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Digital music pioneer, Roland founder Kakehashi dies at 87

Instrument developer and MIDI godfather changed the way music is made

Roland founder Ikutaro Kakehashi speaks in July 2013 at the beginning of a concert commemorating his winning the Technical Grammy Award in the city of Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, where the company is headquartered.

TOKYO -- Without him, rap, techno, hip-hop and house music would hardly have sounded the way it does today. Synthesized bass lines and electronic drum beats are possible because of something called MIDI, or Musical Instrument Digital Interface, a global technical standard that allows a variety of electronic musical instruments, computers and related devices to connect and interact with one another, regardless of manufacturer.

MIDI was proposed by Ikutaro Kakehashi, the founder of the iconic electronic musical instrument manufacturer Roland, in the early 1980s. He is known as the godfather of MIDI and is enshrined in the Rock Walk Hall of Fame in Hollywood. Kakehashi died on April 1 at the age of 87.

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