ROLAND TR-808: The drum machine that revolutionised music

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The iconic TR-808 Roland drum machine.

writes as follows: It was in production for only three years, and was a commercial disaster. So how did it end up becoming the instrument that still sounds like the future?

The congas ring cheekily, the cowbell plays a corroded chime, the snare is parched and cruel – and the bass drum, a hard bloom of air, is barely music at all. With these core sounds, abetted by a handful of others, a simple drum machine gave house, techno and hip-hop the language it still speaks today.The Roland TR-808 went out of production in 1983, even as the music that depended on it was being formed. Now Roland has resurrected it as the TR-8. The new model features all the sounds of the original as well as those of its successor, the TR-909 (there is also a relaunched version of the TB-303, the imitation bass guitar that acid house producers used to ....

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