Coming out in 1985, The TR-707 was once an overlooked and under utilised device, but with a synth and drum machine boom in the 90’s, producers and DJ’s made the 707 into a house hold name and legendary synth.
Daniel Evans takes you on a tour of the history of the Roland TR-707.
The 707 sound became a staple in the electronic music scene, particularly house and acid house, but it also found its place in Arabic pop music, being utilised in many popular electronic Arabic pop tracks and many Al Jeel or Jeel Geel songs. Al Jeel was a kind of New Wave style that became popular in Egypt that was seen as an alternative to popular forms of other foreign music that developed in the 1970’s. The 707 features minimalist sound selection and control functions, but packs incredible acoustic samples into a small package and delivers a warm and tight drum sound featuring fifteen digitally sampled sounds and the capability of 10-voice-polyphony. It has a distinct digital feel that is still desired by DJ’s and producers today because of its versatility in synchronising with other hardware and because of its fully featured interface.
The TR-707 has been used in famous pieces like “Need You Tonight” by INXS, “Move Your Body” by Marshall Jefferson, and “Washing Machine” by Mr Fingers to name a few. The particular unit showcased here has been modified or circuit bent to receive external control signals, which makes for exciting and unexpected modulations to standard beat programming.