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Anne Beetem Acker

Electronic percussion instrument released in 1980 and manufactured by the BOSS division of Roland. Very popular, small, inexpensive and easy to use, the Dr Rhythm model DR-55 was one of the first drum machines to use ‘step-write’ programming, where in ‘write’ mode the user can select a sound and use buttons to move incrementally (‘step’) through each beat of the beat pattern and select a choice of sounds. It can store up to six 16-step drum patterns and two 12-step patterns, the latter for triple-metre rhythms. Its four (analogue) voice-circuit sounds are snare, kick drum, rim-shot, and hi-hat. The pattern can be switched during playing, and volume, tempo (45 to 300 beats per minute), tone, and accent can be globally adjusted. The DR-110 Graphic (...


Hugh Davies and Andrei Smirnov

Electronic percussion instrument constructed for the composer Henry Cowell by Lev Termen (Leon Theremin) in 1931; two examples were built. It was the earliest electronic rhythm machine. A series of rotating wheels interrupted beams of light to produce very complex rhythms with precision. The polyphonic keyboard had 17 keys, each of which, except the 17th, produced a single note repeated in a periodic rhythm for as long as it was held down; the 17th key inserted an extra beat in the middle of each bar. Each of the 16 rhythms could be produced individually or in combination, requiring 455 days, 2 hours, and 30 minutes to play all possible combinations, assuming a duration of 10 seconds for each....