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Learn how the iconic drum machine has influenced everyone from Snoop Dogg to Jamie XX.

The Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer is perhaps the most ubiquitous and iconic instrument in electronic music. Originally manufactured between 1980 and 1983 the drum machine has been instrumental in the creation of hip hop, rap, house & techno and the synth-pop of the 80s, which informs so much of modern production.

Artists as diverse as Marvin Gaye and Carl Craig have utilized the Roland's classic drum sound to create some of the biggest hits in music history. To celebrate 40 years of their flagship product, Roland have commissioned a new mini-doc to chart the history of the 808.

Building the Beat: Inside Legendary Roland TR-808 Tracks has contributions from Jamie XX, A Guy Called Gerald, Carl Craig and more. Running at 8:08 minutes long (of course) it's a bite-sized education on how pivotal the machine was in shaping the music we love today.

If you'd like to have a go at making a beat yourself, you can download the TR-808 DAW plug-in for free through August, just head over to Roland's website.

Finally, Roland have put together a 40-year Spotify playlist featuring 808 tracks, listen to that here.


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About the author

Matthew Francey

Head of Content

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