Monday, August 6, 2012

Roland MSQ-700 MIDI DCB Multi-Track Digital Keyboard Recorder brochure, 1984

Roland MSQ-700 MIDI DCB Multi-Track Digital Keyboard Recorder 4-page brochure from 1984.

It's been too long, Roland. Too long. I haven't blogged about anything totally amaz-balls about Roland for over half a year. Eight months even. Time for a big Roland bear-hug.

For the longest time in the late 80s and I think even into the early 90s, there had been a MSQ-700 and a DrumFire drum trigger device sitting in a downtown pawn shop. I wanted them both for like forever. but never got around to buying them. I would go "pawning" every weekend with my bestie and they would be sitting there. Sad. And lonely.

And then one day after years and years, they were both just gone. GONE! And for some reason, my yearning turned to disgust and ever since I've had a serious illogical hate-on for the MSQ-700. Oh, I still wanted it, but just so I could sit there staring at it with squinting beady little eyes.

Over time, that hatred has died down a little bit. And it got a little better when this brochure landed in my sticky little hands. Doesn't that violet colour on the inside pages just sooth the soul? I think they paint prison cell walls that colour to keep the inmates passive.

Yeah, this brochure is ten kinds of awesome.

For one, it pulls Roland's "We design the future" tag line all the way into 1984. This tag line started life earlier in the 1980s as "We want you to understand the future", and could be found on such famous ads as this 2-pager for the Jupiter 8,  and the 1-pagers for the TR-808 and TB-303/606.

But I guess Roland found that tag line a little awkward, so they trimmed it up nicely into "We design the future" and around 1982 started slapping it onto brochures for their Rhythm Machines (hello 808, 606, 303!) and SH-101.


The new tag line also appeared in some Roland ads such as this 1983 2-page ad for Roland's whole family of products.

 But this MSQ-700 brochure was printed in March 1984 - showing that although the tagline was slowly being discontinued as early as 1983 (it didn't appear in 83's ads for Roland's Juno 6 or Juno 60  ads) it was still actively being used as late as 1984.

Looking inside the brochure, the first line really does pop out at you:
"The first MIDI-compatible sequencer in the world."
Really?  I knew it was an early one. But "the first"? I just had to do some Googlin'.

I quickly came across a great April 1996 Sound On Sound article on the MSQ-700 written by Steve Howell. It pretty much explains every little detail - including the fact that "MSQ" stands for Midi SeQuencer. It also notes that it was Roland's first sequencer, as well as an "underrated little sequencer from the early days of MIDI". But it doesn't mention that it was THE FIRST.

Another search result that temporarily distracted me from further blogging was Vintage Synth Explorer's Sequencer page. It has info on a wack of sequencers including a small section on the 700, but again, no mention of it being "the first" MIDI compatible sequencer in the world. That page also led me to Roland's manual archive page. Wowza. Bookmarked.

The "Music Sequencer" Wikipedia page also lists it as "one of the earliest multitrack MIDI sequencers (8tr)", referencing the Emulator Archives as its source. But when I clicked to go over to the Emulator Archives Web page, IT WAS GONE! This was definitely going to distract me from blogging.

A quick WhoIs check-up later, I found that  the domain expired on July 20, 2012 and is pending renewal or deletion. GAH!  I panic'd, jumped to Vintage Synth Explorer's forum page and wrote a small post asking if anyone knew what was going on.

Then, when I got my wits back, I did a bit more Googling and found out that the site was created waaaaay back when by Rob Keeble - the man behind AMSynth modules. I've since sent him an email to see wussup.

In the end, after all the searching, I didn't actually get my answer on whether this was actually the first MIDI compatible sequencer. But I had a fun time looking.  So, I'll have to take Roland's word for it. 

The rest of the brochure is classic Roland awesomeness. Big photos. Great diagrams. In a word, dreamy.

And, of course, a little bit of extra promotion on the back page. This time for their "newest" drum machine - the TR909, and also their Jupiter 6. Both include small descriptions and specifications.

Nice way to end a brochure. And a nice way to end a blog post. Time to enjoy today's great weather.

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