Olly Farshi from Defunktion.net writes to share their interview with Toshio Iwai and a performance via podcast. I’m not sure that I agree with Olly that the TENORI-ON has generated a “hurricane of hype” (maybe more like a rain shower of enthusiasm), but they’ve got a terrific interview. Mr. Iwai talks about how the relationship with Yamaha developed, his thoughts on the response from YouTube and the blogosphere, and most importantly, his vision for the device and music making:

The reality right now is that many people, including professional musicians and kids and simply passive listeners, have the chance to create their own music. This isn’t a traditional musical instrument though, it’s got the perfect balance between being a musical instrument and a device for listening to ready-made pieces.

For all the recent comparisons to the Monome (hey, they do both have grids of light-up buttons in a square), among other alternative musical interfaces, on this point there’s a truly fundamental departure philosophically. Most research and design on alternative interfaces has focused on either creating new instruments for musicians or making the experience of the listener more active/interactive. In the case of the Tenori-On, the device is really both simultaneously, covering the range from being an interactive, sound art take on the iPod to being an expressive performance instrument for musicians (as Mr. Iwai himself uses it). The fact that Gary Kibler, as a professional composer, here on CDM found that the device was so immediately accessible is promising — it suggests the user can have that range of experience individually. (Gary wrote that “the Tenori-On has probably the best elapse “zero-to-flow” time I’ve ever experienced as a musician.)

Now that the launch is done and TENORI-ONs are getting out into the hands of the public, we’ll see if this translates to a broad audience and real longevity.

Interview & Podcast: Toshio Iwai – Tenori-On Special [Defunktion]