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.

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