Martyn Ware - tribute to Roland’s founder

Electronic music icon Martyn Ware has been paying tribute today to Ikutaro Kakehashi, the founder of Roland who has died at the age of 87 and was the originator of the design and technology of the brand. Kakehashi was one of the inventors of MIDI, and received a Technical Grammy Award in 2013.


Heaven 17 - Glenn Gregory, Martyn Ware - pic Chris Youd

Martyn (Human League / Heaven 17 / B.E.F.) says there is something unique about the design philosophy and the sound of Roland synthesizers that he works with. American synthesizers were designed for virtuosic keyboard playing, while Roland synthesizers were designed for people to explore their imagination.

Martyn still regularly uses his original System-100 for recording, and says it is one of the best-sounding synthesizers ever made. Roland was central to the early Human League - see our interview - and the TB-303 was particularly revolutionary. Martyn used Roland synths on his work with Terence Trent D’Arby and Tina Turner, and when Roland announced MIDI in 1983 it enabled artists like him to sync instruments together and create more powerful sounds.

He has listed all the Roland gear he has ever bought.

Roland System-100

Martyn Ware - “All the Roland gear I’ve ever bought…”


RE-201 Space Echo: one of the most popular tape delay-based echo machines ever produced
SH-3A Synthesizer: monophonic analog synthesizer with a new VCF and VCA


System-100 Synthesizer: Roland’s first attempt at a modular analog synthesizer
TR-66 Rhythm Arranger: Analog drum machine

Roland System-100 - pic by Kitmonsters


Roland System 700:System 700 Synthesizer: Roland’s first professional-quality modular synthesizer


Roland GR-500:GR-500 Guitar Synthesizer & GS-500 Guitar Controller: Roland’s first commercial guitar synthesizer system


Jupiter-4 JP-4: Roland’s first self-contained polyphonic synthesizer

Roland Jupiter-4 - pic by Kitmonsters


System 100-M Roland Studio System: semiprofessional modular synthesizer, fully modular successor to the System-100

SDD-320 Dimension D: rack-mounted stereo chorus effects unit.


TR-808 Rhythm Composer: One of the most popular programmable analog drum machines; its distinctive analog sounds, such as its cowbell sound and its kick drum, have become pop-music clichés, heard on countless recordings.

Roland TR-808 - pic by Kitmonsters


MC-4 MicroComposer: successor to the MC-8

TB-303 Computer Controlled Bass Line: synthesizer with built-in sequencer; manufactured from late 1981 to 1984

Roland TB-303

TR-606 Drumatix: programmable analog drum machine designed to be used with the TB-303
Jupiter-8 JP-8: 8-voice programmable analog synthesizer after the hugely successful Sequential Circuits Prophet-5 and Oberheim products

SDE-2000 Digital Delay: Roland’s first digital effects unit


Roland Juno-6 Polyphonic Synthesizer: Roland’s first synthesizer with digitally controlled oscillators

Roland SH-101: keytar with an optional “neck” modulation attachment

Roland SH-101


Roland TR-909 Rhythm Composer: drum machine popular during the early 1990s, the sounds of which (particularly the kick drum and open hi-hat) are still essential components of modern electronic dance music. The world’s first MIDI-equipped drum machine and Roland’s first to use digital sample playback combined with analog sound synthesis

Roland TR-909 - pic by Kitmonsters


Roland Juno-106 Programmable Polyphonic Synthesizer: programmable (128 patch memory locations), digitally controlled six-voice analog synthesizer, with MIDI and the ability to transmit button and slider information through SysEx

Roland Juno-106 - pic by Kitmonsters

Roland TR-707 and TR-727 Drum Machine: The TR-727 was essentially the same as the TR-707, except it had Latin-style sounds

Roland TR-707 - pic by Kitmonsters


Roland D-50 Linear Synthesizer: Roland’s first all-digital synthesizer, implementing its Linear Arithmetic synthesis (a form of sample-based synthesis combined with subtractive synthesis). The D-50’s descendants include the D-5 (1989), D-10 (1988), D-110 (rack version of D-10) (1988), and D-20


SP-700 sample player

SCC-1 GS/GM soundcard

Roland JV-80 Multi Timbral Synthesizer: A sort of simplified and more user-friendly D-70; spawned a whole family of synthesizers based on its architecture and sample set. The JV-80 also came in a 1U rack spaced unit aptly named, the JV-880 sound module.


Roland JP-8000 Analog Synthesizer: Roland’s first virtual analog synthesizer. Its technology was more similar to conventional PCM synthesis, such as in a JD-800, rather than the virtual analog synths of today that digitally model the behaviour of analog oscillators

XV-5080 Sound Module: True next generation synthesizer module and basis for the Fantom series of workstations. New high bit-depth samples, 128-voices, takes SRX expansion boards, and capable of loading sampler data


Roland V-Synth Synthesizer: 24-voice analog modeling synthesizer

Roland V-Synth