Ikutaro Kakehashi

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Ikutaro Kakehashi (梯 郁太郎 Kakehashi Ikutarō?, born in Osaka on February 7, 1930) is an engineer, an entrepreneur, and the founder of the Ace Tone and Roland Corporations, Japanese manufacturers of electronic musical instruments. He is known for his role in the development of Ace Tone and Roland drum machines and the MIDI interface.


In the 1950s, Ikutaro Kakehashi repaired electronic organs and created new prototype organs while concurrently running an electrical appliance shop. At 28, he decided to devote himself to music and pursuit of the ideal electronic musical instrument.

Ikutaro Kakehashi is best known for founding Roland Corporation. Prior to Roland he started Ace Tone, an organ company that evolved into Hammond Organ Japan. He left Hammond to start Roland in the early 1970s.

External video
Oral History, Ikutaro Kakehashi explains pieces of his life story and career. interview date January 23, 2001, NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Oral History Library

Ace Tone[edit]

See also: Ace Tone

In 1964, he developed a hand-operating electronic drums, called the R1 Rhythm Ace. It was exhibited at Summer NAMM 1964, however not commercialized.[1]

In 1967, he developed the preset rhythm-pattern generator using diode matrix circuit, a drum machine where a "plurality of inverting circuits and/or clipper circuits are connected to a counting circuit to synthesize the output signal of the counting circuit" and the "synthesized output signal becomes a desired rhythm."[2]

Ace Tone commercialized his preset rhythm machine, called the FR-1 Rhythm Ace, in 1967. It offered 16 preset patterns, and four buttons to manually play each instrument sound (cymbal, claves, cowbell and bass drum). The rhythm patterns could also be cascaded together by pushing multiple rhythm buttons simultaneously, and the possible combination of rhythm patterns were more than a hundred (on the later models of Rhythm Ace, the individual volumes of each instrument could be adjusted with the small knobs or faders). The FR-1 was adopted by the Hammond Organ Company for incorporation within their latest organ models. In the US, the units were also marketed under the Multivox brand by Peter Sorkin Music Company, and in the UK, marketed under the Bentley Rhythm Ace brand. The Bentley-branded Rhythm Ace inspired the 1997 Birmingham band Bentley Rhythm Ace when a model was found at a car boot sale. The unique artificial sounds characteristics of the FR-1 were similar to the later Roland rhythm machines, and featured on electronic pop music from the late 1970s onwards.[1]


In the 1970s, he founded Roland and continued the development of drum machines, including the Roland CR-78 and the iconic Roland TR-808.

In June 1981, Kakehashi proposed the idea of standardization to Oberheim Electronics founder Tom Oberheim, who then talked it over with Sequential Circuits president Dave Smith. In October 1981, Kakehashi, Oberheim and Smith discussed the idea with representatives from Yamaha, Korg and Kawai.[3] The MIDI standard was unveiled by Kakehashi and Smith, who both later received Technical Grammy Awards in 2013 for their key roles in the development of MIDI.[4][5]

In 1991, based upon his contribution to the development and popularization of electronic instruments, Kakehashi was awarded an honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music, U.S.A. In 2000 he left his handprints on the Rock Walk Hall of Fame in Hollywood. In 2013 he received a Technical Grammy Award, shared with Dave Smith of Sequential Circuits, for the invention of MIDI. Kakehashi retired from Roland in 2013.

In 2002 Kakehashi published his autobiography, titled I Believe In Music,[6] and was also featured as a biography in the book The Art of Digital Music.



  1. ^ a b Reid, Gordon (2004), "The History Of Roland Part 1: 1930–1978", Sound on Sound (November), retrieved 19 June 2011 
  2. ^ US patent 3651241, Ikutaro Kakehashi (Ace Electronics Industries, Inc.), "Automatic Rhythm Performance Device", issued 1972-03-21 
  3. ^ Chadabe, Joel (1 May 2000). "Part IV: The Seeds of the Future". Electronic Musician (Penton Media) XVI (5). 
  4. ^ http://www.grammy.com/news/technical-grammy-award-ikutaro-kakehashi-and-dave-smith
  5. ^ http://www.grammy.com/videos/technical-grammy-award-recipients-ikutaro-kakehashi-and-dave-smith-at-special-merit-awards
  6. ^ (ISBN 0634037838)

External links[edit]