Let’s Push Things Forward
Music, like all forms of art, must evolve in order to survive. Fortunately for us, the creative manufacturing industry continues to develop amazing products that will push music into the 22nd century.
In this blog we’re going to look at 7 instruments that changed the game.
Where else could we start? We could wax lyrical about the Tele forever, but it’s been done a million times already. Imagine a world where electric guitars were only available to a select few…
Whilst the Telecaster wasn’t the very first electric guitar, it was the first to be successful commercially, which opened the floodgates to all other manner of models and designs. Whatever your views on guitar music, it really has been a great leveller in granting people access to music.
The Killers, LCD Soundsystem, Jean Michel-Jarre, Justice. What do they all have in common? The microKORG of course!
When released in 2002, the microKORG woke up a new generation to the possibilities of a synthesizer. It provides a low barrier to entry and is easy enough to play straight out of the box, unlike a lot of other synths. It also happens to look great and has a retro feel (something intentional if the promotional video above is anything to go buy). This is why it continues to be one of the most popular synths on the market.
Another instrument with a diverse clientele is the Roland 808.
That unmistakable intro to Sexual Healing? Yeah that’s the Roland 808.
The 808 was key in bringing drum machines to the mainstream and can be found on some of the biggest tunes of the 80s up to the present day.
The 808 is to Hip Hop what the Fender Stratocaster is to Rock music. From Afrika Bambataa to Drake, 99% of hip hop artists have rhymed over an 808 beat. (Kanye even named an album after it…)
Whilst the original isn’t manufactured anymore, the Aira TR-8 faithfully recreates the sounds of the 808 as well as 16 other classic kits.
Staying with an instrument that also has been a huge influence on Hip Hop and house music, we have the Akai MPC series. Still going strong, they continue to build new and exciting features around it. Watch any ‘Making of’ hip hop video and you’ll see an Akai MPC. The big panels and sheer power of the machine give it enduring appeal. Many other companies have based their samplers and drum machines on this template. Akai however, continue to be beloved by the Hip Hop community, and their latest offering, the MPC X appears to be another winner.
To see it in full flow, check out the undeniable skills of Mr. Kanye West at the 6 minute mark of his Runaway film.
Yamaha CLP-685 (Clavinova)
Innovation isn’t something you’d usually associate with pianos, but when you scratch the surface and think about how much digital pianos have developed over the years it becomes apparent that some serious technological advances have taken place. The Clavinova is one such instrument, making the shift from digital piano to a full scale home entertainment system. Not only does it play like an acoustic piano, but it has bluetooth connectivity so it can be used with apps and you can play your own music through it. The CLP-85 also comes with built in lessons, loads of voices and it looks amazing.
‘It’s a computer program, not an instrument, make some real music’ – Your Dad.
Let’s be clear, Ableton and other modern DAWs are as much an instrument as any electric guitar or otherwise, and they continue to develop at a rapid rate.
Really, Ableton has been responsible for substantially lowering the barrier to entry for anyone to make music. They’ve done this by putting UX and design at the heart of the product, and their tutorial led interface continues to be best in class. It does everything too. Ableton Live allows you to make original music, remix existing tracks or create a DJ set. Check out their ‘Learning Music’ tool for an amazingly intuitive introduction to the basics!
Roland V Drums
Electronic drum kits had been around for a while, but when the first Roland V Drum Kit was introduced in 2004, it quite simply changed the way professionals thought about what they use to perform live. They truly made digital drums a viable option for performers around the world.
The current flagship TD 50 KV kit is the best yet and is unparalleled in terms of realism. You can see our full range here
So that’s our list of game-changers. Don’t forget to follow us across social media, and if you think we’re missing something out, let us know!