Percussa micro super signal processor

Amidst renewed conversation about what drum machines should be – see heated comments – it’s enlightening to revisit the drum machine as marketed in 1982. This vintage Linn Electronics LM-1 “Drum Computer” ad captures a moment in the birth of the modern drum machine. Some of what’s desirable then remains desirable today. Others – “Real Drum Sounds” – are amusingly far less novel, looking back from far deeper into the digital age.

Real time programming, mixing functions, and friendly design, though, remain important – and you can thank designer Roger Linn and his LM-1 for the profound influence they’ve had on drum machine design. In fact, quite a bit of the personality of the LM-1’s front panel and programming approach remain in the imminent Dave Smith – Roger Linn collaboration, the Tempest.

What I find interesting is that the economy of the LM-1’s front panel could still offer something to someone making a new drum machine, whether it’s your humble Pd or Max for Live patch, an iPad/tablet app, or DIY hardware.

Looping back on another impassioned discussion from last week, it’s worth noting Roger’s background: in 1978, as he began the LM-1 design, he was – and is – a guitarist. It took a guitarist to help create the modern sampling and drum programming revolution. (Well, you wouldn’t have expected a drummer to do it, would you?)