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Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer

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The Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer is a unique and versatile rhythm device that can be used in a number of ways. Among its many operating features is its ability to write and record thirty two percussive rhythms incorporating up to eleven different sounds plus accents. Each of these percussion sounds has its own level control for full mixing flexibility over the total sound, and each sound also has its own separate output so that it can be mixed or processed separately from the others.

Programming of the Rhythms can be accomplished either in or out of real time by means of a Step programming method which basically breaks each beat down into a series of steps, which can be varied to suit the desired rhythm. Each beat (or quarter note), can be divided into 3, 4, 6, 8, individual steps so that rhythms can be written incorporating as small a division as thirty-second notes.

Once the various rhythm patterns are written and stored in computer memory, they can be arranged to perform an entire composition's percussion track by means of a Compose function, The track can last up to 768 measures. The memory can also be used in individual increments of 64 measures each to play up to twelve different songs.

Three separate Trigger Outputs allow the TR-808 to be connected to various digital sequencers, synthesizers or other such devices for synchronized con-trol of sound. Other performance features such as automatic insertion of Introduction or Fill In rhythms as well as remote control over both this and the Start/Stop function expand the TR-808's uses into live performance in addition to its obvious applications in recording and composing music.


Type: Digital
Sound Engine: Subtractive
Pattern Engine (+) Open Manual Page
Programming: Real Time, Step
Pattern Notes:
+ 16 Steps
+ A/B parts
+ Chain up to 768 measures
Sounds Per Pad (+) Open Manual Page
Sounds Per Pad: 1
Sources: Synthesizer
Sounds Notes:
+ 16 Sounds
Polyphony & Tuning
Polyphony: 12
Timbrality: 12
Tuning: Standard
Modes: Mono
Patterns User: 64
Storage: Internal
Case: Desktop
Trigger Pads : 8 pads, Buttons
Controls: Buttons, Knobs, Sequencer, Start / Stop Pedal, Switches
Display Type: LED
MIDI / Sync / Trigger (+) Open Manual Page
Audio Outputs: 1/4" Phone Jack, Mono Out
Audio Output Count: 13
Audio Output Notes: 11 x 1/4 Instruments, 2 x 1/4" Mono Lo + Hi impedence
CV Ports: Trigger Out
Control Features: 3 x Trigger outputs
List: $1,195
Retail: $995
Used: $3,000 - $4,000
Released: 1980
Units Made: 1983
Used By
2 Live Crew, 808 State, Afrika Bambaataa, Aphex Twin, Beastie Boys, Beyoncé, Cybotron, David Byrne, Dr. Dre, Eminem, Goldie, Hank Shocklee, Janet Jackson, Jellybean Benitez, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Madonna, Man Parrish, Mantronix, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, New Order, Orbital, Outkast, Plastikman, Pharrell Williams, Phil Collins, Prince, Questlove, Richie Hawtin, Rick James, Rick Rubin, Rihanna, Run D.M.C., Ryuichi Sakamoto Sir Mix-a-Lot, Soulsonic Force, Taylor Swift, The Monitors, The S.O.S. Band, The Unknown DJ, Todd Terry, Warp 9, Yellow Magic Orchestra
Design Notes:

Introduced by the Roland Corporation in the early 1980s, it was originally manufactured for use as a tool for studio musicians to create demos.

Roland credits the design of the TR-808 to two of its employees: Nakamura, who was responsible for the analog voice circuits, and Matsuoka, who developed the software. The Roland TR-808 was produced between 1980 and 1983 by the Roland Corporation, with approximately 12,000 units manufactured in that time.

At the time of its release in 1980, it was received with little fanfare, as it did not have digitally sampled sounds. Drum machines using digital samples were initially more popular. One journalist's contemporary comparison of analog drum machines in general to "marching anteaters" has often been believed to refer to the TR-808 in particular.

The first band to use the TR-808 was the Japanese electronic music group Yellow Magic Orchestra, as soon as it was released in 1980. One of the earliest uses of the TR-808 for a live performance was by Yellow Magic Orchestra in December 1980 for the song "1000 Knives", an electro rendition of member Ryuichi Sakamoto's "Thousand Knives" (1978). The hand-clap sound was later publicized by YMO's innovative album BGM, which was released March 1981 in Japan; used again on "1000 Knives" and in "Music Plans," another of Sakamoto's songs.

The TR-808 would later be further popularized in 1982, with the release of the mainstream American hits "Sexual Healing" by Marvin Gaye, "Cold Blooded" by Rick James, "Planet Rock" by Afrika Bambaataa[2] and "Nunk," by Warp 9. A TR-808 was also David Byrne's sole accompaniment (apart from his acoustic guitar) at the beginning of Stop Making Sense (1984), prior to the gradual appearance of the rest of Talking Heads, although Byrne created the illusion that the sound came from a boombox he brought onstage.

In 1983, then-new record producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis introduced the Roland TR-808 into popular music by using it in hit songs they wrote for R&B recording act The S.O.S. Band like, "Just Be Good to Me", "Tell Me if You Still Care", "Borrowed Love", "No One's Gonna Love You", "Just the Way You Like It", and "The Finest" as well as songs they wrote and produced for Alexander O'Neal, Cherrelle, Janet Jackson, and others.
Manuals & Documents

Product Sites & Reviews
Company Product Sites:
[+] www.roland.com

[+] en.wikipedia.org
Repairs and Support:
[+] studiorepair.com
[+] www.analogics.org
Social Networking
Editors & Software:
[+] tactilesounds.blogspot.co.uk
[+] d16.pl
References & Sources

  Report Drum Machine

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