Monday, August 20, 2012

Roland MC-8 Micro-Composer "If you can hum a tune..." ad, International Musician 1978

Roland MC-8 Micro-Composer "If you can hum a tune..." two-page black and white advertisement from page 240 and 241 in the August (UK)/September(US) 1978 issue of International Musician and Recording World Magazine.

I've been infatuated with a certain beast lately. No, not the MC-8. The Titanoboa (I can see all of my Facebook friends rolling their eyes and groaning as they read this. It may have been the topic of a status update or two).

You can blame the History Channel really. They have been hyping the Titanoboa - Monster Snake TV show recently and I finally got to watch the full two hours while hiding out from the world last Friday night.. 

I can't help but think the MC-8 is kinda like the Titanoboa of the sequencer world. A rare beast of another era, with analog synth fanatics drooling over every feature and function when finally digging one up in the back corner of a pawn shop or a retro synth studio somewhere.

And like the respect the Titanoboa gets from scientists, this ad is giving the MC-8 the respect and real-estate that it deserved at the time. Spread out amongst two pages, with a HUGE ad-title and an image of the actual machine so large you can make out some of the labels and settings on the front panels. Yum. And, that UK two-pager also ran for three consecutive months. Nice.

Meanwhile, in the US, Roland decides to give this Titanosequencer only a half-page. Boo! Makes me a little cranky.

The actual ad is a bit of a mixed bag. The beauty might lie in its ugliness. Probably much like Titanoboa itself.

The ad-title is big. I mean *really* big. And because the ad-copy is so much smaller, it gives the illusion that the ad-title is even bigger.  Plus it's in full-on caps, which makes it even harder to read.

Someone even figured this out, but rather than try and fix it, decided to make matters worse by increasing the size and boldness of the first letter of the first word (IF) as well as the M and C in MICRO-COMPOSER.

But, that's not even the dog's breakfast. Look at that ad-copy. Ironically, all that verbal diarrhea is to explain how *easy* the MC-8 is to operate and make music. I'm serious. Read it. I'd give anything for a bullet point. Or eight. Anything to make this thing more readable.

And then they go and throw around terms like crotchet and minim. Good lord. I'm going to stop there. If only because every time I see the word "crotchet" I giggle because it sounds dirty.

So, the ad may not be a design and readability success, but historically it is the bees knees. Mostly because of what is missing.

Other Roland ads that were running in International Musician during this time period, including this awesome "Groupies aren't everything" advertisement and even larger multi-page/multi-instrument promo spreads, included contact info for their European distributor Brodr, Jorgensen (U.K.) Ltd.

But there isn't any evidence of BJ in this MC-8 advertisement. This one is pure Roland with only Osaka identification. And pointing readers to their "local dealer" for more info.

Interesting stuff.

I wish I had something witty to say about Titanoboa to end this post. If I think of something, you, the reader, will never even have known this sentence existed. But coming up with something before this goes live is probably 1 in a million.

Much like coming across the fossils of Titanoboa. <--- see what I did there.  :D

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