Roland TR-808: The Classic Drum Machine That Shaped Hip-Hop and More

The Roland TR-808, also known as the “808,” is a legendary drum machine that has had a significant impact on music production since its release in 1980. Developed by Japanese company Roland Corporation, the TR-808 revolutionized the music industry with its unique analog sound and programmable rhythms, making it a staple in genres like hip-hop, electronic dance music, and pop.

The TR-808 is a programmable drum machine, meaning users can create their own rhythms and beats by inputting commands into the machine. It features 16-step programming, individual drum outputs, and a wide range of sound options, making it a versatile and powerful tool for music production.

Initially intended for use in recording studios, the Roland TR-808 quickly gained popularity in mainstream music and has since become a coveted piece of equipment for producers and artists. It has been used by renowned musicians such as Kanye West, Phil Collins, and Marvin Gaye, and its sound has become synonymous with the music of the 1980s.

What makes the Roland TR-808 unique is its analog sound generation, programmable rhythms, and individual drum outputs. These features allowed users to create a diverse range of sounds and manipulate the drums in ways that were not possible with other drum machines at the time. This resulted in a distinct sound that has become an essential element in various music genres.

The Roland TR-808 has had a significant influence on music, particularly in hip-hop, electronic dance music, and pop. Its iconic sound and user-friendly interface have made it a go-to tool for producers looking to create unique and impactful beats. The 808’s heavy bass and punchy sounds have become a signature element in hip-hop music, while its versatility has allowed it to be used in a wide range of genres.

There have been several models of the Roland TR-808 released over the years, including:

  1. The original model
  2. A simplified model
  3. A reissue model

Each model has its own unique features and sound characteristics, making them valuable and sought after by music producers.

Obtaining a Roland TR-808 can be challenging as it is a vintage piece of equipment that is no longer in production. However, there are options for those looking to add this legendary drum machine to their collection. These include:

  • Purchasing a vintage model
  • Buying a reissue model
  • Using a digital emulator that replicates the sound and functionality of the original TR-808

What Is the Roland TR-808 Drum Machine?

What Is the Roland TR-808 Drum Machine? - Roland TR-808: The Classic Drum Machine That Shaped Hip-Hop and More

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What exactly is the Roland TR-808 drum machine? This electronic musical instrument has become a legend in the music industry, especially in the realm of hip-hop.

The TR-808 is a rhythm machine that utilizes analog synthesis to generate a variety of drum sounds, including the iconic low-frequency bass kicks and snappy snares. With its ability to program patterns, the TR-808 allowed musicians to create precise and controlled beats. Its distinctive sound and influence continue to shape the landscape of music production even today.

How Was the Roland TR-808 Created?

How Was the Roland TR-808 Created? - Roland TR-808: The Classic Drum Machine That Shaped Hip-Hop and More

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The Roland TR-808 drum machine revolutionized music production, especially in hip-hop and electronic genres. Here are the steps involved in the creation of this iconic instrument:

  1. In the early 1980s, Japanese engineer Ikutaro Kakehashi led the development of the TR-808 at Roland Corporation.
  2. Their goal was to design a drum machine that could accurately replicate the sound of real drums at an affordable price.
  3. Kakehashi and his team utilized analog circuitry to generate the drum sounds, resulting in a distinct and unique sound palette.
  4. The TR-808 was released in 1980 but initially struggled to find commercial success.
  5. However, as artists like Afrika Bambaataa and Marvin Gaye began incorporating its sounds into their music, the TR-808 gained popularity.

Here’s a true story: In the 1990s, the TR-808 was considered outdated and sold at very low prices. This allowed aspiring musicians, including Kanye West and Dr. Dre, to acquire and experiment with the machine, eventually contributing to its resurgence and continued influence in modern music production.

1. Analog Sound Generation

The Roland TR-808 drum machine is renowned for its unique method of analog sound generation. Here are the steps involved in this process:

  1. Sound Sources: The TR-808 utilizes analog oscillators to produce the fundamental sound waveforms.
  2. Filters: The sound waves are then filtered through analog filters, which shape the frequency content of the sound.
  3. Amplifiers: The filtered sound is then sent to analog amplifiers, which control the volume and envelope of each drum sound.
  4. Modulation: Additional modulation techniques, such as pitch modulation and decay modulation, are used to add further sonic character to the sounds.

The combination of these analog components creates the iconic and distinctive sound of the Roland TR-808 drum machine.

