Thursday, June 7, 2012

Electronic Drums book with LinnDrum and DMX sound sheet, Amsco Publishing 1985




After my last blog post on the LinnDrum, I received not one, but two emails asking for information about the Electronic Drums book I referenced as an offline resource. Yes, I know - this book is not really an ad. But I think you will agree the addition of the excellent sound sheet in the book almost makes it promotional material for Linn, Oberheim and Simmons. But don't give the machines full credit - the author/musician playing the gear on the sound sheet gets a lot of it.

If you haven't guessed by the opening paragraph, I'm a big fan of the synthesizer and drum machine reference books that came out in the 80's. Books like Synthesizer Technique and Synthesizer Basics that were compiled by the editors of Keyboard Magazine (and part of the Keyboard Synthesizer Library series) are great reads.

Another publisher also capitalizing (in a good way!) on the popularity of electronic gear in the mid-80s was Amsco Publications - and they seem to still be around today! The company released more than a few great books, including The Complete Guide to Synthesizers, Sequencers & Drum Machines by Dean Friendman, and this book - Electronic Drums  - by Frank Vilardi and Steve Tarshis.

And like I said... I *love* these handy little reference guides. Old, yes. But a lot of good information packed into them. 

The book itself is 85 pages, and includes a rockin' two-sided sound sheet. The sub-title of the book pretty much explains what the book is about - "Everything you need to know about electronic drum kits and drum computers".

Yup. 

The author profile at the back of the book provides a bit of background information about the author Frank Vilardi. He's described as a free-lance drummer working in New York City "working in recording studios doing records, films, TV and radio jingles". He was also involved in touring and teaching electronic drum workshops. That's a pretty full plate.

There is no information on the other author, Steve Tarshis, in the book - but luckily more information on both authors are just a few quick Google searches away.  Frank Vilardi's Web site looks to have last been edited around September 2008 and tells me he is still living in New York City and was touring with the Bacon Brothers around that time period.  Albumcredits.com has him listed as working with artists like Kaya, Rod Stewart and Rosanne Cash well into 2011 and 2012. Impressive stuff

Steve Tarshis also has a Web site and includes an also-impressive bio working as a musical director, a musician for several Broadway and Off-Broadway musicals, instructor, lecturer and instructor. Coolest of all is that his news page has him currently listed as the Director of New York area kid's rock camp called Camp Jam at Hofstra University from Summer 2010 to present. "No canoes - lots of rock". Hee hee!

As mentioned above, Frank and Steve have put together a wonderful piece of reference material for the time period - that being before you could find everything you wanted to know about absolutely everything on the Web. As a non-drummer growing up, the first two sections were of most interest and use to me. Although as a young electronic musician I probably should have spent A LOT more time on section three.   :)

I've included a short summary of each section below. 

Section 1 is titled Electronic Drums and provides two-to-five page summaries on the features of a number of electronic drum kits including Simmons SDS 5, Pearl Fightman, Simmons SDS 8, Tama Techstar, Simmons SDS 7, E-Drum by E-mu and Simons SDS-1.

Section 2 is titled Digital Drum Computers and provides summaries on the features of a number of drum machines including LinnDrum, Oberheim DMX and DX, E-mu Drumulator, Roland TR-909, Roland TR-707, Yamaha RX11 and RX15 and finally the Linn 9000.

Section 3, probably of more interest to drummers and those without any drum machine knowledge, is a section called Programming a Song, and the whole second side of the demo sound sheet that comes with the book is devoted to this section.

Section 4, the last section, is called Triggering and Sampling and provides just a page or two on the some of the devices that have started to appear for this purpose.

The book also includes a description for both sides of the sound sheet, which I've included below. It was programmed and played by Frank Vilardi except for 4, listed as being programmed by Rick Kerr. Recorded by Rick Kerr at Planet Sound, New York City.

Side 1: 


  1. Starts with LinnDrum. Percussion sounds only heat continues throughout.
    Joined by acoustic drums.
    Acoustic drums are dropped out.
    Simmons bass and snare drum that are being triggered from acoustic drums continue.
    Acoustic drums reappear to join Simmons and Linn.
  2. Begins with Acoustic drums and triggered Simmons (bass and snare).
    Linn drum is added. The swing or shffle function is being used here to create the reggae feeling.
  3. Starts with Linn drum playing a tipical "dance" type of beat.
    The first tom fill is the Linn. All subsequent fills being overdubbed on the Simmons SDS 7. The kits are being changed every two fills to demonstrate some of the sound possibilities. 
  4. This example was programmed entirely on DMX, using all factory sounds. there are two separate programs of the drum machine running in sync to each other. This technique, along with some non-standard tunings are studio equipment can be used to create some very interesting effects.
Side 2: This side demostrates the programming of the song demonstrated in the book. Done on Linn Drum.


  1. Count off - Program 77, Measures a & b.
  2. Intro - Program 11, Measures 1-4.
  3. Verse - Program 12, Measures 5-10.
  4. End of verse - Program 13, Measures 11 & 12.
  5. Chorus - Program 14, Measures 13-18.
  6. Seventh bar of chorus - Program 15, Measure 19.
  7.  Eighth bar of chorus - Program 16, Measure 20.
  8. Bridge - Program 17, Measures 21-25.
  9. Fill at end of bridge - Program 18, Measure 26.
  10. Entire song.
I've seen a couple of copies of the book pop up on eBay and Amazon used books. If you dig these types of books, definitely pick up a copy if you can find it at a decent price.

And wouldn't you know it... before I posted this, I snatched another nicely priced copy on e-Bay - including the sound sheet!

Thank you Frank and Steve and Amsco for creating this book! Pure awesomeness.

1 comment:

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