roland mc 303

akai mpc

The term Groovebox was originally used by Roland corporation to refer to its MC-303 mobile music synthesizer, but the term has since entered into general use. It refers to a self-contained instrument for the production of live, loop-based electronic music with a high degree of user control facilitating improvisation.

A groovebox consists of three integrated elements: one or more sound sources, such as a drum machine, a synthesizer or a sampler, a music sequencer (recorder), and a control surface, i.e. a combination of knobs (potentiometer or rotary encoder), sliders and buttons, and display elements (LED and/or LCD).

The integration of these elements into a single system allows the musician to rapidly construct and control a pattern-based sequence, often with multiple instrumental or percussion voices playing simultaneously. These sequences may also be chained together into a song in a live and immediate way. Provision may be made for sequences and songs to be saved, retrieved from memory, and inserted into the current performance whilst playing. In some cases, an entire musical performance may be created by a single player with a single groovebox. In other cases, the groovebox is simply one instrument amongst many.

Groovebox style instruments have facilitated many performers, both amateur and professional, who may have previously been unfamiliar with electronic music, to explore the genre. Whilst some in the genre initially derided these instruments (in particular the MC-303) and the opening of the field as leading to a drop in standards, they are now generally accepted as having a legitimate place in the form. In addition, many performers and bands from outside the electronic community have integrated groovebox instruments into their shows, as a convenient way of incorporating electronic sound into a more traditional format.


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