Never in a million years would I have guessed that I'd have an MPC in my possession. I didn't realize this little device can do just about anything an electronic music creator would want in a groove box. Now, just so you're aware, this post is not a review. It's an explanation as to how and why I use this device. I'll offer my opinion of the MPC, but this is not a full feature, functions, and benefits article. This is about the journey to discovering the benefits of this overlooked and underrated little black box.
I came around to discovering the MPC when my taste in music evolved. I always thought MPC boxes were synonymous with hip hop artists and producers. Please don't hold this against me, but I'm not much of a hip-hop fan. I respect the genre but never got into the music. I enjoy beats that hip hop producers create and how they found their way into other genres like trip-hop, acid jazz, and other electronica forms. However, I could never relate to the themes of hip hop. I gravitated towards different styles of rock; prog rock, metal, classic rock, etc. I learned to play drums when I was a teenager and strived to perfect that style. But over time, I started to appreciate other forms of music such as jazz, new age, and electronica. I also branched out and became attracted to other instruments. A wise man once told me that to take your playing to the next level, you should also learn to play and understand other instruments. So, I also started dabbling in playing guitar, bass, and the keys. I wouldn't say that I'm fluent in those other instruments. Still, I gained enough understanding to respect musicians who are much more skilled than myself. I also gained enough knowledge to start the process of creating my own music utilizing these instruments.
Luckily, technology has evolved to the point where all you need is a good computer to create music. Advancements in Digital Audio Workstations (DAW) have really taken off in the last decade. Now it's easy to control virtual instruments using Musical Instruments Digital Interfaces (MIDI). I got swept up into the world of computer-generated music thanks to the astounding amount of available sounds. I went down the rabbit hole of instrument plugins, but then suddenly, it got stale. I won't go into detail since I already wrote about this in a previous article. Let's just say I entered the age of DAWless jamming, but I lacked the necessary hardware.
In the time of the great 2020 pandemic, I caught the synth bug. I wanted to dive into jamming electronica style music. I wanted a way to jam in real-time without using my computer. I craved the ability to modulate frequencies and detune notes while keeping the beat going. So I dove into the world of small desktop synths. I successfully connected these synths and drum machines together using MIDI, but the loops and sequencers were limited. The workflow seemed convoluted. I needed a device that would provide better control and allow for more expressive freedom.
I went on the hunt for the right device to tie it all together. A tool that was easy to use would allow for programming notes, controlling external devices, and trigger samples. The internet is a beautiful place, but it's vast and overwhelming. I researched groove-boxes, sequencers, and other odd yet interesting devices that claimed to have the answer. I conducted most of my research through YouTube, on the top ten list websites, manufacturer websites, and social media groups. One device that I kept going back to and at first I was reluctant but then realized it was the right one for me, the MPC One.
What does the MPC One do for my workflow? Let me count the ways.
I just scratched the surface of what this box can do. I simply wanted to share the reasons I chose this device. We've all been there where you make a purchase on an instrument that initially you thought would be amazing. It would inspire and catapult your creativity, only to let you down due to its lackluster controls or sound. I had this experience with the Behringer CAT. I was having a difficult time dialing in a sound right out of the box and regretted my decision. But this is not the case with the MPC One. I was creating music right out of the box, and each time I turn it on, I get excited thinking about the music I am about to make.
Brian Lundgren is a marketing professional, musician, and family man living in the Southeast region of Massachusetts.