Roland x0x Programming - Concepts

concepts - about patterns - pattern writing - about tracks - track writing


In this manual I am going to compare the Pattern programming of 3 Roland x0x units, that use the same drum-like way of programming songs into the built-in sequencer:
- the TB-303 is a bass synth, but programs like a drum computer
- the TR-606 is an analog drum computer, much like the TR-808 but without the sound shaping buttons
- the TR-707 is a drum computer using basic samples, it's identical to the TR-727 except this uses latin sounds
- the TR-909 is a drum computer using a combination of basic samples and analog generated sounds

When something is explained on these pages, it accounts for all of the units. I will make a note where the units differ, but only when this explanation supports a better understanding of the similarities.

The drum machines TR-505, TR-626 have a very neat display to create the steps.
The TR-808 and TR-909 are described by using the Boutique TR-08 en TR-09 machines.
The sequencers inside the SH-101 synthesizer and the MC-202 synthesizer/composer are misfits in the x0x series, in the sense that these units use a linear sequencer.

The sequencer of each unit uses the exact same concepts: it is a Pattern based sequencer, so you first create some different Patterns into the memory. These Patterns are then placed into the Bars of a Track to create a song. The sequencer will play the Track from the first Bar to the last Bar in sequence. Each machine has different memory limitations, but besides that, there's not much difference, except for the layout of the buttons on each panel and a few specific programming possibilities.

  TB-303 TR-606 TR-707 & TR-727 TR-808
Pattern memory        
Pattern Groups I, II, III and IV I and II A, B, C and D  
Section A and B     A and B, or A + B alternating
can be changed during play
Patterns 1 to 8 1 to 16 1 to 16 A and B base patterns: 1-12 (=24)
A and B fill patterns: 1-4 (=8)
Total amount 64 32 64  
Track memory        
Tracks 1 to 7 1 to 8 I, II, III and IV 1 to 12
Available Patterns per Track 16 16 64 24 + 8
Maximum Bars per Track 64 64
256 for Tack 8
998, distributed over the 4 Tracks  
Max Track chaining 4 4, and max 256 Bars 0 all tracks

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