Tadao Kikumoto invents the Roland TB-303

1981: Number 8 in our series of the 50 key events in the history of dance music

Running parallel to the history of dance is the history of music technology: software such as Cubase, Logic and Reason, and hardware like the Akai MPC-60, Kaoss Pads and the Yamaha DX7 have all had a hand in shaping the genre, as much as Stratocasters and four-tracks did for rock. One of the first boxes to define the sound of electronic dance music was the Roland TB-303 Bassline. Roland engineer Tadao Kikumoto's machine is a happy accident: not great at doing what it was designed to do (simulate the sound of a bass guitar), but brilliant once it got into the right (wrong) hands. Production stopped in 1984 because the target audience was disappointed with the lack of realism. But its thrilling, squelchy, endlessly tweakable sound was perfect for the emerging house and techno scene – check Phuture's Acid Tracks from 1987 – it could only have been written on a machine. Even though you can now replicate the 303's sound on inexpensive music programs, the original rarely eBays for less than £1,200.

Contributor

Richard Vine

The GuardianTramp

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