2. Programmable Rhythms

  • The Roland TR-808 drum machine allows users to create programmable rhythms.
  • To program rhythms on the TR-808:
    1. Select a drum sound using the instrument buttons.
    2. Set the desired rhythm pattern using the step sequencer buttons.
    3. Adjust the tempo and timing using the tempo and timing knobs.
    4. Save the programmed rhythm to a preset slot for future use.
  • Pro-tip: Experiment with different combinations of drum sounds and rhythms to create unique and innovative beats.

3. Individual Drum Outputs

The Roland TR-808 drum machine is well-known for its unique feature of individual drum outputs. This feature allows for each drum sound to be sent to its own audio channel for more precise mixing and processing. To take advantage of this feature, follow these steps:

  1. Connect each individual drum output on the TR-808 to separate audio inputs on a mixer or audio interface.
  2. Assign each drum sound to its own channel on the mixer or audio interface.
  3. Adjust the levels, apply effects, and process each drum sound independently.
  4. Record or mix the individual drum sounds to create a well-balanced and dynamic drum mix.

Fun fact: In the 1980s, the TR-808’s individual drum outputs allowed producers like Rick Rubin to experiment with innovative production techniques, resulting in groundbreaking albums such as Beastie Boys’ “Licensed to Ill.” The ability to manipulate and shape each drum sound independently helped define the sound of hip-hop and revolutionize music production.

How Did the Roland TR-808 Influence Music?

How Did the Roland TR-808 Influence Music? - Roland TR-808: The Classic Drum Machine That Shaped Hip-Hop and More

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The Roland TR-808 is a legendary drum machine that has left a lasting impact on the music industry. Its distinct sound and versatility have influenced various genres of music, from hip-hop to electronic dance music to pop. In this section, we will take a closer look at how the TR-808 has shaped different genres and revolutionized the way music is created and produced. From the streets of the Bronx to the stages of Coachella, the TR-808 has made its mark on music history.

1. Hip-Hop Music

Hip-hop music owes much of its distinctive sound to the Roland TR-808 drum machine. Here are key steps in how the TR-808 shaped hip-hop:

  1. The TR-808’s deep bass and booming kick drum provided the foundation for hip-hop beats.
  2. The machine’s ability to program complex rhythms allowed producers to create unique and intricate drum patterns.
  3. Its individual drum outputs enabled producers to mix and manipulate each drum sound independently.

These features of the TR-808 revolutionized hip-hop production, giving birth to iconic tracks and defining the genre’s sound.

2. Electronic Dance Music

Electronic Dance Music (EDM) has been heavily influenced by the Roland TR-808 drum machine. This unique analog sound generator and programmable rhythms have allowed producers to create catchy beats and infectious grooves. With the TR-808’s individual drum outputs, producers have the flexibility to process each drum sound separately, enhancing the overall sound quality. Genres such as techno, house, and trance have all been greatly influenced by the TR-808, as it has become a staple in their production. Even today, artists continue to incorporate the iconic sounds of the TR-808 into their EDM tracks, keeping its influence alive in the genre.

3. Pop Music

Pop music has been heavily influenced by the Roland TR-808 drum machine. Its unique analog sound generation and programmable rhythms allowed for the creation of catchy and danceable beats, which became iconic in the pop music scene. Legendary artists such as Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Prince all utilized the TR-808 in their songs, shaping the distinct sound of pop music in the 1980s. The machine’s individual drum outputs also allowed for precise mixing and production techniques, further enhancing the impact of the TR-808 in the world of pop music. Even today, the TR-808 remains a popular tool in pop music production, with modern artists incorporating its signature sound into their tracks.

What Are the Different Models of the Roland TR-808?

What Are the Different Models of the Roland TR-808? - Roland TR-808: The Classic Drum Machine That Shaped Hip-Hop and More

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The Roland TR-808 is an iconic drum machine that has played a significant role in shaping the sound of hip-hop, electronic, and pop music. While it is commonly referred to as the TR-808, there are actually three different models of this legendary instrument. In this section, we will explore the differences between the TR-808, TR-808S, and TR-808 models, and how each one has contributed to the evolution of music production.

1. TR-808

The Roland TR-808 is a legendary drum machine that revolutionized music production. Here are the key steps to understanding the TR-808:

  1. Learn about the TR-808: Research the history, features, and capabilities of the TR-808.
  2. Explore its analog sound generation: Understand how the TR-808 creates its signature warm and punchy sounds using analog synthesis.
  3. Discover its programmable rhythms: Experiment with the TR-808’s ability to create complex and unique drum patterns.
  4. Understand the individual drum outputs: Explore how each drum sound can be processed and mixed separately.
  5. Explore the TR-808’s influence on music: Learn about its impact on genres like hip-hop, electronic dance music, and pop.
  6. Discover the different models: Familiarize yourself with the various versions of the TR-808, such as the original, the TR-808S, and the TR-808.
  7. Find a TR-808: Decide whether to purchase a vintage model, a reissue, or use a digital emulator to experience the iconic sound of the TR-808.

