The Roland TR-808: the drum machine that revolutionised music

The congas ring cheekily, the cowbell plays a corroded chime, the snare is parched and cruel – and the bass drum, a hard bloom of air, is barely music at all. With these core sounds, abetted by a handful of others, a simple drum machine gave house, techno and hip-hop the language it still speaks today.

The Roland TR-808 went out of production in 1983, even as the music that depended on it was being formed. Now Roland has resurrected it as the TR-8. The new model features all the sounds of the original as well as those of its successor, the TR-909 (there is also a relaunched version of the TB-303, the imitation bass guitar that acid house producers used to produce disturbing, squelching undulations). The 909 certainly left its mark, its hi-hats becoming one of the hallmarks of techno’s froideur, but it’s the 808 that remains the most iconic and influential.

Until the 808 became available in 1980, drum machines were something you put on top of a living-room organ to play along in time with. “Suddenly there was a move to make rhythm machines that could be used in the professional market, to break away from this preset bossa nova thing,” says Sean Montgomery, a product manager at Roland. Roland aimed to recreate actual drum sounds, but the 808’s drum sounds, created by running an electrical current through transistors, sounded very little like the real thing. “They did it the best they could with the analogue technology, and it sounded shit,” says Montgomery with admirable frankness. The 808 went into commercial freefall.

But with units at low prices, relatively cash-strapped producers picked them up, and here the legend begins. Detroit techno producer Juan Atkins bought “the first 808 in Michigan” when he was still in high school, using it for his band Cybotron. “I had a class called Future Studies, about the transition from an industrial society to a technological society,” he says. “I just applied a lot of those principles to my music-making.” The 808 was the perfect tool for his future music, a “hi-tech funk” inspired equally by Kraftwerk and George Clinton, and was a cut above the primitive DR-55 drum machine he’d previously had. “The 808 allowed you to actually build your own patterns – you were able to put the kick drums and snares where you wanted them. It opened up a lot of creativity.”

Egyptian Lover with his Roland TR-808.
Egyptian Lover with his Roland TR-808. PR

Meanwhile, in New York, Afrika Bambaataa and the Soul Sonic Force had recorded their 1982 hip-hop track Planet Rock, giving the nascent style a bright shaft of daylight between it and the funk that had come before. Greg Broussard, a producer in Los Angeles calling himself The Egyptian Lover, found out that it was the 808 that gave the track its distinct character and went to play with it at a local music store. “I programmed the Planet Rock beat and fell in love with this machine,” he remembers dewily. “It blew me away. Everything sounded a bit toy-like, but at the same time it made you want to dance. I bought it right there on the spot.” After a self-taught crash course, he played it live the next day in front of 10,000 people in a sports arena with his Uncle Jamm’s Army DJ crew. “I didn’t have any other instruments – the beat was moving the whole crowd. Thousands of people were dancing to this one little drum machine.” Over in Detroit, Atkins was also feeding it into his sideline as a DJ. “We just took an 808 to the party, and made rhythm tracks on the fly – the place went crazy. It was something fresh, more than just playing a record.”

It struck a chord as an instrument that truly reflected the 80s. “Home computers were coming on the scene, and it just fitted in with that,” says Joe Mansfield, a drum machine collector who wrote this year’s pictorial history Beat Box: A Drum Machine Obsession. “It sounded futuristic, what you thought a computer would sound like if it could play the drums.” It began to seep into the mainstream, as the backbeat to Marvin Gaye’s Sexual Healing, and across the Atlantic to the UK into, firstly, the industrial and post-punk scenes, where Graham Massey of Manchester acid house act 808 State first encountered it.

“It had that industrial heritage, but had that soul heritage,” he says. “The Roland gear began to be a kind of Esperanto in music. The whole world began to be less separated through this technology, and there was a classiness to it – you could transcend your provincial music with this equipment.” Massey made hip-hop with the 808, and then, because he couldn’t afford anything else, used it for house too, making “dense, jungle-like” tracks that also deployed the 909. “On the 909 the kick was a bit more in your chest, a bit more of an aggressive drum machine. The 808 almost seems feminine next to it … the cowbell on the 808, that’s the thing that says mid-80s R&B to me – SOS Band, big dancefloor anthems, which were a massive thing in the north-west of England. It wasn’t just nerdy DJ culture, it was a ‘ladies’ night’ kind of music.”

