November 11, 2013
The Immortal Soul of the Drum Machine

Joe Mansfield really likes drum machines. The record producer and founder of hip-hop reissue label Get On Down has amassed a collection of about 150 of them, 75 of which are on display in his forthcoming book Beat Box: A Drum Machine Obsession.
The word “obsession” comes with negative connotations—suggesting single-mindedness, obscurity, and going too far—and its presence in the book’s title gives Mansfield’s collection a hint of self-deprecation. Of course, drum machines, in some circles, also have negative connotations: supposedly soulless replacements for the act of live rhythm creation.
But flip through Beat Box (out December 3), and you might start to wonder why more people aren’t obsessed with drum machines—why they aren’t as commonly mythologized as, say, the guitar. The book offers a striking, visual reminder of the drum machine’s deep and positive influence on a huge swath of musical history, of its legitimacy as a “real instrument,” and of its value as a quintessentially American innovation.
Beat Box opens with an important warning, instructing readers to dispense with Luddite prejudices: “A drum machine is an electronic musical instrument designed to imitate the sound of drums or other percussion instruments. They are used in a variety of musical genres, not just electronic music. They are also a common necessity when session drummers are not available or desired.” It’s patient, but firm. If you’re one of those “organic” music types who demands to listen to a full band in a room—maybe someone who loved Dave Grohl’s 2012 Grammy acceptance speech—back off.
Read more. [Image: Flickr / Brandon Daniel]

The Immortal Soul of the Drum Machine

Joe Mansfield really likes drum machines. The record producer and founder of hip-hop reissue label Get On Down has amassed a collection of about 150 of them, 75 of which are on display in his forthcoming book Beat Box: A Drum Machine Obsession.

The word “obsession” comes with negative connotations—suggesting single-mindedness, obscurity, and going too far—and its presence in the book’s title gives Mansfield’s collection a hint of self-deprecation. Of course, drum machines, in some circles, also have negative connotations: supposedly soulless replacements for the act of live rhythm creation.

But flip through Beat Box (out December 3), and you might start to wonder why more people aren’t obsessed with drum machines—why they aren’t as commonly mythologized as, say, the guitar. The book offers a striking, visual reminder of the drum machine’s deep and positive influence on a huge swath of musical history, of its legitimacy as a “real instrument,” and of its value as a quintessentially American innovation.

Beat Box opens with an important warning, instructing readers to dispense with Luddite prejudices: “A drum machine is an electronic musical instrument designed to imitate the sound of drums or other percussion instruments. They are used in a variety of musical genres, not just electronic music. They are also a common necessity when session drummers are not available or desired.” It’s patient, but firm. If you’re one of those “organic” music types who demands to listen to a full band in a room—maybe someone who loved Dave Grohl’s 2012 Grammy acceptance speech—back off.

Read more. [Image: Flickr / Brandon Daniel]

  1. heezyduzit reblogged this from theatlantic
  2. ohwhoknows reblogged this from theatlantic and added:
    The Immortal Soul of the Drum Machine
  3. industrialbeat reblogged this from industrialbeat
  4. everythingbeforeyou reblogged this from theatlantic
  5. letgoat reblogged this from theatlantic
  6. samuelssong reblogged this from theatlantic
  7. db888888 reblogged this from theatlantic
  8. mrclarkehistory reblogged this from theatlantic
  9. williamvpruett55 reblogged this from theatlantic
  10. pizzadimierda reblogged this from theatlantic
  11. hano137 reblogged this from theatlantic
  12. rubencampos reblogged this from theatlantic
  13. upatable36e reblogged this from theatlantic
  14. rudyscuriocabinet reblogged this from 8piu30
  15. clayman reblogged this from theatlantic
  16. teabonics-fb reblogged this from theatlantic and added:
    A drum machine has its uses but attempting to call it a “real instrument” is ludicrous. Anyone can pick up a drum...
  17. pasky reblogged this from theatlantic
  18. quetzalcoatls reblogged this from theatlantic
  19. sosungalittleclodofclay reblogged this from theatlantic
  20. ssavanimal reblogged this from theatlantic