Acid History | Bleader

Acid History

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There's an interesting history of the Roland TB-303 synthesizer over at the No Dough Music blog. The 303 failed to catch on doing what it was designed to do (providing bass lines for musicians working without a full band) but turned out to be world-shiftingly good at something its creators probably never imagined (making the mind-altering throbs and squeals that would inspire the subgenre of dance music called acid house, which in turn provided the foundation for the first wave of UK rave culture). The 303 wouldn't even be a footnote in the history of popular music if it weren't for a house-music group called Phuture, who discovered the box's consciousness-raising qualities pretty much by accident and whose single "Acid Tracks" would provide both a name and a sonic template for acid house. And "Acid Tracks" probably would never have caught on if legendary Chicago DJ Ron Hardy weren't a badass:

[Phuture] took the tape-only recording to DJ Ron Hardy who loved the record so much that he immediately played it at his own club night but it's strangeness didn't initially strike a chord with the Music Box crowd where Ron Hardy was resident. Instead it left the dance floor empty.

A stubborn Ron Hardy did not take to this well and forced the clubbers to listen to the record again. This time some people made their way to the dance floor beginning to understand the bizarre melody pumping out of the speakers. Convinced this was the beginning of something new, Ron Hardy chose to play it a third time. This time the club embraced the record as they finally seemed to understand the point of this strange music and the track went down a storm, so Ron Hardy being Ron Hardy, decided before the night was over to give the record one final spin. It was on the fourth play of playing this record that the place truly erupted. Legend says, people were screaming hysterically whilst other were caught in a hypnotic track locked to the monotonous groove punctuated by it's cowbell percussion.

Maybe not the most elegant prose, but you get the point. Music and more after the jump:

One of the main reasons the 303 failed in its intended purpose is that it was almost aggressively difficult to work with. Programming it is so counterintuitive that Roland's decision to release it that way just boggles the mind. If you'd like to try your hand at taming one virtually, Propellerhead's Rebirth software—which includes a 303 emulator as well as Roland's significantly more user-friendly TR-808 and TR-909 drum machines—is now available as an iPhone app.

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