When the first drum machines hit the market in the 1950s, they must have felt like the future. Imagine that—a robotic drummer that does exactly what you tell him to, and doesn’t get loaded after the show. Of course, the human drummer never quite went out of style, but drum machines changed music forever.
In his new book Beat Box: A Drum Machine Obsession, Joe Mansfield traces the history of the boxes, from their barebones analog origins as machines designed for simple accompaniment, all the way to the microprocessor-loaded boxes sophisticated enough to serve as the central element in music.
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