Electronic Music - The various tools of the Trade

Categories: Blog April 18, 2015 @ 4:16 AM 0 Comments      

Electronic Music - The various tools of the Trade

Since the dawn of electronic music a while in the late nineteenth or early last century, musicians and inventors happen to be coming up with creative new methods to manipulate sound and make music. These days, there's an astounding array of software and hardware available to any artist. The tools a musician chooses to make their music are as unique as his or her style. Below is an overview of some of the devices commonly used to produce electronic music: Talos Bloom

Audio samplers

Audio samplers are instruments that can record, store and playback sounds. They often include tools present with synthesizers such as filters, pitch-shifters, and oscillators. Usually samplers have a keyboard, sequencer, or some other kind of controller. Samplers are often used to replace real instruments by musicians on tight budgets, but can also be pushed to create new, innovative, and creative sounds.

Drum Machines

Drum machines are popular. They are popular in electronic and hip hop music. They are also often used during studio recordings when human drummers aren't available. The history of drum machines is very long, but they never really entered public consciousness until Roland introduced the TR-808 and TR-909 within the eighties. Since then, the beats from the TR-808 and TR-909 have become probably the most recognizable sounds in pop music.

Sound Modules

What distinguishes sound modules using their company electronic musical instruments is the lack of a playable interface. They should be paired with an external controller such as a midi keyboard, sequencer, or a trigger pad. Sound modules may be synthesizers, simple tone generators, digital pianos, samplers, plus more. Some, known as drum modules, are aimed at producing percussive sounds. Most sound modules accept midi input and are rack mountable. Some famous modules include the Roland MKS20 and the Yamaha TX16W.

Tabletop Synthesizers

Like sound modules, tabletop synthesizers sport a tiny form factor. Unlike modules, they add a compact controller. Their size and portability can be an advantage for touring musicians and those short on space. Despite their small size, they can pack an incredible sonic punch. People familiar with club and dance music may recognize the sound of the tabletop Access Virus synthesizer. Another popular tabletop synth is the Minimoog Voyager XL.

Audio Sequencers

Audio sequencers can trigger patterns of notes within a drum machine, sampler, or synthesizer. These sequencers are often referred to as step sequencers and so are usually monophonic. Sequencers may also be used to playback and record longer pieces of music, and arrange polyphonic material. These kind of sequencers can be found in production stations and other standalone hardware, but have largely migrated to software applications where they are often included as part of a DAW, or digital audio workstation. Talos Bloom

Production Stations
Production stations combine the strength of audio sequencers, drum machines, controllers, and samplers. These standalone devices can be all an artist has to make music. Oftentimes, they come pre-programmed with patterns and full of samples. The grooves of Akai's popular MPC series have unquestionably left their mark on rap music.

These days, computers are replacing lots of electronic instruments that used to be only available as stand-alone hardware. Oftentimes, a DAW includes software equivalents of all the hardware instruments mentioned in this article. Despite this fact, leading manufacturers continue to innovate and release new hardware instruments every year. This is good news for electronic musicians who now have almost unlimited choices about what tools they want to use to create their music.

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