|Roland TB-303 Bass Line|
TB-303 front panel
|Price||£238 UK, $395 US|
|Oscillator||Sawtooth and square wave|
|Synthesis type||Analog Subtractive|
|Filter||24dB low pass resonant filter, non self oscillating|
|Storage memory||64 patterns, 7 songs, 1 track|
|Effects||No internal effects.|
The Roland TB-303 Bass Line is a bass synthesizer released by the Roland Corporation in 1981. Designed to simulate bass guitars, it was a commercial failure and was discontinued in 1984. However, cheap second-hand units were adopted by electronic musicians, and its "squelching" or "chirping" sound became a foundation of electronic dance music such as acid house, Chicago house and techno.
Design and features
The TB-303 was designed by Tadao Kikumoto, who also designed the Roland TR-909 drum machine. It was marketed as a "computerised bass machine" to replace the bass guitar; however, according to Forbes, it instead produces a "squelchy tone more reminiscent of a psychedelic mouth harp than a stringed instrument".
The TB-303 has a single oscillator, which produces either a "buzzy" sawtooth wave or a "hollow-sounding" square wave. This is fed into a 24dB low-pass filter, which is manipulated by an envelope generator. The user programs notes and slides using a basic sequencer.
Two simple patterns on the TB-303. The second pattern has had the filter EG attack level altered.
Two simple overdriven patterns on the TB-303. The second pattern has varying resonance to give a harsh screeching sound. Both patterns have gradual cutoff frequency.
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Impact and legacy
Chicago group Phuture bought a cheap 303 and began experimenting. By manipulating the synthesizer as it played, they created a unique "squelching, resonant and liquid sound". This became the foundation of "Acid Tracks", which was released in 1987 and created the acid genre. Acid, with the 303 as a staple sound, became popular worldwide, particularly as part of the UK's emerging rave culture known as the second summer of love. "Rip It Up", by the Scottish post-punk band Orange Juice, which reached #8 in the UK singles chart in February 1983, was the first UK top 10 hit to feature the 303.
Another early use of a TB-303 (in conjunction with a TR-808 drum machine) is Indian musician Charanjit Singh's 1982 album Synthesizing: Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat. It remained obscure until the early 21st century, and is now recognized as a precursor to acid.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, as new acid styles emerged, the TB-303 was often overdriven, producing a harsher sound, such as on Hardfloor's 1992 EP "Acperience" and Interlect 3000's 1993 EP "Volcano". In other instances the TB-303 was distorted and processed, such as on Josh Wink's 1995 hit "Higher State of Consciousness".
- Hsieh, Christine. "Electronic Musician: Tadao Kikumoto". Retrieved 2010-10-02.
- "The History Of Roland: Part 2". www.soundonsound.com. Retrieved 2018-03-26.
- Hamill, Jasper. "The world's most famous electronic instrument is back. Will anyone buy the reissued TB-303?". Forbes. Retrieved 2018-03-26.
- "The Fall and Rise of the TB-303". Roland US.
- Vine, Richard (2011-06-14). "Tadao Kikumoto invents the Roland TB-303". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-03-26.
- "Buzzcocks: Boredom / Orange Juice: Rip It Up - Seconds - Stylus Magazine". 2015-06-10. Archived from the original on 2011-06-04. Retrieved 2018-03-26.
- Stuart Aitken (10 May 2011). "Charanjit Singh on how he invented acid house ... by mistake". The Guardian.
- Church, Terry (Feb 9, 2010). "Black History Month: Jesse Saunders and house music". beat portal. Retrieved 16 October 2011.
- "30 Years of Acid". Attack Magazine.
- Reidy, Tess (2014-02-15). "Retro electronics still popular – but why not just use modern software?". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-03-26.
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