The sounds became so much a part of dance music – where very often drums still don’t sound like drums – that it’s continued to endure, helped along by the digital versions made for production software. “Producers are searching through kits of tens of thousands of drum sounds and always coming back to the 808,” says Mansfield. “It’s embedded, it’s constant.” Hip-hop has continued to use it, with producers such as Lex Luger building intimidating 808 minimalism, and the juke artists of Chicago tapping its basic palette for their frenetically paced dance workouts.

Joe Mansfield and Beat Box drum machines.
Joe Mansfield and Beat Box drum machines. PR

These were heard by dubstep producer Tony Williams, inspiring his current Addison Groove project, which is based around the 808. “If you layer its bass drum, clap and snare on top of each other, it fills up such a specific but perfect frequency range that it sounds great in a club, at home, even on laptop speakers,” he says. Previously using a software version, he bought an actual 808 instead of buying a new car when superclub Fabric asked him to play a live set with one. “I shouldn’t really say this, but they’ve made it really easy to play live when you’re drunk,” he says in a languorous Bristolian drawl. “The sound palette is one of the best that’s ever existed – whatever you do is probably going to make people dance. And I really enjoy that, because I like a drink.”

The new incarnations are designed to continue this live heritage, as more producers gravitate from laptops towards the improvisatory potential of hardware. They’re unlikely to entirely replace the original, though, with their pungent whiff of madeleine; Broussard, AKA, The Egyptian Lover, has now hoarded six 808s, and his voice turns soft and fond when he talks about them. “These machines are like my children – I could never get rid of them.”

Addison Groove’s album Presents James Grieve is released on February 28 by 50Weapons. The Egyptian Lover realeases an anthology later this year by Stone’s Throw Records. Juan Atkins plays London’s Village Underground on March 8.

Cybotron – Clear
Kraftwerk’s Hall of Mirrors gets lit up with lasers, as electro-rap production lifts off to the transcendent plains of techno and changes dance forever.

Egyptian Lover – Egypt, Egypt
Another Kraftwerk riff, this time on Tour De France, with Broussard turning the heavy breathing from that’s track’s cycling efforts into energetic sexual performance.

MCADE – How Much Can You Take
An example of the crushing power of the 808’s low end, it takes John Carpenter’s Halloween riff and lays it over posterior-vibrating Miami bass.

Freeez – IOU
The UK group took US digifunk and sold it back across the pond as this anthemic paean to, er, vowels. The 808 provides robust, nasty backbone against the androgynous vocals.

Addison Groove – Footcrab
Made with a software version of the 808, this scatters bits of the vintage sound palette across a relentlessly stuttering vocal sample to make a killer US-UK hybrid. BBT

This article was amended to remove Egyptian Lover’s Freak-A-Holic from the top five, which was made using a Linn drum machine.


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How to install Tonido private cloud server on Ubuntu Linux

Tonido is a free application that allows you to access files on your computer from a web browser, from your handheld or any DLNA capable device. The Tonido server enables you to sync files between different devices and to share them securely with your friends so you have a private and secure Cloud. This tutorial is about installing Tonido server on Ubuntu Linux.


Original URL: https://www.howtoforge.com/tutorial/how-to-install-tonido-on-ubuntu/

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The TLA+ Hyperbook

Last modified 28 February 2014

The Hyperbook

This is the start of a hypertext “book” containing two tutorials:
Principles of Concurrent Computing and Specification of
Concurrent Systems

The tutorials are two tracks that share much text–especially at the
beginning. 

Both tutorials are based
on TLA+

The Principles track, which I hope will eventually be suitable
for an undergraduate course on concurrent computing, will mainly use
the PlusCal algorithm language rather than
TLA+ for describing algorithms.  There is also a TLA+
Proof
track that explains how to use the TLAPS
proof system
.

You will probably read the hyperbook with Adobe Reader,
but
Foxit Reader
also works. 

Other readers should also work, but it seems that Preview, the default
pdf reader on the Mac, does not. 

I welcome comments and suggestions on the form, style, and
contents. 

