Acid Dub - Composing Real-Time Electronic Dance Music: How studio and performance based- practices combine to create Acid

David Haberfeld



The live performance explores the iconic TB-303 Bassline Synthesizer through time and space with an all hardware live electronic dance music (EDM) performance. The performance will be a live improvisation with the TB-303 as the focused sound. Presenting real time sonic examples born from the unique TB-303 sound and demonstrate its significant contribution to the sonic development of EDM since Acid House.

Roland’s TB-303 Bassline synthesizer was manufactured as an electronic bass accompaniment machine. The TB-303 was conceived from the same idea as the drum machine. Although proving more difficult to program than a drum machine, the 303 did not resemble the bass guitar sound that guitarists were seeking at that time, ultimately leading to the initial in the early 1980s.

From then DJs picked up the inexpensive and discontinued 303. The short repeating sequences of the 303 and its peculiar sound became appealing to the burgeoning producer. Further manipulating the limited real-time controls they were able to produce a squelching bubbling bass timbre that engaged dance floors and the sonic meaning of Acid House was born. Music technology companies have since continued to produce versions that emulate or clone the 303 in various forms. As much as Rock ’n Roll owes its existence to the electric guitar, EDM found its electric guitar in the form of the TB-303.

This particular performance extends the stylistic parameters of the genre of Acid through a Dub Music approach by slowing the tempo down and making use of spatial audio effects such as delays and reverbs to create further density . The performance makes use of 3x 303, consisting of an original TB-303, a modified TB-303 known as the Devilfish and a recent clone the TB-03. The iconic TR-808 drum machine provides the minimal drum pattern. This performance was recorded in a single take with no predetermined arrangement or form, all composed in real-time with no post production.


David Haberfeld is an electronic dance music artist, producer, composer, performer, DJ, academic and educator, since the early 1990s. Best known for his productions and live performances under the artist moniker Honeysmack. In 1999, he was an Australian Record Industry Association (ARIA) finalist nominee for Best Dance Music Release for "Walk on Acid"—which sampled Burt Bacharach's "Walk on By" earning David a co-writing credit with the Grammy and Academy awarded songwriter. His work as an energetic and colourful live electronic act has earned him a rare respect on the Australian live rock circuit, performing live electronica at festivals nationally and abroad.

His dynamic performances and productions are purely hardware based and centre on Roland’s iconic machines of the 1980s including the TB-303, TR-909 and TR-808. These machines were pivotal in the development of electronic dance music, and David continues to push stylistic parameters and explore new contexts with these vintage machines through his research in composing real-time electronic dance music. His work strongly features modular synthesis and enjoys the creative possibilities each new configuration and performance can sonically provide. As an accomplished artist and academic he embodies a diverse mix of experiences and continues to explore and challenge new thinking around music, sound, media arts and creativity more broadly. David is in the final stages of his PhD in music composition at Monash University.