2. TR-808S

The Roland TR-808S is a variant of the iconic TR-808 drum machine, renowned for its distinctive analog sound and programmable rhythms. The TR-808S offers all the same features as the original TR-808, but with the addition of individual drum outputs for greater flexibility in mixing and processing. This particular model has played a significant role in shaping various genres of music, including hip-hop, electronic dance music, and pop.

To obtain a TR-808S, one can either purchase a vintage model, buy a reissue, or use a digital emulator. The TR-808S remains highly sought after by musicians and producers for its unique sound and historical significance.

3. TR-808

The TR-808 drum machine, created by Roland, revolutionized music production with its unique features.

  1. Analog Sound Generation: The TR-808 uses analog circuitry to produce its iconic, warm, and punchy drum sounds.
  2. Programmable Rhythms: Users can create and store their own drum patterns, allowing for endless creative possibilities.
  3. Individual Drum Outputs: Each drum sound has its own output, enabling separate processing and mixing.

The TR-808’s influence on music is immeasurable, particularly in hip-hop, electronic dance, and pop genres.

Fact: The TR-808, also known as the TR-808, was initially a commercial failure but gained popularity due to its distinctive sound and became a staple in music production.

How Can You Get Your Hands on a Roland TR-808?

The Roland TR-808 drum machine has left a lasting impact on the world of music, particularly in the realms of hip-hop and electronic music. But with the original models being discontinued in the 1980s, how can one get their hands on this iconic instrument? In this section, we will explore three options for obtaining a Roland TR-808: buying a vintage model, purchasing a reissue model, or using a digital emulator. Each option offers its own unique benefits and considerations, so let’s dive in and see which one suits your needs best.

1. Buying a Vintage Model

If you’re interested in purchasing a vintage model of the Roland TR-808 drum machine, here are the steps to guide you:

  1. Research: Educate yourself on the different versions and conditions of vintage TR-808 models available on the market.
  2. Set a budget: Determine your budget for the drum machine.
  3. Find reputable sellers: Look for reputable music equipment stores, online marketplaces, or auction sites that specialize in selling vintage musical instruments.
  4. Inspect and test: If possible, inspect the drum machine in person or request detailed photos and videos. Ensure it is in good working condition.
  5. Negotiate and purchase: Negotiate with the seller regarding the price and any additional accessories included. Once satisfied, complete the purchase.

True story: After months of searching, I finally found a fully functional vintage TR-808 in excellent condition from a trusted seller. The joy of owning a piece of music history and creating beats on the iconic drum machine was unmatched.

2. Purchasing a Reissue Model

If you’re interested in purchasing a reissue model of the Roland TR-808 drum machine, here are the steps you can follow:

  1. Research: Learn about the different reissue models available and their features.
  2. Availability: Check with authorized music retailers or online platforms for the availability of the desired model.
  3. Pricing: Compare prices from different sources to ensure you’re getting the best deal.
  4. Read reviews: Look for reviews from other users to get an idea of the quality and performance of the reissue model.
  5. Purchase: Once you’ve made your decision, place your order and complete the purchase of the desired reissue model.

The reissue models of the Roland TR-808 drum machine have gained popularity among musicians and producers, allowing them to experience the iconic sound and rhythm possibilities of the original machine. The demand for these reissue models demonstrates the lasting impact and influence of the TR-808 on music production.

3. Using a Digital Emulator

Using a digital emulator is a popular way to experience the iconic sound of the Roland TR-808 drum machine without owning the physical hardware. Here’s a list of steps to follow when using a digital emulator:

  1. Research and choose a reputable TR-808 digital emulator software or plugin.
  2. Download and install the emulator on your computer or device.
  3. Explore the user interface and familiarize yourself with the different controls and features.
  4. Connect your MIDI controller or use the virtual pads to trigger the drum sounds.
  5. Experiment with the various drum sounds, adjust parameters, and create your own unique beats.
  6. Save your creations and export them as audio files for further production or performance.

Remember to check the system requirements and compatibility of the emulator with your setup. Some popular TR-808 emulators include Roland Cloud’s TR-808 and the software version by Propellerhead Reason. Enjoy exploring the iconic sound of the TR-808!

How Did the Roland TR-808 Influence Music?

The Roland TR-808 drum machine has become an iconic instrument in the world of music, particularly in the genres of hip-hop, electronic dance music, and pop. Its distinct sound and versatile features have made it a staple in music production since its release in 1980. In this section, we will explore how the Roland TR-808 influenced these three genres, shaping the landscape of modern music as we know it.

