As a follow-up to the TR-8 post, here’s an interesting and entertaining documentary about the original drum machine TR-808. Featuring plenty of colorful characters, from Afrika Bambaataa with a knife as a hairpin to Goldie with his mouth full of gold, it’s a fun watch. There’s other famous artists as well, including Norman Cook (aka. Fatboy Slim); Phil Collins; Felix Da Housecat; Tiga; Armand Van Helden and many more.
The Roland TR-8 drum machine is the prefect complement to the TB-03 synthesizer. In the TR-8, you can find the old school beats of the TR-808 and TR-909, plus more. There’s a smooth heavy bass drum; a snare; toms; claps; hiats; and cymbals. The ride-cymbal in particular gives a nice spacey sound when used in combination with some delay, and perhaps one of the scatter effects.
There are multiple input and output options, including analog connectors, MIDI and USB. The TR-8 syncs fine over MIDI with the TR-03, as slave or master. However, I was surprised to find that connecting the USB to an old computer did not go so well; it somehow interferes with the clock, so notes are skipping, even when nothing is connecting to MIDI nor audio on the computer.
Roland has a somewhat cheesy tutorial here, while this guys talks about the “hidden” features in the “boot mode”.
Finally, my own MIDI monitor is starting to come along, and can now understand both TB-03 and TR-8 messages, including all special controllers. The PatternHistory is already useful to see which notes and patterns are playing. So far only one instrument at a time is supported, but more is coming.
The Roland TB-03 is a remake of the famous TB-303 bass synthesizer which defined acid techno since the late 1980s. The TB-03 recreates the squeaks and high pitches of original. The button and knob layout is mostly the same as the original, but with a few extra features: A four digit LCD display is added, which makes it easer to keep track of programmed patterns and tempo. Another modern feature is the micro USB port, which exposes a 24-bit/96kHz audio interface and MIDI. It can be powered by USB or 4 AA batteries.
I was lucky to be gifted one for Christmas, so have had only little time to try things out. So far I’ve gone through the brief but instructive videos from Roland’s own Youtube channel listed below; plugged it in over USB and seen the MIDI messages in midisnoop (packaged in both Debian and Ubuntu); and programmed a snippet inspired by Josh Wink’s “Higher State Of Consciousness”.
TB-03 Quick Start video
- Using the Knobs to Adjust the Sound
- Pattern Playback
- Pattern Write (TB-303 Original Mode)
- Pattern Write (Step Recording Mode)
- Playing/Editing a Track
Also useful, this trick to copy patterns, using the Original 303 Mode.