April 17, 2012

Roland's Annual Synthesizer Tape Contest

In 1976 Roland Held the first of their annual Synthesizer Tape Contest for multi-track recordings of synthesizer. The Winner of 1981's contest, a Canadian by the name Amin Bhatia, was latter asked to be a judge in the competition. He had this to say:

"Any synth is able creation of huge sound with very little effort. So the new challenge is to move step presets flashy, instant gratification and to create a sound and musical style that Is unique to you. Think about what you want to say musically first and then dive in to all the toys"

That was translated from French and done so poorly that there probably shouldn't even be quotes around it. There were better translations but this one struck me as funny and I think the sentiment still comes through. He goes on:

"On one hand, it's always nice to know that the music you do is appreciated by your peers in this strange but exciting world of electronic music composition. On the other hand, listen to participants and other parts of the chance to win or lose will help you learn more about the effect of music on your audience. This is an important feedback, no matter the outcome"

Here's a nice little article about someone who also won the 1981 contest. Perhaps Gavin Hampshire and Amin Bhatia where in different categories. I believe there was at least an A and B class (separate categories for professionals and amateurs).

This is a handy little pocket tool that was given to contestants in 1984.

This song, Resuscitation by Masaya Matsuura (from minato-ku, Japan), was supposedly the 1981 B-class 1st prize winner (maybe there were three classes?). It was made with a Roland MC-8, System 700, Jupiter-8, Vocoder Plus as well as a Prophet 5, Minimoog, Yamaha CP-70 and Eventide H949 Harmonizer.

Keyboard Magazine also had their own reader's tape contest that ran from 1986 through the mid 90's.


  1. Very interesting (as usual!). Love the piece "Resuscitation." For some reason the ending part reminds me of a Nightmare on Elm St. movie. I guess some of those movies had that sort of ethereal music, being that a lot of the movies' themes were about dreams vs reality. Ehhemm, I digress...

  2. I wonder what the difference between an amateur and a proffessional was?

  3. like I meant, I wonder what the qualification was to be considered a professional, I guess they must have been actually recording artists.

  4. I bought two of these cassettes, any idea if they're on the internet anywhere?

  5. No, there are some torrents floating around but they all seem to be dead. I'd love to hear them though. Any plans to digitize your copies?

  6. I have a cassette of Roland's 8th synthesizer contest, which I've recorded onto my PC (as FLAC and MP3). I lost the cassette sleeve though, so I don't know the song names or artists.. I just stumbled upon one of the song names today, and I'm curious to know the rest.

    1. Wow! That is amazing, will you please share them? I would love to hear it!

    2. I've made them available for download here:
      FLAC: http://www.digitaldistortionbbs.com:81/Roland-8thSynthContest-FLAC.zip
      MP3: http://www.digitaldistortionbbs.com:81/Roland-8thSynthContest-MP3.zip

    3. Oh, terrific! Mind if I post about them? With all credit to you of course ;)

    4. Also, out of curiosity, where did you get the cassette?