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Roland Global #808DAY This Saturday, 8th August!

Published: Fri August 07, 2015  News Feed
To celebrate Roland's #808DAY this Saturday, here's a look at what made the original TR-808 so special, a guide to some of the best songs which used this iconic drum-machine, and how you can also get those classic drum-sounds, today!

Roland #808DAY


8th August is the perfect day (8/08, geddit?) to celebrate the world's most well-loved and iconic drum-machine. OK, but what's so special about this instrument, a "mere" drum-machine, which was a flop when first released, back in 1980? Well, as sometimes happens with ground-breaking musical instruments, it was indeed not a commercial success, but, like few musical instruments before or since, it helped to change music forever, and define an era.

The Roland TR-808 is as important in the history of popular music as the Gibson Les Paul or the Fender Stratocaster. It helped to shape the sound of Eighties music, from hip-hop to electro and even rock'n'roll.

Unlike most pieces of electronic gear, the TR-808 could sound dirty and nasty, giving it a more "organic" quality that actually added an edge to the music, unlike what some would expect from a drum-machine.

It's been used by everyone from Marvin Gaye's Sexual Healing to Whitney Houston's I Wanna Dance With Somebody, and LOTS of early hip hop, including Planet Rock by Afrika Bambaataa. Since then it's been used by everyone from rockers like Talking Heads, rappers Public Enemy, electro acts such as 808 State, and drum & bass DJs such as LTJ Bukem. The Roland TR-808 is regarded as a legendary instrument because it really heralded a new era in music, its very sound was an inspiration that led to the creation of so many songs that still sound fresh today.

A new film about the TR-808 will be released soon and has been gathering rave reviews, and the new Roland AIRA TR-8 brings back its vintage sounds. It seems the TR-808 is today more popular than ever!

If you want to learn a bit more about it, wtch this short documentary:



Here's a look at some of the songs that were created using the TR-808. Click on titles to check tunes on YouTube.

Zero is for... zero!


Guy Called Gerald, Voodoo Ray Afrika Bambaataa, PLanet Rock Marvin Gaye, Sexual Healing Cybotron, Clear New Order, Confusion Beats Egyptian Lover, Eypt Egypt Talking Heads, Psycho Killer (live) Adonis, No Way Back Image Map Love the sound of a Roland TR-808? Then here's 8 ways you can get the tone!

1. Buy an original Roland TR808... if you find one!

Roland TR808

Pros: It's the real deal! Cons: It'll set you back well over £2000...

2. Get an App!

808 app

There are some good apps on Apple Store if you fancy getting some 808 beats on the go!

3. Arturia SparkLE

Arturia SparkLE

The Arturia SparkLE is a modern take on the drum-machine concept, and delivers dozens of great vintage drum-machine emulations, including teh TR-808, of course! View more

4. Audio Animals Sounds of the TR-808

Audio Animals
Just in time for #808day, Audio Animals presents ‘Sounds Of The TR-808', a collection of drum hits and loops made using the Roland TR-808 and TR-909 drum machines. It's a FREE download, too! View here

5. HipHopMakers FREE 808 Sample

Free 808 samples

Here's another website also providing a free sample pack full of TR-808 sounds! View here

6. Play the 808 Online!

808 online

The HTML5drummachine website is great fun! And a great way to spend time making 808 beats in the office, when you were supposed to be working... dangerous!

7. Get a giant TR-808... with real drums!

The MR-808 is a giant, robotic version of the TR-808. Yes, it's pretty cool but, let's face it, won't fit on most people's recording studios!

8. Get a Roland AIRA TR8!


Well, well, of course! The Roland AIRA TR8 is the one and only true heir to the TR-808 throne! This futuristic take on the TR-808 brings back those classic sounds, but is loaded with features for the modern musician and producer. It is by far the best way to get the 808 sounds, plus much more.

The AIRA TR8 is proof that Roland can, still, innovate when it comes to electronic beats! There's no need to feel nostalgic... the TR8 is the new incarnation of the TR-808, but it's also very "now". A machine ready to make futuristic sounds and innovate once again, taking the TR808 to the 21st century. If you can find and afford a TR-808, by all means buy it, but really, no one buying an AIRA TR8 will be left feeling disappointed... View more

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