Toshio Iwai, creator of Electroplankton, is working on a new digital musical instrument with Yamaha. It’s called the Tenori-On and, at least from an industrial design point of view, it looks beautiful. And if you’re in Spain, you can check it out live in action.

Retrospectively, it seems to be the spiritual cousin to the monome, except of course the monome is purely a control device, whereas the Tenori-On is staking out its territory as a full-fledged instrument in its own right. Of course, there will be a price premium to pay should this device reach market. I’ve been waiting for more news on this device, and I’d been wondering how or if it was progressing at all over the last couple of months.

An opportunity to see this thing in action is happening shortly though: Toshio Iwai will be performing live with it at Sonar 2006 in Barcelona Spain. (Is it just me, or is Barcelona the most amazing sounding place? They have an amazing art/music/design scene there.) It’s at the Centre d’Art Santa Monica on 16th June at 9:15 pm. Somebody go along and video this so we can see it in action! [Ed: Anyone who can get good video of this, I’ll reward you with . . . well, something! -PK]

A lot of the frustration I’ve expressed (or at least sad doe eyes that I was making in Nintendo’s general direction) regarding Electroplankton really revolves around my wish for more interesting collaborative opportunities. The Tenori-On is designed to be just such a device; the result are fascinating, particularly the visual composition aspect of the unit. I would hope that the LED status for the grid could also be transmitted to VJ hardware for visual experimentation too. [Ed: Should be technically possible. Let’s hope I/O from the device is fairly open. -PK]

It certainly crosses into the borders of “music as art”, but it does look like absolutely terrific fun. I’m dying to know when Behringer will be releasing the T-O-UB for $99. *hides from lawyers*
Tenori-On Yamaha Global Page
Previously on CDM: Tenori-On
How to make Electroplankton Rock (a wishlist)

Ed: For more of Nat’s thoughts and brilliant design sense, check out his blog

[UPDATED:] More links in comments, plus a post from Pixelsumo with some more detailed specs. The whole thing runs on MIDI — how about that?