Also, please tell me if anything doesn’t work as you think it should. 

My email address is on my home page.

The hyperbook consists of a collection of pdf files; the root file is
start.pdf and the remaining files are in the folder
(directory) hyper-tla

They are distributed as a zip file that you can download (save, do not open) by

clicking

here

Extract (unzip) the contents into a convenient folder and open (probably by
double-clicking on) the file start.pdf

Be sure to follow the directions, which means clicking where it says

   If you are just starting to read
   this hyperbook, click here.

This leads you to the introduction About This Hyperbook

Read it. 

You will then know what to do next.

News

I am still rewriting some parts of the hyperbook, so some material may
be in an inconsistent state.  Read the About This Hyperbook
page for more information  . (Click on “If you are just starting…”
from the start page or on the “?” in the left margin from most other
pages.)

The LaTeX sources for the hyperbook have been released. 
See below.

The Source Files

The LaTeX source files for the hyperbook are now available for
download. 

One reason for this is to encourage you to contribute your own
material to the hyperbook. 

(Contact me before starting if you want that material to appear
in the official release of the hyperbook.) 

You could also write your own hypertext documents using the
commands that I created for the purpose. 

Reading the source files will allow you to figure out how to do
it.  The file hypertlabook.sty and the packages it imports
define the relevant commands. 

The source files can be downloaded
by
clicking

here

Extracting the files from thie zip file creates a folder (directory)
hyper-tla

To create the pdf files that constitute the hyperbook, open a Unix
shell window from which you can run
pdflatex
and connect to the hyper-tla folder. 

(To do this in Windows, you can install
Cygwin.) 

In that shell, run the command
sh rundist.sh.

Versions

I hope to post new versions of the hyperbook continually. 

So, far I haven’t been very good at doing that, but I hope to do
better.  The web site
TLA+ | The Way To Specify
may announce major changes. 

However, I may post a new version and change the last modified
date of this page whenever something you should read has changed–even
if it’s just the correction of a minor typo. 

Downloading and unzipping a file is easy, so check this page
regularly.

Version of 28 February 2015
  • Revised Section 7 (Mutual Exclusion)
  • Revised Section 10-12 of
    The TLA+ Proof Track.
  • Rewrote Section 17 (Temporal Logic).
Version of 24 March 2014
  • Revised the first two sections of
    The TLA+ Proof Track
    to conform to the current version
    of TLAPS,
    and added a section explaining the proof language.
Version of 28 November 2013
  • Finished Section 7.8 on the bakery algorithm.
Version of 19 November 2013
  • Rewrote material explaining temporal logic and moved
    it to Section 17 of the Math track.
  • Rewrote the first six sections of the Mutual Exclusion
    section of the Principles track.
Version of 24 May 2013
  • Moved the old section 4 (The Bounded Channel and Bounded Buffer)
    to section 8
    of the Principles track.
  • Added sections 3 and 5 on the Die Hard problem
    and section 6 on Alternation.
  • Rewrote much of the rest of sections 1, 2, and 4.
  • Continued writing section 7 (Mutual Exclusion)

<!–
–>

Version of 14 July 2012
  • Finished description of the One-Bit Protocol
    in Section 5 of the Principles track.
  • Modified the Proof track to describe the SMT backend prover.
  • Corrected an error in the Simple PlusCal Reduction Theorem
    in Section 4.8.

<!–
–>

Version of 12 April 2012
  • Added Section 8, An Input/Output Specification on
    the Specification track.
  • Began a new Section 19, Debugging with TLC.
  • Began the Principles track.
  • Added descriptions of LAMBDA, SUBSET
    and UNION.

<!–
–>

Version of 30 January 2012
  • Added a summary of TLA+, reachable from the S
    button on each page.
  • Finished the Miscellaneous Constructs section
    of the Math section.
  • Added a tiny start of the Specification track.
  • Gave up trying to indicate recent modifications
    in the document.

<!–
–>

Version of 10 October 2011
  • Expanded Section 3.7 and added Section 3.8 in the
    section on Euclid’s Algorithm.
  • Added The Bounded Channel and Bounded Buffer,
    the final section on both tracks.
  • Began The Bounded Buffer section of the
    Proof track.
  • Made some further progress on the Math section.


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