KORG MINI POPS
VINTAGE CONTRIBUTIONS

One of Korg's earlier drum machines from the late 60s (and possibly one of the world's first solid-state beatboxes), the Mini Pops was aimed fair and square at the organ market as you can see from its styling.

As such it came with an assortment of preset rhythms with the obligatory cha-cha, beguine, tango, rhumba, bossa-nova, waltz, march, rock and so on that were selectable from the push buttons along the front panel (in conjunction with a 'bank select' toggle switch on the top panel).

The top panel also featured controls for tempo plus various sliders for setting the level of the cymbal and balance between the bass and snare drum.

There were several models in the 'Mini Pops' range, each one offering more or less functionality and in different form factors (i.e. cases), some resembling the later Roland CR78.

Although an interesting drum machine at the time, by all accounts, this little beatbox would probably have disappeared into obscurity had it not been for one very eminent user who featured the MP7 on his debut album before going on to become arguably the world's most flamboyant synth performers.

That's right - the MP7 was the rhythmic driving force behind Jean-Michel Jarre's seminal synth album "Oxygene" which, as we know, went on to enjoy huge world-wide success and, of course, spawned a host of successive albums (in which his Mini Pops played no less a part).

However, Jean-Michel exploited a 'bug' on the box that set his use of the unit apart from your typical cabaret club organist...

By pressing two or more of the preset buttons, it was possible to combine patterns thus allowing triplet-based patterns to be overlaid with, say, a more conventional 4/4 pattern as well as other poly-rhythmic abuses. This was a flaw in the design but in this way, Jarre was able to make his MP7 transcend its inherent limitations (though quite how he synced it up to his sequencers is a mystery!).

REM also used a Mini Pops on their track "Everybody Hurts" and my understanding is that a Mini Pops was also the drum machine of the fledgling Liverpool band, OMD and was featured on their hit 'Enola Gay' amongst others.

The full set of sixteen sounds from an original Korg MP7 is featured here and donated by one Tim Callaghan of www.snare.org.uk. I am extremely grateful for the care and attention Tim and his mate Dave have taken in providing these authentic beatbox sounds and rescuing it from obscurity.