Session 3: Drum Machines

Below are resources from the second session of the Digital Music Production Workshops at Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute in partnership with Building Beats.


Drum Machine

“A drum machine, also referred to as a drum pad, 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 purely electronic music. They are also a common necessity when session drummers are not available or desired.”


Beats Per Minute. In music, the numbers of beats in a minute in a song determines the song tempo.


"A sampler, in ultra-simplistic terms, is basically a glorified tape recorder. Used primarily in electronic music, the sampler allows music to be made out of any sound recorded by the user, rather than relying on tones generated by oscillators, computer chips, white noise or other synthesizer technology."


"A metronome is any device that produces regular, metrical ticks (beats, clicks) — settable in beats per minute. These ticks represent a fixed, regular aural pulse; some metronomes also include synchronized visual motion (e.g. pendulum-swing).The metronome is used by musicians to help keep a steady tempo as they play, or to work on issues of irregular timing, or to help internalize a clear sense of timing and tempo. The metronome is also often used by composers as a standard tempo reference, to indicate the intended tempo for the piece. The metronome dates from the early 19th century."



The Drum Machine

  1. Watch: Amen Break - Normal, Fast, and Slow Version

  2. Watch: The World's Most Important 6-sec Drum Loop

  3. Read: A Brief History of the Drum Machine

  4. Watch: Araab Muzik - A Milli By Beatmaker in Akai MPC5000

  5. Watch: Jeremy Ellis performing on MASCHINE

  6. How has the drum machine developed over the years?  Specifically, think about which developments have moved the drum machine from a piece of equipment that could churn out a few variations, to an instrument that can be played and even used to improvise during a live performance?

  7. What are the drawbacks of using a drum machine emulator on an iPad vs. using a physical piece of equipment?  What are the benefits?


Spotify Playlist

YouTube Playlist


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Digital music workshops produced by Carnegie Hall in partnership with Building Beats are supported by the Hive Digital Media Learning Fund in the New York Community Trust.


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