Roland TB-303  

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The Roland TB-303 Bass Line is a synthesizer with built-in sequencer manufactured by the Roland corporation from 1982 to 1984 that had a defining role in the development of contemporary electronic music.

The TB-303 (named for "Transistor Bass") was originally marketed to guitarists for bass accompaniment while practicing alone. Production lasted approximately 18 months, resulting in only 10,000 units. It was not until the mid- to late-1980s that DJs and electronic musicians in Chicago found a use for the machine in the context of the newly developing house music genre.

Phuture's "Acid Tracks" is widely acknowledged to have been the first Acid House recording to incorporate prototypical TB-303 sounds. Earlier recordings featuring the TB-303 can be traced back as far as the early Electro scene, including artists such as Ice T, Newcleus, and Mantronix, as well as pop musicians such as Heaven 17 and Section 25.

In the early 90's, as new Acid styles emerged, the 303 was often overdriven, producing a harsher sound. Examples of this technique include Hardfloor's 1992 EP "Acperience", and Interlect 3000's 1993 EP "Volcano".

The well-known "acid" sound is typically produced by playing a repeating note pattern on the TB-303, while altering the filter's cutoff frequency, resonance, and envelope modulation. The TB-303's accent control modifies a note's volume, filter resonance, and envelope modulation, allowing further variations in timbre. A distortion effect, either by using a guitar effects pedal or overdriving the input of an audio mixer, is commonly used to give the TB-303 a denser, noisier timbre--as the resulting sound is much richer in harmonics.

The head designer of the TB-303, Tadao Kikumoto, was also responsible for leading design of the TR-909 drum machine.

Usage

"Rip It Up" by Scottish post-punk band Orange Juice, which reached #8 in the UK singles chart in February 1983, was the first UK hit to feature the synthesiser, though it was predated by the 1982 Heaven 17 single "Let Me Go". Another early use of a TB-303, especially in conjunction with a Roland drum machine, is now attributed to pioneering Indian musician Charanjit Singh's Synthesizing: Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat, an album of original electronic disco compositions recorded using the TB-303 and TR-808 in 1982, pre-dating the sound of acid house by at least half a decade, but forgotten in obscurity until his rediscovery in the early 21st century.

It was in the mid- to late-1980s that DJs and electronic musicians in Chicago found a use for the machine in the context of the newly developing house music genre. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, as new acid styles emerged, the TB-303 was often overdriven, producing a harsher liquid acid-like sound. Examples of this technique include Phuture's 1987 "Acid Tracks" (sometimes known as "Acid Trax" which started acid house), Hardfloor's 1992 EP "Acperience" and Interlect 3000's 1993 EP "Volcano". Jesse Saunders also utilized the TB-303 with a Roland TR-808 drum machine and Korg Poly-61 synthesizer for the seminal Chicago house record "On and On" (1984).

In other instances the TB-303 was extremely distorted and processed, such as Josh Wink's 1995 hit "Higher State of Consciousness".

The "acid" sound is typically produced by playing a repeating note pattern on the TB-303, while altering the filter's cutoff frequency, resonance, and envelope modulation. The TB-303's accent control modifies a note's volume, filter resonance, and envelope modulation, allowing further variations in timbre. A distortion effect, either by using a guitar effects pedal or overdriving the input of an audio mixer, is commonly used to give the TB-303 a denser, noisier timbre—as the resulting sound is much richer in harmonics. Popular pedals include pedals by Boss and DOD Electronics pedals like the Grunge or Death Metal.

The head designer of the TB-303, Tadao Kikumoto, was also responsible for leading design of the TR-909 drum machine. In 2011, The Guardian listed the 1981 release of the TB-303 as one of the 50 key events in the history of dance music.





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Roland TB-303" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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