Another day another Linndrum article!


The Linndrum was in The Guardian


What are they? The first drum machines to feature digital sampling. Before the release of Linn’s LM-1 Drum Computer in 1980, early drum machines could only synthesise drum sounds out of bursts of white noise or sine waves. The LM-1 and Oberheim’s DMX sampled actual drum hits, which could be programmed and manipulated with lovely knobs.

Who uses them? The LM-1 was elite gear. Only 525 machines were ever made, and inventor Roger Linn managed to flog them by dragging around a little cardboard-box prototype to showbiz parties. Notching up pre-orders with Peter Gabriel, Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Wonder, the Drum Computer became a bourgeois must-have object, and was quickly put to use in hit records from the Human LeagueGary Numan, and, most notably, Prince. The DMX, released a year later, became synonymous with booming hip-hop: producer Davy DMX loved the machine so much he not only named himself after it (along with DMX Krew and, of course, DMX), but he built Run DMC‘s whole sound around it. Check out these Spotify playlists for the DMX and the LM-1.

How do they work? The Linn stored twelve 8-bit samples, which could be individually tuned: kick, snare, hi-hat, cabassa, tambourine, two toms, two congas, cowbell, clave and handclap (but no cymbals!). The DMX boasted 24 drum sounds and a bunch of pseudo-humanising gimmicks such as rolls and “flams“, as well as a pre-MIDI synchronisation doohicky.

Where do they come from? These machines were a huge leap on from the first stand-alone drum machine, the PAiA Programmable Drum Set, which was sold in 1975 as a build-your-own kit. Roger Linn credits Toto drummer Steve Pocaro as the man who first suggested the brainwave of sampling real drums on to a computer chip.

Why are they classic? The DMX and LM-1 established drum machines as credible, powerful instruments – previously they had been dismissed as toys.

What’s the best ever DMX/LM-1 song? Drum machine aficionados regard Prince as some sort of Hendrix of the LM-1; see his The Time classic, 777-9311. The crashing DMX in New Order’s Blue Monday takes the prize for Oberheim.”

::: IF :::