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In-depth Feature:  Tenori-On
Exclusive! Tenori-On A New Musical Instrument
It's not everyday a totally new instrument concept is released
Nick B writes: .


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No flash plug


   QuickTime (MP4)  | iOS MP4    Windows Media 
14:5 mins
Sound in Your Palm
When we were offered the Tenori-On to review , even though we could only hang on to it for a brief period, we jumped at the chance. After all, it's not everyday a totally new instrument concept is released, and certainly not by one of the largest corporate manufacturers. And the Tenori-On is something that has been eagerly anticipated by many.

Lets get a few things out of the way first though:
Tenori-On is currently only available in a few select record stores in the UK. This is basically the initial roll-out - the rest of the world will have to wait their turn.

Tenori-On is not a low-cost item and that has been one of the biggest conversation points since the price has been announced (£599 UK - $1200 ish).

Tenori-On will not replace your favourite workstation - it's more of a musical toy - and I say that with respect, as it is one that encourages you to actually make music.

CORRECTION
The unit is actually made from magnesium polished by robot, not metalicized plastic as I originally thought.


The Tenori Story right now... (as of 10th Sept 07)
Now for additional details on the Tenori-On, please refer to our two-part session with Tenori-On developer Yu Nishibori, you can view the videos here.

So, how was it?
Watch the video and see......

Pricing
UK only £599
Currently, it's sold out but there are more coming according to the website.

More Resources              Articles - full listing
  • Yamaha Tenori HQ (UK)
  • Global Tenori-On pages
  • Yu Nishibori Video PT1
  • Yu Nishibori Video PT2
  • Create Digital Music - Impressions from a composer

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       30 Comments...  
    Peter Peck    Said...

    Hi Sonicstate and thanks for your great coverage of our UK Tenori-on activities. We especially liked the "Sonic State" written in the Tenori-on LED's!

    As Tenori-on is such a new and exciting product concept I think its only right just to put up some responses to the comments in the review....

    Tenori-on is like nothing else seen before. It can't really be viewed with the same parameters as other instruments as its for a new way of performance and creation. We could not agree more with your comment about it not replacing your favourite workstation. You are absolutely right. If you are looking at Tenori-on to replace a new synth, tone module, DAW or even a laptop then its really not the answer. Tenori-on is very different. The world is already full of traditional hardware and Tenori-on brings us all a fresh new way of thinking. Yes, this new way is not going to be for everyone, but, from the reaction we are getting from around the world, its certainly generating unprecidented excitement from people that already have everything they need for music and are looking for a new and inspirational way forward.

    A few points that may need clarification.. Construction and feel. In our opinion its not metalicised plastic. Tenori-on is made of Magnesium. A careful search around on flickr will reveal some inside factory shots showing the energy and systems used to create the special product chassis. The product is polished by robot for a painfully long time, then hand finished. The end result is a really robust metal frame designed to be truely unique.

    Tenori-on is a handheld product Tenori-on means 'sound on your palm' in Japanese. When used on stage its held out vertically infront of the performer and so its logical that the cables come from the base. It was also important to keep the rear side clear of cables so that the audience can appreciate the performance too through the rear panel LEDs. In the designers opinion, cables from the top of the product would upset the visual appeal and the product balance.

    Tenori-on is not a synthesizer. The world already has billions of sound generating sources. We all have incredible plugins and other synthesizer hardware for that task. The factory sounds therefore in Tenori-on are made to be different - to stand out from the crowd. Tenori-on has an interface that is extremely easy and inspirational to use and opening up more synth editing parameters would have compromised this critical and advantageous feature. Tenori-on is not a sampler. As you showed so clearly, the ability to load your own sounds via SD card does bring a new and exciting dimension to the product and we expect people to be extremely creative with this feature. (Maybe you could upload your 808 library Nick?!) Over the years we have all become used to full envelope editing on samplers etc but this is the job of the computer nowadays. Because everyone uses a computer to load their samples into Tenori-on its easy to control the individual sample volumes and timbres within your favourite audio editing application before creating a Tenori-on user voice bank. As with the point above, the priority is on ease of use and maintaining the creative flow so sample editing is deliberately not included.

    The issue about moving between blocks is interesting though. The advantage of the system currently used is that its possible to instantaneously move between blocks - ie no delay, no quantize just the performer is in total control. There, I used an important word - 'performer'. This is where Tenori-on really moves things forward - as a performance instrument the visual impact on stage is simply stunning and this is an area not really covered in the review.

    Its an extremely exciting time for this new instrument. How many people can say that they have become 'addicted' to a musical product before. Your comments about a time 'black hole' are completely right - its simply creatively addictive. I hope this helps clarify the concept and some of the thinking behind this new instrument. We are delighted that the world is as excited about it as we are and thanks, Sonicstate, for your comprehensive review.

    All the best,

    Peter Peck Marketing Manager Music Production Yamaha UK

    11-Sep-07 03:23 AM


    Iain Farrell    Said...

    I picked up my Tenori-On yesterday and lost most of my evening to its lights and sounds. I share Nick's disappointment about the bass sounds but as a relative newcomer to music making who falls into the category of more money than sense I found it to be inspiring. Any musical instrument has its limitations and I'm inclined to think of this more in terms of a traditional instrument like a piano or guitar. The physical form of these devices has natural limitations and I don't see why a new instrument shouldn't be confident in not doing all things for all people. What you leave out is surely as important as what you leave in.

