RBMA-20: Red Bull Music Builds the World’s Largest Sequencer


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This month, Red Bull Music is paying tribute to Berlin club culture and the machines that have shaped electronic sounds worldwide. Developed for the 20th-anniversary edition of the Red Bull Music Academy, the RBMA-20 is the largest sequencer in the world and will be installed in front of Tresor club for public use through October 13. Simultaneously, Red Bull Music is sending electronic music’s most iconic machines onto the tracks of Berlin public transport. BVG trams and trains will circulate the city, transformed into drum machines, sequencers, and synthesizers.

As a leading institution committed to fostering creativity in music, Red Bull Music Academy has spearheaded the creation of a monumental instrument. With a length of 10 meters and a height of 2.2 meters, the RBMA-20 is the largest drum machine ever built and is fully functional. The sequencer features 427 knobs and faders, as well as four analog drum machines, a modular synthesizer, and a sampling unit. Designed and built by the Berlin-based creative studio Neulant van Exel, 30 technicians have been working for five weeks to assemble this unique piece of gear.

Recognized globally for its thriving electronic music community, Berlin is home to some of the most respected clubs in the world. Today through October 13, the RBMA-20 will be stationed in front of the entrance to one such venue, namely Tresor Club on Köpenicker Straße. During the club’s opening hours, the sequencer can be tested and programmed with new grooves and beat patterns with the help of on-site experts. Visitors standing in line can listen via headphones, resulting in an interactive session in front of one of the most important techno clubs in history. Additionally, Berlin-based artists Symbiz and INSTANT improvised the first track composed on the sequencer, the result of which can be seen in this performance video.

Throughout October, synthesizers and drum machines will also become a part of Berlin’s urban landscape, as subway and tram cars disguised as famous pieces of gear travel through the city. From Roland’s TR-808, TR-909, and TB-303 to Korg’s MS-20, Native Instruments’ Maschine and Ableton’s Push, these machines have shaped club culture in Berlin and influenced music worldwide, including hip-hop, techno, electro, pop and much more. They have been pivotal to the producers and musicians that have created and collaborated over the past two decades of Red Bull Music Academy.

*UPDATE* Revisit some of the highlights here: redbullmusicacademy.com/about/projects/berlin-2018.