The iconic Roland TB-303, often shortened to the “303”, has an interesting history and now lives on as an enamel pin badge.
Originally, it was designed to emulate the sound of an electric bass guitar and targeted at musicians looking for a digital accompanist. Many find this incredulous, as its squelchy tone and short looping arpeggios, do not even vaguely resemble a real bass guitar!
The result was that consumers displayed little interest in this bass player in a box and the TB-303 was a commercial failure. It was discontinued in 1984 just three years after its release. However, the instrument had a second life when a group of electronic musicians from Chicago known as Phuture picked up a cheap TB-303 and explored its full liquid potential. After playing around with the unit for a few years, many attribute their release “Acid Trax” in 1987 as the first Acid House release.
However, for many Acid had already been debuted several years prior, when Indian musician Charanjit Singh recognised the instrument’s untapped and unintended potential to create liquid basslines. His album Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat was the result of various experimentations with the unit and is now widely recognised as possibly the first album featuring Acid basslines.
Unfortunately, “Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat” had only a minor impact on the development of electronic music at the time and it was when Phuture’s “Acid Trax“ was released in 1987 that the worldwide spread of Acid House took hold.
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