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The Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer was one of the first programable drum machines. The Roland TR-808 was produced between 1980 and 1983. It was originally intended to help studio musicians record demos. It used analog synthesis to create its sounds, which didn’t sound like a real drum kit at all. But, it was the artificial quality of its sounds that would eventually turn the TR-808 into one of the most iconic and fetishized instruments Roland ever manufactured. The sounds of the TR-808 were and still are very often used in drum and bass, hip hop, R&B, house, electro, and many forms of electronic dance music, albeit often unrecognizable after extensive processing.
The Roland TR-808 held specific appeal because of the ability of its bass drum sound to produce extremely low-frequency sounds. It also featured various unique artificial percussion sounds that characterized the TR-808: a deep bass kick drum, "tinny handclap sounds," “the ticky snare, the tishy hi-hats (open and closed) and the spacey cowbell.” The Roland TR-808 would eventually be used on more hit records than any other drum machine, and has thus attained an iconic status within the music industry. The machine's successor was the Roland TR-909.

Roland TR-808 Jam:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBg4h_GEhfk

Short Documentary about the 808:
http://www.focusforwardfilms.com/films/32/all-hail-the-beat

You can hear this famous machine in popular songs dating back to the early 80's, to even today's popular music

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Famous Users of the Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer:
  • A Guy Called Gerald
  • Aphex Twin
  • Arthur Baker
  • Bassnectar
  • Beastie Boys
  • Bushflange
  • Bomb The Bass
  • BT
  • Charanjit Singh
  • Cocteau Twins
  • Cybotron
  • David Byrne
  • Derrick May
  • DJ Jazzy Jeff
  • DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
  • DMX Krew
  • Double Duce
  • Download
  • Dr. Dre
  • Duran Duran
  • Eat Static
  • Egyptian Lover
  • Faithless
  • Force MDs
  • Freddy Fresh
  • Fresh Prince
  • Ice Cube
  • Jean Michel Jarre
  • Jimi Tenor
  • Jimmy Edgar
  • Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis
  • Josh Wink
  • Kanye West
  • Kelis
  • Kimbra
  • KLC
  • Kraftwerk
  • Lex Luger
  • LL Cool J
  • Luke Vibert
  • Madonna
  • Mark Moffatt
  • Marvin Gaye
  • Michael Jackson
  • Nick Rhodes
  • N.W.A
  • Orbital
  • Outkast
  • Prince
  • The Prodigy
  • Puff Daddy
  • Richie Hawtin
  • Sense Datum
  • Sir Mix-a-Lot
  • The Sisters of Mercy
  • Skinny Puppy
  • Snoop Dogg
  • Talking Heads
  • The Time
  • Three 6 Mafia
  • Too $hort
  • Überzone
  • Ultramagnetic MC's
  • Vanilla Ice
  • Warren G
  • Yellow Magic Orchestra