The Most Influential Tools of Modern Music

the most influential tools of electronic music

A few weeks ago, we asked the question: What came first, the musician or the machine?

This week, we got an all new perspective on the subject with a great new article from Gear Patrol.

According to the mag, the expansion and evolution of electronic music styles can be traced alongside the technological advances in production tools. That is, after new product launches and updates, artists seem to find innovative and unique means of using the new tools at their disposal.

The article builds off this stance to explore the most influential tools of music throughout the past 40 years.

The writers at Gear Patrol break down the years’ most iconic music production tech into three basic categories: synthesizers, drum machines/samplers, and turntables/CDJs.

Did your favorites make the cut?

Synthesizers:

Minimoog

minimoog

First released in 1971, the Minimoog was the very first fully integrated synthesizer. This new technology overcame classic limitations with its groundbreaking portable design and supremely high sound quality.

The Minimoog’s smooth and versatile sounds are a staple in Kraftwerk‘s 1971 album, “Autobahn”

Roland TB-303

roland tb-303

Roland’s Transistorized Bass 303 was released in 1981 as a means to play bass accompaniments for solo guitarists. The 303 started getting seriuos face time when early Chicago house DJs began to experiment with its signature wonky bass sounds so characteristic of albums like Jesse Saunders‘ “On and On”

Drum Machines and Samplers

Roland TR-808 & TR-909

roland tr-808

Another 80’s Roland favorite, the Transistor Rhythm 808, was created to replicate the sound of a drum kit with up to 32 possible patterns. Shortly after, the Roland TR-909 succeeded the 808, raising the bar with digital samples for cymbals and hi-hats, as well as additional functionality that increased pattern capabilities up to 96 possible combinations.

As for the quirky synthpop sounds that we love in classics from artists like Yellow Magic Orchestra, we have the TR-808 to thank.

Akai S1000 and MPC Series

akai s1000 mpc

Just seven years after the TR-808 came the Akai S1000 sampler. The S1000 gave producers the ability to splice, crossfade, and trim music in new and improved CD quality. Then, another three years later, Akai’s release of their Music Production Center (MPC) sampling sequencer quickly gained a massive following. With features like sampling, manipulating, storing, and sequencing music, the MPC allowed for all new levels of production ease and efficiency.

Prefuse 73‘s early 2000’s glitch-hop abum, “One Word Extinguisher” is a classic sample of the Akai MPC’s wobbly grooves and funky samples throughout its highly structured pieces.

Turntables and CDJs

Technics SL-1200 Series & Pioneer CDJs

technics sl-1200

As Gear Patrol puts it:

The backbone of any DJ setup has always consisted of turntables and a mixer. A minimum of two decks are used to layer beats in real time, but great DJs can mix up to four.

Classic turntables like the Technics SL-1200 series have been a staple in DJ setups for nearly 40 years since they began production in 1972.

However, top-tier Pioneer CDJs have slowly but surely become the mainstream solution for DJs and Producers globally, coming as a simplified alternative for the heavier equipment and vinyls necessary to rock the classic turntables.

For more details and essential gear, visit Gear Patrol’s full article here.

Want to learn more about music tech? Try Mmmmaven’s Music Production and DJ Programs. It’s fun to learn with other people…

The Drum Machine that Revolutionised Music

tr-808

Roland’s TR-808 is one of the most iconic pieces of electronic music-making equipment in the world today, and if you’ve ever wondered how it got that way, The Guardian has just the article for you:

It was in production for only three years, and was a commercial disaster. So how did it end up becoming the instrument that still sounds like the future?

The congas ring cheekily, the cowbell plays a corroded chime, the snare is parched and cruel – and the bass drum, a hard bloom of air, is barely music at all. With these core sounds, abetted by a handful of others, a simple drum machine gave house, techno and hip-hop the language it still speaks today.

Head over to The Guardian for the full feature, which traces where, when and how the TR-808 became the world’s most well-known drum machine.

Want to make music using technology? That’s exactly what we teach inside of our lab.