One might suppose that the name of the Roland Corporation, synthesizer manufacturer of the first rank, was chosen to cloak its Japanese provenance. The name was actually chosen at random from a telephone book, and one of the main criteria for the name was musical, the fact of its soft consonants.
The company was founded in 1972, and for generations has been one of a select group of manufacturers of musical equipment whose name is familiar to many popular music fans—others include Zildjian, Marshall, Fender, and KORG.
The company’s R&D center is located in Hamamatsu, Japan, and right next door is a museum that lovingly showcases Roland’s impressive product line stretching all the way back to the early 1970s. Earlier this year, Roland released a groovy 360-degree video that takes you through every section of the museum so that you can see all the mouth-watering goodies for yourself—the building is not open to the public, so this is probably the closest you’ll ever get to scrutinizing these babies. (Note that most browsers support YouTube’s 360-degree implementation, but Safari does not.)
I’ve chosen the Jupiter-8 model from 1981 as my favorite. It looks like this:
The video below takes you in sequence through the following areas:
Rhythm Machine Squencer Area
BOSS Compact Effector Area
BOSS Multi Effector Area
Guitar Synthisizer Area
Did you know that Roland made accordions? An “effector,” it turns out, is the fancy name for a guitar effects pedal.
If you weary of the fish-eye lens approach and would like an even closer look at the gear, Roland has also set up a way to look at the stuff on Google Street View.
Even if you’re not that interested in synth technology, it’s still a fun ride—the music is really well chosen throughout.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
88 Roland Synthesizers from 1973 - 2010 Gif’d
‘All Hail The Beat’: a short history of the Roland Tr-808