I’ve just met Ikutaro Kakehashi, the founder of Roland Instruments and the man who “invented” MIDI (he initiated discussions between electronic music manufacturers to develop a universal communication method). For anyone who’s ever been involved in music production you’ll know what a massive influence Roland and MIDI have had on technology over the past few decades.
Mr Kakehashi’s a kind of foreboding looking character but, at nearly 80 years old, he’s an impressively forward thinking, charming, charismatic and witty guy. I was priveleged to be invited to his receiving of a honorary professorship at Glamorgan University’s creative industries school, which is sponsored by Roland. It’s an impressive site (and sight!) which should hopefully push forward the future of the creative industries and music in Wales.
I was pretty spell-bound by Kakehashi’s hour long “lecture” about music technology that he interspersed with slides and videos. It was fascinating to hear what he had to say about his past (orphaned at 2yrs old in Osaka, hospitalised for four years as a young man), his business (setting up his own electronics store in 1954, designing Hammond organs, cajoling the defiantly anti-electronic Oscar Peterson to appear on one of his adverts) and the future of music technology. This was the area where he had the most passion. He talked at length about Roland’s audio visual products and how he sees this as a big area for the future. Especially with much of the technology being instinctive and easy to use. Full audio-visual sets from us musicians, without the need for world-class VJs may not be too far away….
Anyway, suffice to say that it was a very interesting afternoon and after his lecture i was lucky enough to swap a few words with the man himself and get given a copy of his book. Not a bad buffet afterwards, either!