Roland MC-8 Micro-Composer

Vintage Roland MC-8 Sequencer Archive

Yellow Magic Orchestra / Hideki Matsutake MC-8 Demo

Ralph’s friend Akiko translated this for us:

Hideki Matsutake is explaining what is MC8 and how it was used in the Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO)’s concert tour in ’80.

In this video, he says as follows
0:00 “Is there anyone who has this?” (laugh)
0:06 “There’s someone raising his hand….must be our staff.”
0:12 “This was VERY expensive in those days….as much as you could buy a car.”
0:17 “You could have bought two Carola.  ‘Cause it was 700000 yen then.”
0:24 “We’ve experienced many things with this…”
0:27 “As for YMO, it was MC8 and the combination of units after all.”
0:31 “Ah yes…it was… really….. beyond human power.”
0:38 “But it wasn’t perfect.”
0:39 “Yeah.”
0:40 ” As you know, it sometimes became out of control.”
0:50 “Today, it has data in it.  In those days, the data was transferred from cassette, but since it is not stable, I used MD.”
1:03 “We went to Masayuki’s office to test it the other day.”
1:15 “We worked on the original data cassette at that time.”
1:20 “That’s right.”
1:21 “And then, we really had a hard time.”
1:25 “The cassette, this one as well as the other we brought, the pinch roller was gone. So it didn’t read data…and it was hard after that too.
1:33 “But we were able to read it anyway.”
1:35 “As for *****, did it take about 3 minutes to read the data?”
1:39 “Well….yeah, it did. It took as long as the playing time.”
1:50 ” From here, automatic playing is sent.”
1:55 “Now, let’s listen to the sound in it”
2:06 “Which tune is this?”
2:10 “You don’t know, right?  It is playing backwards.”
2:22 “Today you’re going to run this MC8 here.”
2:28 “Right.  With this one called Immu(???) and sequencer, I will play ****(a song title?) live.”

That’s it.  I couldn’t understand completely what he was saying.  Those I didn’t understand was probably song titles and names of instruments.  Anyway, there must be the video in which he plays/runs MC8 following this, but I haven’t looked for it yet.


January 23, 2010 - Posted by | Interviews & Articles, Music, Videos


  1. Thanks for the translation. At 2:28 “Immu” = the E-mu custom modular he is standing next to. I think he used this and a Moog IIIc with the MC-8 during YMO’s 1980 world tour (up until then they had just the Moog and MC-8 when performing live). (Also less importantly at 0:17 “Carola” = “Corolla” as in the Toyota. I don’t know what song he’s talking about at the end, and can’t find the relevant video)

    There’s another video featuring them programming an MC-8 here:

    I believe YMO would not have existed if it were not for the MC-8 – apparently they tried their take on electronic exotica without a sequencer at first but didn’t really get anywhere. They used an MC-8 for all their albums up until “BGM”, where they started using an MC-4. For their 1983 tour they got lazy and used tapes for backing tracks.

    They also used that “Invention” demo in their 1980 tour a few times, it’s on at the end of the compilation album “World Tour 1980”.

    Matsutake also used the MC-8 in Ryuichi Sakamoto’s solo album “Thousand Knives of Ryuichi Sakamoto” (1978, released a month before YMO’s debut), and probably several other albums around then (maybe Haruomi Hosono’s Cochin Moon).

    Comment by Zilog Jones | February 15, 2010 | Reply

    • Wow, didn’t know about YMO’s use of the Bach Invention program- how cool!! I found a Youtube video of it, so I’ll add that to the blog post. Thanks for all the info!!

      Comment by peahix | February 20, 2010 | Reply

  2. The shown sequence sounds very much like 4th bar of intro to the song Behind The Mask from YMO’s 1979 album Solid State Survivor. To not spoil it if you haven’t heard album yet (it’s an amazing disc), here is a link to live version:

    Also there is a video of YMO members programming this very song on MC-8 back in the day!
    Here it is:

    Album credits say “Computer programming by Hideki Matsutake”, so it must be him pushing the buttons in this video as well.
    The second (moody) piece which they code in video is Insomnia from the same album. Third song featured here is called Solid State Survivor as the album itself.
    Perhaps the best known song of YMO is Rydeen, but it is not in this video.

    Comment by PinWizz | February 18, 2010 | Reply

    • Wow, thanks so much for the link to that YMO video, I’ll definitely post it in the blog! If you have the time and inclination, it would be great to get an English translation of this!

      Comment by peahix | February 20, 2010 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: