WDJ Pro Quick Guide to Drum Machines
A drum machine is an electronic musical instrument designed to imitate the sound of drums, cymbals, other percussion instruments and often basslines.
The drum machine is one of the most effective musical inventions of our time. It’s affordable, easy to use and ruthless in its capabilities. Drum machines were originally intended for use as an accompanist for organ players who didn’t have a live drummer to help them keep time. Nobody could have predicted the way drum machines would go on to transform mainstream music. The early analog drum machines fell into the hands of sonic visionary Sly Stone, who called it “the Funk Box.” Roland’s models took drum machine technology to another level by allowing producers to program and store their own rhythm patterns, each of which could be manipulated to suit the needs of all sorts of artists and DJ’s.
Traditional analogue drum machines are typically found in hardware based studios and those lucky enough to own an original Roland TR model will probably take them to the grave. However, with the introduction of new digital versions of old classics and affordable analog models readily available, they are growing in popularity and can be found in project/bedroom studios everywhere. Also now massively popular with live electronic artists they can be found more and more often alongside CDJs and laptops in many DJ booths.
It really depends on your workflow and your background as a musician or producer/DJ. Drum machines are thought of as creative tools as they provide the ability to modify sounds that match ideas right out of your imagination. They are considered easy to play and programme and you don’t have to be a drummer or a professional musician to lay down patterns and sounds.
Methods for programming drum machines vary by product. On most units it can be done in real time: the user creates drum patterns by pressing the trigger pads as though a drum kit were being played; or using step-sequencing: the pattern is built up over time by adding individual sounds at certain points by placing them, as with the 16 bar-step sequence bar
Drum machines are a quick and fun way to programme and record your own ideas whether using it as a stand alone unit or in conjunction with your DAW software. They come in different sizes and functionality; some are really easy to use whilst more complicated drum machines need a lot more time but can produce a much wider variety of creative outcomes.
Top 3 WDJ Pro tools:
The newest novation groove box is so much more than a drum machine but its simplicity, portability and wealth of options make it an all round creative instrument. It’s a modeled synth with drum machine sequencer that is easily tweakable. Circuit is designed to inspire. It’s a standalone box that will have you making electronic music in minutes. Hit some pads, tweak the knobs and your track will start to emerge, all locked in time and key. Play around with effects, patterns and sounds in real time, to produce your track, brimming with fat grooves and beats.
- 2-part Nova-heritage analogue-modelled synthesiser
- 4-part drum machine
- 4×8 grid of RGB, velocity-sensitive sequencer pads
- Step sequence or build live
- Up to 128 steps of synth and drum patterns
- Delay and reverb effects
- 32 slots for creating, saving and playing tunes without a laptop
- Compact and battery powered
- Built-in speaker
Pro tip: Use the free Isotonik editor to remap the 8 macro knobs to synth or drum parameters of your choice to customise your sound.
The Aira TR-8 is a performance rhythm machine that melds the legendary sound and vibe of the TR-808 and TR-909 with features and functions for the modern age. Genre-defining sounds, classic effects, unprecedented live pattern manipulation, and solid, intuitive performance controls. With the authentic tone and character of the original units and with new sound tweaking capabilities inspired by legions of users, the TR-8 breathes new life into the sounds we all know and love. Heard on almost every big electronic track since its release.
- Mix and match 808/909 kits
- 16 stunning kits made up of 11 instrument types
- Tap Tempo button and continuous Fine and Shuffle adjustment knobs
- Control the intensity of the Accent function with a dedicated knob
- Per-step reverb and delay effects with dedicated knobs
- 7 segment, 4 character LED display and 16 per-step pads with bold, full-color LEDs
Pro tip: Each individual channel on the TR8 can be routed into the mixer channels of Ableton Live for recording, processing or live performance setups.
The volca beats gives real analog sounds created with reference to classic rhythm machines. It is the smaller version of the roland drum machine but just as powerful and precise with creating great drum sounds and patterns.
- Powerful analog drum sounds
- Real analog sounds created with reference to classic rhythm machines
- Six editable analogue parts with one knob per function for easy editing
- Maximum effect from minimal parameters – a unique advantage of analog
- PCM sound engine expands possibilities when used with analog sounds
- Loop sequencer distilled from the Electribe series
- Electribe-style 16-step sequencer with eight memory patches
- Stutter function generates repeated triggers that dramatically change the sequence
- Active Step function generates new bass lines by removing or inserting steps.
- Step Jump function instantly plays only the step you’re pressing
- Convenient functions for incredible ease of use
- Sync In and Out allows clock sync of multiple instruments from the volca Series as well as Korg’s Monotribe
- MIDI In for note entry, plus external sync and control from your DAW
Pro tip: Motion record while your recording and changing pitch