The Ultimate Guide to the TR-8S Rhythm Performer – Assign and Automate the Control Knobs

TR-8S Ultimate Guide

One of the really powerful performance features of the Roland TR-8S is the ability to assign different parameters to any of the Control Knobs on the 11 Instrument Tracks. You can then automate those parameters so they change over the course of a Pattern.

Automation in the TR-8S is called Motion Data, which is played and recorded using the Motion On and Motion REC Buttons, located on the left of the front panel, just above the INST Play and INST REC Buttons.

Let’s get right into how to do this.

Contributed by Alexander Marlowe for Roland Corporation Australia

Assigning Parameters to CTRL Knobs of Individual Instruments

  1. Hold the CTRL Select Button and turn the CTRL Knob of the first Instrument you want to assign and select the Parameter to be assigned.
  2. Continue holding the CTRL Select Button and turn the CTRL Knobs of each additional Instrument you want to assign and select the Parameter to be assigned.
  3. When all the desired assignments have been made release the CTRL Select Button.
For this example, assign the Attack Parameter to the Bass Drum CTRL Knob, the Snappy Parameter to the Snare CTRL Knob, and the Pan Parameter to the Closed High Hat CTRL Knob.

Automating the CTRL Knobs of Instruments

  1. Hold the Motion On Button and press the Clear Button to erase any existing Motion Data in the selected Pattern Variation.
  2. Press the Start/Stop Button to play the selected Pattern.
  3. Press the INST Play Button, to enter INST Play Mode, that way you’ll avoid recording any unintended notes while recording your Motion Data.
  4. Turn the CTRL Knob of the Bass Drum Track to adjust the Attack of the Bass Drum as the Pattern plays.
  5. To record your Attack Automation, press the Motion REC Button then turn the Bass Drum Track CTRL Knob as the Pattern plays.
  6. Press the Motion REC Button again to exit Motion Record Mode.
  7. Press the Motion On Button to playback your recorded Motion Data.
  8. To erase the recorded Motion Data for the Bass Drum CTRL Knob only, hold the Motion On Button and turn the Bass Drum CTRL Knob. The Display flashes ‘CTRL Erased’ to indicate Motion Data for that CTRL Knob has been erased.
  9. Repeat steps 4-6 with the CTRL Knobs of other Instruments to record Motion Data and automate their assigned Parameters.
  10. Be sure the Motion On Button is lit to playback your recorded Motion Data.


To “Spot-Record” Motion Data during only a portion of a Pattern, hold the Motion REC Knob and turn the CTRL Knob for which you want to record Motion Data, as the desired portion of the Pattern plays, then release the Motion REC Knob.
Article written by Alex Marlowe

Alex MarloweAlex Marlowe is a Composer/Producer, Musician and Consultant based in Melbourne, Australia. Alex has placed music in numerous movies and TV shows, and toured worldwide as a keyboardist with major artists. As a Teacher and Consultant, Alex has worked with platinum songwriters, music editors, producers and composers, and conducted courses in Music Production and Music Software, including at the Songwriting School of Los Angeles. You can find more info, and contact Alex at:

TR-8S Ultimate Guide

This Article is part of a series called The Ultimate Guide to the TR-8S Rhythm Performer, for the Guide’s Main Page click here.

Related Product

Related Posts

Scroll to Top


Created by Roland V-Drums specialist Simon Ayton, these patches were designed using the internal factory sounds and many of the techniques covered in the TD-50 guide. Enjoy exploring the possibilities!