The Roland MC-09 PHRASE LAB is the most underrated electronic bassline of all time.

When I think of electronic basslines the first thing that pops into my head is the infamous TB-303. The TB-303 has become a signature sound in many dance music genre’s such as techno and acid house due to it’s psychedelic sound.

Basslines like these were never initially “intended” to be played in this fashion however. They were intended to create an electric bass sound that would resemble that of an amplified bass guitar. Programming a bass melody became an alternative way to just strumming one. But quickly when it got into the hands of artists/musicans they started to tweak the parameters (controlled by potentiometers) of the instrument in real time creating a very unique sound that is very psychedelic in nature.

The MC-09 was born 20 years after the TB-303 around the start of the new millennium but not just with the intent of being a guitar bassline emulation but to be a stand alone psychedelic party funk monster generator, extreme.

After reading the manual it is clear that the intention of the MC-09 was to do it all; to create the drum groove, to create the fluctuating mobius bass melodies, to add effects (common in all electronic music) and to be able to mix the sounds in the instruments three part channel audio looper/mixer section which allows for the combination of audio layers all in real time.

Here is a video demonstration of me using the instrument and the many facets of it to compose in real time.

It has LEAD sounds, BASS sounds (if you want to get a TB-303 sound) and a drum rhythm section. You are able to record for example, one of the many LEAD sounds to one of the audio loopers and then a drum section followed by a bass sound and then have all the layers playing simultaneously. This allows for incredible depth for live composing that I have not seen on any other bassline.

It has MIDI IN/OUT ports on the back allowing it to speak to other instruments easily, for example; if you were to synchronize the clock of it to another instrument. It has a standard RCA output (stereo) so you can plug it into speakers or a mixer. But it also has inputs so you can bring in sounds from other instruments like a guitar and loop it. It contains a SMARTMEDIA card slot with potential backup storage to a maximum of 256MB to save additional patterns to be recalled later.

This instrument has an incredibly steep learning curve. It is not intuitive. I would recommend reading the manual in it’s entirety which is available online.

I have created a two part video tutorial explaining how to create music from scratch on the MC-09 Phrase Lab because I have studied the complex instrument. I hope this may be informative!



Happy jamming!