    For what it's worth this device so far feels playful and progressive. I'm excited to use it and haven't been this excited about picking up an instrument and learning to use it since I learned to play the guitar when I was at school.

    I'm just trying not to think about how much I spent on it ;) It's an investment ... honest! :)

    19-Sep-07 07:55 AM


    ulf    Said...

    WHAT? NEW? this is a direct bite of the Monome! www.monome.org and see it for yourselves.

    23-Sep-07 04:34 PM


    ulf    Said...

    WHAT? NEW? this is a direct bite of the Monome! www.monome.org and see it for yourselves.

    23-Sep-07 04:34 PM


    uLFO    Said...

    WHAT? NEW? this is a direct bite of the Monome! www.monome.org and see it for yourselves.

    23-Sep-07 04:36 PM


    ulf    Said...

    sorry for tripleposting. my webbrowser f'ed up.

    23-Sep-07 04:36 PM


    Andy    Said...

    Yes Ulf, very similar. Er… apart from the monome needing a computer. And apart from Tenori being in development well before the Monome. And apart from the monome being more a controller than instrument. Other than that, yes, they do have flashing lights!

    27-Sep-07 08:56 AM


    ECHOLAB    Said...

    hi. on the viddy you show it transmitting midi to a DAW (logic?) - and that it only transmitted note data. is it possible to control 16 VST or AU instruments and record the data into Logic?

    thanks in advance

    gavin little echolab dublin, ireland

    07-Nov-07 08:07 AM


    Nick    Said...

    Echolab, if your DAW can deal with a multi-channel input and you can route to multiple instruments in real-time, then yes it _should_ be possible.

    Otherwise you could record them one at a time and do it that way. If I'm understanding you right..

    10-Nov-07 03:38 PM


    ECHOLAB    Said...

    thanks nick for the reply. ordered one thursday - due 4 delivery on monday! always interested in new ways to approach composition. will be trying it out controlling multiple AU instruments in Logic and will post my results.

    gavin little echolab dublin, ireland

    http://www.echo-lab.com/ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1962022/

    10-Nov-07 07:32 PM


    ECHOLAB    Said...

    hello again. got it working with logic - playing multiple virtual instruments (AUs) - gets interesting when you start using the random mode with stuff like Absynth (-: will post a video at some stage and a link to an environment file for Locig if anybody wants it.

    gavin little, echolab, dublin

    14-Nov-07 03:09 PM


    Patric    Said...

    Well, as an experimental artists, w/22 years playing guitar(5 devoted to bass as my primary inst.), keys.&drums. And forsaking rock for electronica/hip-hop/classic rock tube amp/highly mod'd analog pedals, & any # of fake digital analog synths and outboard processing,,I love a useful, preferably hardware device I can implement. For $1200 I would buy, instead, 8 of the new Khaotic boxes. That is, because it would make more sense than pissing away good $ on the least creative stimulating gadget I've ever seen.

    After more hype and waiting than we saw for Def Leppard's,'Hysteria,' album,,this thing better have a hidden trick they haven't unlocked.

    "Rubbish,"-declared the filthy American.

    05-Dec-07 11:30 AM


    Ulf    Said...

    the monome can do anything the tenori-on can do and so much more...

    18-Apr-08 08:19 PM


    Kial    Said...

    yes the Monome could possibly do almost anything sonically / visually...as long as you can interpret the data in a computer. with a bit of Max/MSP or PD program you can do a lot with either; although I believe Toshio Iwai and Yamaha were going for an "instrument" that laymen or beginner musicians could play without much theory or programing knowledge.

    02-May-08 12:51 AM


    selercs    Said...

    you mean monome is a direct bite of the tenori-on? stop spamming us...spamming us in this manner only loses your credibility to sell the monome. tenori on is not just a lights flashing interface, its a midi sequencer, et al.

    11-Jun-08 11:50 PM


    "Sort of"    Said...

    "Sort of" "Sort of" "Sort of" "Sort of" "Sort of" "Sort of"

    Has anybody counted how many times this guy said "Sort of" ?

    100, 200?

    18-Jun-08 10:52 PM


    Nick B    Said...

    No actually I havent counted - could be an interesting project for the weekend if you have the time. :-]

    10-Jul-08 10:59 AM


    Benedict Johnson http://www.myspace.com/weaponEXmusic    Said...

    It would be useful to introduce children to the concept of electronic music sequencing in a way that a computer screen filled with confusing graphical displays might not be. Apart from that, I see no obvious advantage to using this over a cheap laptop and a copy of Ableton lite. Does that sound ruthless? Think what £600 could buy you..

    24-Jul-08 03:13 PM


    xpat    Said...

    i'm both excited and disappointed. the reason to get it for someone like me is control of other gear. better MIDI would have been nice, though i guess it could get upgraded. as for the monome, good luck getting one. they're down to silent auctions on individual units. large runs are maybe 40 at a time a few times a year. a 256 costs more than tenori-on. and as for who got there first, we're really expanding the control of X0X boxes, which are decades old. and the schaltwerk has been out for close to a decade. i love the monome concept, but at least i might have a chance to get a tenori-on, even though they don't seem to be quite mass-market yet.

    07-Oct-08 11:43 AM


    ashtar brian    Said...

    i would LOVE it if you could post a logic environment for the tenori, i have had some problems setting up one myself....

    23-Nov-08 12:33 AM


    ashtar brian    Said...

    i would LOVE it if you could post a logic environment for the tenori, i have had some problems setting up one myself....

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