It makes a change to see some cool piece of gadgetry being tested in the UK before it becomes available anywhere else.
The Tenori-on is just one such piece of kit. It’s a conceptual musical instrument, made up of 256 “playable” buttons in a 16×16 grid, plus five function keys on the left and right sides of it.
If you’re a musical purist who likes traditional instruments, then you might not get on too well with the Tenori-on. This “new digital musical instrument for the 21st century” has been designed by Toshio Iwai and Yamaha to “allow everyone to play music intuitively, creating a ‘visible music’ interface.”
The videos certainly look impressive. You’re unlikely to be playing Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, or even Michel-Jarre on this thing, but you could have a lot of fun and get some interesting, random, dance/trance like textures and rhythms from it.
The specifications state that it has 96 clocks note resolution, gate time of 10ms-9,990ms, ten octave range, 40-240bpm tempo, nine types of scales, six performance modes (Score, Random, Draw, Bounce, Push, Solo), 64 note polyphony, AWM2 tone generation with 239 normal voices and 14 percussion kits, and two effects processors.
It also features MIDI IN, to allow two Tenori-on instruments to be synced together (sounds like fun), plus MIDI OUT for controlling other instruments, or possibly even a lighting rig (even on a 16×16 mono-LED grid, the visual effects of notes being played is pretty cool).
There’s also a line out so you can beef up performances from the built-in 1-watt stereo speakers.
It will run on 6xAA batteries, giving up to five hours of play time, or an AC adaptor.
It’s worth watching the videos to get a taste for what this little beastie can do Ã¢â‚¬â€ I’m sure it’s just the tip of the iceberg, too.
Artists currently using the Tenori-On include Jim O’Rourke, Atom Heart, and Robert Lippok.
Unsurprisingly, stock has run out at present. If anyone at Yamaha fancies sending me a piece of kit to try out and review, I’d be more than happy to oblige. It’s not shipping outside the UK at present, either. It’s expected to retail at around US$1,200.
Yes, I WANT ONE.