeared in it through the use of almost XNUMX dynamos, and instead of a speaker, loudspeakers were used in the form of a horn. It was also possible to transmit the sound of the first electric organ over the telephone network. Later, the manufacturers of the first electronic musical instruments began to embed a module in them that allows you to complement the game with an automatic rhythm. The ability to control it came down to choosing a musical style and adjusting the tempo.
The first drum machines
The official birth date of rhythm machines is 1930. It was created by the Russian scientist L. Theremin in collaboration with G. Cowell. The work of the machine was to reproduce the sounds of the required frequency. By pressing and combining various keys (outwardly resembling a greatly shortened piano keyboard), it was possible to obtain a variety of rhythmic patterns. In 1957, the Rhythmate instrument was released in Europe. In it, rhythms were played using fragments of a magnetic tape. In 1959, Wurlitzer developed a commercial rhythm computer. He could reproduce the sounds of 10 different musical instruments, and the principle of his work was based on the use of vacuum tubes. In the late 1960s, Ace Tone, now known as Roland, released the FR-1 Rhytm Ace. The drum machine played 16 different rhythms and also allowed them to be compiled. Since 1978, devices with the function of recording rhythmic patterns began to appear on the market of electronic musical instruments – Roland CR-78, Roland TR-808 and Roland TR-909, and the last 2 models are very popular today.
The advent of digital and combined rhythm computers
If until the end of the 1970s all drum machines had an exclusively analog sound, then in the early 80s digital devices appeared and began to be actively produced that supported samples (digitized recordings of acoustic instruments). The very first of them was the Linn LM-1, later other companies launched the production of similar tools. The already mentioned Roland TR-909 was one of the first combined rhythm computers: it contained cymbal samples, while the sound of all other percussion instruments remained analog.
Drum machines spread rapidly, and soon almost all companies involved in the development and creation of new musical instruments began to actively produce these electronic devices. With the development of the computer industry, virtual analogues of drum machines also appeared – programs that allow you to create and edit rhythms, add your own samples, set a huge number of parameters, up to the size of the room and the placement of microphones in space. However, traditional, hardware rhythm machines are still actively used in music.