The TR-808
model was not originally planned for the professional music market, but was
intended for making demo records of drum parts. To create a structure of what will later be played live.
It was introduced to the public in 1980. At that time, storage media for
storing samples cost a lot of money, and this forced Roland company to develop
a machine capable of synthesizing sounds by triggering an electric current
through transistors. Ikutaro Kakehashi, the creator of Roland TR-808, claims
that the 808’s distinctive sizzle was produced by the faulty transistors that
he chose for the sound generator. (Norris, 2015), and this drastically
affected the sound of the model. Roland’s goal was to recreate the genuine
sounds of drums, but the sound of the 808’s was pretty  unrealistic, one can even say futuristic. Individual drum sounds did not match
the timbres of an acoustic drum set in any manner. Also, TR-808
was criticized for the limited amount of included sounds. Electronic music at that time has not
yet become common among people, thus musical environment where guitars dominated
and professional musicians wanted to use drums that sounded authentic perceived
this device as a toy. Everything mentioned above led to a commercial breakdown
and a short period of production of the model. Roland discontinued the 808 in 1983. “It
sold fewer than 12,000 units”. ( Marsden, 2008). Nevertheless, artists were
starving for something unique and Roland gave them what they really needed. The
eccentricity of the 808’s extraordinary
sounds is what attracted producers of growing electronic music styles in the
first place, and what maintains the instrument’s popularity to this day. Perhaps
the most important of the 808’s sounds for the emerging electronic community
was the bass drum. This low frequency boom was absolutely different from the
sound of an acoustic bass drum, but its flexibility and expressive low-end coverage have made it hugely
popular in many different electronic genres.


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