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Building the Beat: Inside Legendary Roland TR-808 Tracks

Roland is celebrating 808 Day and the 40th Anniversary of the TR-808! In this Building the Beat video, producers share interesting insights into some of the most legendary tracks to feature the drum machine.

Video Description:

The legacy of the TR-808’s boom transcends genre—touching on everything from hip-hop and R&B to techno and house. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the legendary drum machine, a group of musical luminaries breaks down their stone-cold 808 classics.

Watch Arthur Baker, A Guy Called Gerald, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Jermaine Dupri, the Avila Brothers, Cozmo D, and Carl Craig discuss mainstream hits and underground classics from their discographies.

These eclectic producers and artists provide exclusive glimpses behind the curtain into what made their gems jam. Each one shares studio secrets that make “Planet Rock,” “Voodoo Ray,” “Tell Me If You Still Care,” “Nice & Slow,” “Moist,” “Jam On It” and “From Beyond” so iconic. Along the way, hear about how the 808 and their work influenced each other and culture at large.

Songs in this video were recreated using the TR-808 plug-in available in Roland Cloud. Try the TR-808 plug-in for free during the month of August with your free Roland Account. "In the words of Terry Lewis, “I always say Roland put the boom in music because they gave us an opportunity to use the boom.”

Reader Comments 1

I don't have a "personal history" with the 808. That is, I never owned one, and never worked with one in a studio. My first drum machine was a 505.

It's funny that at some point, we started hearing drum beats on those "home organs" where they had an "ultimate cheese" kind of vibe. Those kind of sounds mixed in with a farfisa kind of organ sound, it was just plain goofy. Then you hear 808 (which was similar to those early organ beat sounds) used with pop, R & B, or rap, and suddenly it sounds just right. Context is everything.

The sounds themselves are pleasant without any processing and they don't take up any more frequency space than they should. The cymbals, which are perhaps the least iconic, are actually straight up subharmonic series-- they must have come up with an analog method to get that to sound pretty smooth.
August 08, 2020  | favorite_border stub

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