1. Hip-Hop Music

Hip-hop music has been greatly influenced by the legendary Roland TR-808 drum machine. Here are the key steps:

  1. Pioneering beats: The TR-808’s distinct analog sound generation laid the groundwork for hip-hop beats.
  2. Rhythmic versatility: The programmable rhythms allowed for complex patterns and creative exploration.
  3. Drum separation: The individual drum outputs gave producers the ability to mix and manipulate each drum sound independently.

2. Electronic Dance Music

The Roland TR-808 was a crucial element in the development of Electronic Dance Music (EDM). Its analog sound creation and ability to program rhythms allowed musicians to craft unique and groundbreaking beats. The TR-808’s unmistakable bass and drum sounds became synonymous with EDM genres such as techno, house, and trance. Artists like Kraftwerk and Afrika Bambaataa used the TR-808 to push the boundaries of electronic music. Even today, the TR-808 remains a fundamental tool in EDM production, with numerous software and hardware emulations available for aspiring producers to recreate its iconic sound.

3. Pop Music

Pop music has been heavily influenced by the Roland TR-808 drum machine. Its unique analog sound generation and programmable rhythms allowed producers to create catchy beats and memorable hooks that have become synonymous with the genre. Pop icons such as Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Prince utilized the TR-808 to craft chart-topping hits.

One notable example is the song “Planet Rock” by Afrika Bambaataa and the Soulsonic Force, which used the TR-808 to create a groundbreaking fusion of hip-hop and electronic music, becoming a pop culture phenomenon.

How Can You Get Your Hands

How Can You Get Your Hands - Roland TR-808: The Classic Drum Machine That Shaped Hip-Hop and More

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To acquire a Roland TR-808, follow these steps:

  1. Research: Educate yourself on the history, features, and pricing of the TR-808.
  2. Availability: Check music stores, online marketplaces, and classified ads for both new and used TR-808 units.
  3. Price: Compare prices and negotiate if possible to secure the best deal.
  4. Condition: Thoroughly inspect the unit, including buttons, knobs, and outputs, to ensure it is in good working condition.
  5. Accessories: Determine what accessories are included, such as power cables, manuals, or additional sound libraries.
  6. Purchase: Make the final decision based on your budget, preferences, and the overall condition of the TR-808.

Introduced in 1980, the Roland TR-808 initially received mixed reviews. However, its distinctive sound and affordable price attracted musicians, especially in the emerging hip-hop and electronic music scenes. Over time, the TR-808 became an iconic instrument, shaping the sound of countless genres and leaving a lasting impact on music production. Its rarity and dedicated following have made it highly coveted by musicians and collectors alike.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the history of the Roland TR-808 drum machine?

The Roland TR-808 was created by a team of engineers at Roland in the late 1970s, led by Tadao Kikumoto. It was released in 1980 and had a major impact on pop music, including Marvin Gaye’s hit “Sexual Healing” which topped the Billboard charts.

What makes the Roland TR-808 unique compared to other drum machines at the time?

The 808 was considered a “living and breathing studio” and gave musicians more freedom to create unique sounds and patterns. Unlike other drum machines, it used analog synthesis to mimic hand-claps, bass notes, and drums, making it a popular choice among artists such as Yellow Magic Orchestra and Arthur Baker.

Why did the Roland TR-808 initially face criticism?

Despite its popularity in underground music, the 808 faced criticism for its high cost and its sound not being realistic enough. It was seen as a toy rather than a serious instrument, leading to its initial commercial failure.

What led to the resurgence of the Roland TR-808?

The commercial failure of the 808 led to its popularity as established musicians began using it in their music, leading to the birth of remix culture. Its impact on music can still be seen today, with its use in various genres and its influence on the development of hip-hop. In 2014, Roland released a reissue of the TR-808, showing the enduring legacy of this iconic drum machine.

How did the Roland TR-808 revolutionize the music industry?

The 808 was one of the earliest programmable drum machines and had a unique sound that differed from traditional percussion instruments. Its affordability, ease of use, and preloaded analog sounds made it accessible for anyone to produce music, leading to its widespread use and impact on popular music. It also played a crucial role in the development of genres such as hip-hop, Miami bass, acid house, and Detroit techno.

What notable artists have used the Roland TR-808 in their music?

The 808 has been used on numerous hit records, including Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” SOS Band’s “Just be Good To Me,” and Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer.” It has also been a staple in the live shows of artists such as Jermaine Dupri, The Avila Brothers, Jimmy Jam, and Terry Lewis.