To celebrate Yuri’s Night, CDM is organizing a big design challenge. Bring your craziest, most futuristic musical interfaces / hardware projects / custom synths and controllers, and face off with other designers to win a Yamaha Tenori-On and other prizes.

Musical expression and space, after all, go together. The record above carried a special mix of great music made by humans around the world into space, via the Voyager spacecraft. Good thing it launched when it did: I imagine alien life would have been shocked if we sent a CD or cassette or 8-track or SDflash memory card, but LPs are cool again in other parts of the galaxy, too.

If you have any means of getting to the Bay Area on April 12 and you have something cool, we’ll want to see it. (Naturally, I’ll be one of the judges … but we should have some other judges to announce soon.) Even if you don’t win, I’ll be covering the projects on

Enter the Futuristic Music Design Challenge

Got any questions? Drop me a line.

Planet-wide futuristic design projects, too: While we won’t be able to judge them for the prize, if you have any futuristic design projects and can’t get to California — particularly if they’re inspired by space, exploration, or Earth and ecology — contact me and we’ll cover them on the website and CDM as part of the global Yuri’s Night celebration.

Deadline: 11:59pm Eastern Monday, April 7

Performance/Competition: Saturday, April 12; Time TBA @ Yuri’s Night Bay Area

Official Site:

  • A tenori prize, eh?

    OK, what should I copy and give less visionary features to?

    (sorry, I had to)

  • What, you mean the Tenori-On versus the Monome? The Tenori-On came first, and the two operate in very different ways anyway (ie, once you've got buttons and lights, there are quite a number of things you can do with them … and Monome is really a controller first, and Tenori-On is really an instrument/sampler first).

    Toshio Iwai, the Tenori-On's designer, has been doing sound art / interactive visuals since the early 90s, and I think has done quite a lot of innovative things. The fact that he got Yamaha to productize it is a big achievement, which is why I think it's appropriate here — it's proof that musical instruments can take any form or function, not just those that you've seen in the past.

  • johnson
  • @johnson — wow, excellent!

  • Is it just me, or does that image look eerily like the death star?

  • Don't get me wrong. I am completely fed up with the entire electronic musical instrument industry for lack of interesting new ideas.

    Or good ideas and poor implementation and quality (Alesis AirFx comes to mind, which I truly enjoyed 5 presets of [no tweaking possible] until it broke for no reason, as does their Photon X25, which also broke for no reason, while sitting around not being used).

    I think the divide between controller and instrument is an odd one to make. Every instrument has both features, it's just that recently we've been able to separate the two.

    Which would be really useful if there were actually an assortment of controller types but I can't afford $700 for a midi horn much to my chagrin. But a computer is, without the slightest bit of leeway for argument, incomparably supperior to a sampler not the least of which because a computer can contain many samplers which are not possible in hardware that'd be cheap enough to bother trying to sell at this time.

    I daresay that Mr. Iwai would feel much the same about many of our daily visionary music thoughts and I'd be the first to throw many projects and the concommitant cash his way to develop them.

    Then again, I thought the Kaoss Pad was an unbelievable quantum leap in hardware until I actually saw what it did. How can a company of that age and experience mess up something so simple as proper midi out implementation?!

    If I could afford I-CubeX's essentially modular hardware controller pieces I'd never even glance at something similarly prices from a hardware manufacturer.

    Maybe someone will figure out a way to make OSC plug-ins popular amongst 3rd party developers and somehow bring the price and speed of production of Continuums to the mortal realm? I'm not holding my breath.

    Then again, as much as I'm impressed with the monome, also, I'm rather glad that I found free software and a deal on a touchscreen for $186 which isn't a terribly far cry from similar performance features. Sadly, it broke for no reason and is awaiting a replacement.