Ever wonder about those ultra low bass kick drums? It all started with the Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer, which was released in 1980. This came right after the Linn LM-1, a drum machine with a natural sound. The tr 808 was at first ridiculed due to its sharp and artificial sound. This sound eventually become a part of hip-hop and is still going strong today. Today you can still hear the tr 808 kick sound, which shakes houses and rattles trunks worldwide.
The first band to use the tr 808 was Yellow Magic Orchestra who used it mostly for the hand claps. Marvin Gaye soon used the tr 808 in his “Sexual Healing” song, which became a smash hit. The robotic nature of this instrument is still moving the crowd in our modern world. What else can penetrate the bones and move the bodies of any crowd? While the 808 has morphed into other samples, the original is still a crowd pleaser and instantly recognizable with it's direct sound.
Other styles of music have embraced the tr 808 and you'll hear it in R&B, EDM and emerging genres. The sound is very basic and features a dry snare that cuts through the mix. The claps are very generic sounding but almost comical in their aural texture. The kick drum is the most recognized element of the 808 sound and never fails to get the listeners attention.
Let that deep kick seep right into your bones and see what happens. You may just get up and start dancing uncontrollably to it's pulsating beat. When used with a metronome, the tr 808 seems to be right at home. Try and blend the tr 808 with organic instruments like the piano for a new twist. Sprinkle on some guitar and you are sure to come up with an entirely new sound.
The future looks bright for the tr 808 sound and you can hear it constantly in hip-hop music. The sparse sonic texture of the drums open a lot of space in the mix for other instruments like vocals and horns. The artificial sound of the tr 808 was once frowned upon, but has become a staple in popular american music. Be sure and listen for it in clubs and raves! Chances are, people will be dancing right along with it.
The MPC 3000 is the modern cousin of the tr 808 and a key component of the development of rap music. This modular drum machine is a favorite of composers and recording artists due to it's portability and ease of programming. From complex beats to simple rhythms, this unit is full of tr 808 sounds to play with. One this is for sure, the 808 will be around as long as there is music to be made.