Tenori-On music controller

In Toshio Iwai’s world, THX 1138 is way, way cooler.

Fans of radical exploration in instrument design have watched the Tenori-On since 2001. The instrument, designed by composer / sound artist / visualist / interactive designer Toshio Iwai, is part sequencer, part sampler, but with a novel, integrated interface using a grid of buttons. And now it has a launch date from its manufacturer, instrument giant Yamaha: September 4 is the date the Tenori-On steps from design concept to commercial product.

Yamaha decided to launch first in just one country, presumably chosen for its hipness, love of design, and adventurous embrace of nontraditional instruments. And they came up with the UK. (What, not Australia, known for its unusual concentration of createdigitalmusic.com co-creators and readers? Norway, which we just generally think is awesome? Thailand, which has a brilliant music tech blog? Oh, well. Too bad they’re all logical and not compulsively impulsive like me.)

Long story short: you’ll have to be in London to see this 9/4 — erm, make that 4/9. Then, you can follow it around England as the product tours. We do expect the tool to follow with other parts of the world after that; I’ll make sure Yamaha keeps us in the loop.

Full details on the launch, UK tour, and lots of great Tenori-On coverage, at Pixelsumo:
Tenori-On is finally here

Yamaha to Ship Toshio Iwai’s Tenori-On, But Will Open Hardware Win? — I should really qualify this one. My point was not that Tenori-On and the open-source Monome hardware were equivalent, nor that open hardware was preferable to, say, Yamaha supporting new design. What I found interesting was that, for their personal use, musicians I knew were showing greater interest in Monome than Tenori-On, and that an upstart, open project with no funding was able to similarly experiment with ideas about what instruments should be. For a long time, hardware experimentation was often limited to one-off, academic research projects. There seems to be a new resurgence in design that actually brings ideas to market, even if in limited runs, and now increasingly opens up that research to the user. The fact that the Monome and Tenori-On take very different paths to both development and resulting design in almost every way, yet share a certain design sensibility and experimental spirit, to me further validates both projects.

New Videos, Blog for Toshio Iwai’s Imaginative Musical Creations

  • So whats the shipping price?

  • When last we heard, GBP500 … very reasonable, I think, for all it does. The only downer appears to be that only traditional MIDI is onboard, no networking, though I won't be sure of those details until we get shipping info. Anyone from Yamaha of UK, feel free to pipe up; I only know the US folks!

  • I've asked them, they expect to announce price on the 4th. I am going to the press event so will get the full final specs.

    Its changed a lot since the prototype hasnt it πŸ™‚


  • dead_red_eyes

    Damn. Does anyone know when the US release will be? I'm so freaking excited!

    I don't mind the MIDI thing, I still onwder how they're going to hook up to each other. I remember reading in a couple of articles about the synching possibilities.

    To me, the Monome is cool and yes the open source thing kicks ass … but you can't draw as easily on a Monome as you can on the Tenori-On. That's the biggest appeal to me really. I cannot wait to get one, but I hope that it's not going to take forever and a damn day to come over here to the US. Lucky UK!!!!

  • dead_red_eyes

    Wow Chris, I never saw the prototype! It definitely has changed a lot.

  • Adrian Anders

    God it makes me want to fly to the UK just to steal one from one of the record store displays πŸ˜‰

  • dead_red_eyes

    Haha, I hear that!

  • Man, I just saw Daedalus perform with the monome at the Higgins art gallery. HIs monome wasn't nearly as portable (though, amazing, dont get me wrong) as the Tenori-on. The possibilities are off the head mang!!!!!!!!!!!

  • I'm waiting for the first person who gets a Monome AND a Tenori-On. πŸ™‚

  • Mike

    I'm glad the UK for once gets the up on you US upstarts. Now where's my iPhone . . .

  • jonathan

    I think this is like watching someone play a videogame. You know Yamaha distributed Arturia for like a year…if this doesn't sell like a DX7 the same thing will happen because Yamaha are scavengers. I saw someone driving a porche yesterday and it didn't change how I might make music or plans. Neither has the Monome…to each his own!

  • ryan

    I just want one of the new Monomes. πŸ™

    Supposed to come out this month.

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  • Peter, I hope you dont mind me posting this link here…

    We have a video shot at the Sounds Expo in London with Yamaha UK Here

    We also have exclusive footage in the can from an interview we shot with the technical genius behind it – we cant post until launch date….

  • dead_red_eyes

    Wow, can't wait to see that footage Nick.

  • bliss

    Me too, Nick! Can't wait.

    By the way, jonathan, every time I see a Porsche I do take a moment to think about what I am doing. But that's just me! πŸ˜‰

  • Excellent … just so happens I'll be in London on Sept 4th so I'm going to try and check it out at Phonica Records.

  • Hey Nick — no problem, thanks for sharing! Looking forward to the video! And we're all very jealous here in the States. πŸ˜‰

    @jonathan: I don't think Yamaha is doing this for a big sales push. On the contrary, I think it's refreshing to see a big company doing something splashy and different, and I think they deserve the resulting coverage they're likely to get.

    Watching the objects that makes music doesn't have to take away from the music itself. I think we care about the objects because we care about music, and the two are connected.

  • subbasshead

    So is it 'shipping' on Sept 4 as your title says

    or are they just promoting it from Sept 4?

    ie when does it actually go on sale?

  • subbasshead — we don't actually know that question. It appears to be on sale 9/4, though. I expect we'll have detailed info on that date.

  • Oetzi

    I'm so glad that they're doing a nationwide launch as well. Stocked that I'm gonna be able to get the train into Glasgow and see one and also possibly pick one up πŸ™‚

  • ouch did they say 500quid in that sonicstate video?

    That's $800-1000 US folks if you take into account VAT, exchange rate and what not.

  • This has totally changed the way people in architecturally interesting buildings who sit on fashionable red chairs will make music for the next two years and three months!!!

    "My grandson has that new Battleship game as well. Now where is that shitty techno coming from?"

    Why are they both sitting cross-legged? They both need a giant dedicated reinforced steel stands for their udon tenori sashimis. What no knobs or sliders? Weeeeeaaaaak.

    Whenever I see someone driving a Porsche I think, there's someone driving a Porsche. Whenevr I see someone using a trendy controller I think, there's someone I'd like to run over with a Porsche.

    Just kidding, looks really fun and I'm really looking forward to seeing some of the usual suspects getting their hands on these and starting to tinker about. No more press photos. Well see it walwarts and all.

    MPD24 is better.

  • It runs on batteries too btw πŸ˜‰

  • Real musicians don't use batteries. Especially not the new rechargeable batteries. I prefer the audio fidelity you get from genuine analog electricity. You get a better representation of the full spectrum of the power field.

    Nice that Yamaha is involved. I'd love to see a cheaper version banged out and marketed to hip hop producers. Can't wait to see the advertising.

  • Oh, I was just joking about the battery thing.

    When Akai makes one it will rule.

  • It is priced at £599 inc delivery. Behind the scenes photos here

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