Soul of the Drum Machine

Have drum machines eliminated the need for drummers?

I could beat around the bush and hide my ultimate conclusion, but the answer really is NO. As with most technologies, when put to creative use drum machines can be just as soulful as a real drummer and, in the right hands, can take on a musical life of their own.

 “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.”

The now deceased, J Dilla aka Jay Dee, was a mastermind of this instrument. He achieved to do with a machine what a few did with “analog drums”, his beats sound groovy and soulful. Indeed, he changed the perception of music by sampling drums. It may sound curios, but nowadays, there are many drummers copying on acoustic drums what Jay Dee did with the machine.

But, are the drum machines quitting acoustic drums in the music business? NO.

Nevertheless, drum machines are not such a new deal, if we go back in time we can see it has a lot of history. “Most people credit Sly Stone’s use of a Maestro Rhythm-King MRK-2 on the 1971 No. 1 “Family Affair” as one of the defining early moments for programmed percussion. During the ‘70s, the devices worked their way into hits—Blondie’s “Heart Of Glass,” Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love,” Roxy Music’s “Dance Away”—and carved space in both explicitly regenerative genres like new wave and commercial juggernauts like disco. In the ‘80s, Prince, Michael Jackson, and Madonna all used drum machines. Hip-hop developed into a national force behind acts like Run DMC, LL Cool J, and the Beastie Boys; they had the toughest beats around, put together with drum machines.”

A list of the best drum machines of all time. From the fattest analogue machines to the iconic sample-based units and seminal early rhythm boxes: 

However, not all are machines. For instance, the very talented drummer Deantoni Parks. He plays acoustic drums as he were playing an electronic one without sampling, triggering…etc Just drums, real drums. He grew up listening to Krautrock and electronic music, therefore he is one of a kind.

With music, it is always the artist’s soul on display.


In the world today, the AKAI MPC, is the most used drum machine ever. Such a magic box.




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