Since its beginnings in 1972, Roland has become one of the most influential music brands in modern history. In 400 photo-packed pages, this book tells the story of how they got there, and how they brought the music world along for the ride.
Few music companies have had Roland’s sheer technological impact. INSPIRE THE MUSIC details the creation of new instruments doing undreamed-of things: rhythm boxes that played what you told them to, guitars that could make any sound imaginable, grand pianos that didn’t need strings, drum kits you could carry in one hand... seen from within the music world in which they were born, and within the musical universe they helped create.
Roland’s music machines have inspired stories, legends, and outright myths. Through research and interviews with Roland’s designers, we’ll tell the amazing true stories behind gear like the JUPITER-8 and other iconic synthesizers, the Space Echo and its role in the roots of Jamaican dub culture, the Octapad’s conquest of Indian music, the Loop Stations’ reinvention of composition and performance, the inspiration and promise of MIDI, how sampling married synthesis, beatboxes and stompboxes and grooveboxes – including the genre-defining TR-808, TR-909, TB-303 – and much more!
INSPIRE THE MUSIC also celebrates the community that Roland built, bringing you 90+ interviews and stories covering the work of world-famous recording artists, session and touring musicians, beatmakers and producers, award-winning recording engineers, educators, songwriters, and soundtrack composers – and those who designed and built these machines, and the creative impulses that drove them.
In this book, introduced by legendary hitmakers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, Usher, and more), you’ll enter a world of Roland stories. Meet one of Elton John’s favorite pianos, learn how electronic drums saved Butch Vig’s touring career, and how a guitar synthesizer did the same for Joni Mitchell. See defining moments in hip-hop, pop, techno, R&B, and be there when acid house was born. Get inspired by Billy Duffy (The Cult), Bonnie McIntosh (Selena Gomez), Buffy Sainte-Marie, Clint Black, Clive Deamer (Radiohead), DJ Jazzy Jeff, DJ Pierre (Phuture), Don Lewis (the man who inspired MIDI), The Egyptian Lover, Howard Jones, Jean-Michel Jarre, Johnny Marr (The Smiths), Guy Fletcher (Dire Straits), Nick Rhodes (Duran Duran), Nita Strauss, Omar Hakim (Weather Report, David Bowie, Madonna), Orbital, Peaches, Rachel Z (Peter Gabriel), Richie Hawtin, Roger Taylor (Duran Duran), Sister Bliss (Faithless), Culture Club producer Steve Levine, Steve Stevens (Billy Idol), Swizz Beatz, Tadao Kikumoto (inventor of the TR-808), Thomas Dolby, and many others.
Fifty years of favorites, fashions, frontiers – and the occasional flop
Roland gear has helped define genres and build trends from rock to hip-hop to gospel to world music. In six detailed chapters, you’ll revisit old favorites and meet incredible gear that you didn’t know existed – whether you’re a beatmaker, a guitar hero, or a student of classical piano.
GROOVE: From the original Rhythm Aces and CompuRhythms to the TR-808 and TR-909 rhythm boxes, the TB-303 bass synth, the Grooveboxes, the SP-Series pad samplers, and modern beatmaking from AIRA to Zenbeats.
DRUMS: The evolution of electronic drums from the triangular Alpha Drums to modern V-Drums that play, feel, and sound like acoustic drums, as well as the Octapad, the Handsonic, and reimaginings of traditional drums like the cajón and taiko.
GUITAR: Meet the JC-120 Jazz Chorus guitar amp – a classic that’s still being made after 47 years – the iconic BOSS compact pedals, the world’s first guitar synthesizer (and its many descendants), the genre-defining Loop Stations, and more.
KEYS: The groundbreaking EP-30 electronic piano, the VK-Series organs, revolutions in sound creation and playing feel, the V-Piano, modern digital grand pianos that can fool experts, and the hidden power of the V-Accordion.
SYNTH: Follow the journey from the SH-1000 – Japan’s first synthesizer – through the iconic JUPITER-8, the seismic impact of the D-50, new explorations like the JD-800 and V-Synth, and the brave new world of Boutique Synths and Roland Cloud.
STUDIO: Step behind the glass and learn about the Space Echo, the Roland Rack and the many sound effects it inspired, sequencers and how MIDI changed the world, and the ever-growing interaction between the worlds of hardware and music computers.
And because the endless quest for new and exciting ideas is bound to have some missteps and blind alleys, INSPIRE THE MUSIC includes a number of Roland ideas that didn’t work out. You’ll learn about the studio that needed a stylus, a keyboard that made noise whenever you moved your head, surround sound that didn’t surround, and other interesting Roland moments.
The Bjooks team
INSPIRE THE MUSIC was created by Kim Bjørn with Roland’s full cooperation and assistance. It features contributions from industry experts like Peter Kirn, Alex Ball, Adam Douglas, Collin Russell, Daniel Orkin, Scott Harper, Mike Metlay, Gordon Reid, and others.
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