Yamaha’s Digital Musical Instrument

The digital musical instrument TENORI-ON was designed by Yamaha and media artist Toshio Iwai. This 16×16 matrix of LED switches offers a wide variety of performance capabilities. The device features six performance modes, and nine different scales. It has MIDI IN for a synchronized performance using two TENORI-ON instruments, 256 LED buttons, and a maximum Polyphony of 32 notes. Both a performance input controller and display unit, this device brings electronic music composition to the next level.

TENORI-ON weighs 650 grams (without batteries) and measures 205 x 205 x 32 mm. It is powered by 6 “AA” alkaline batteries or PA-3C, PA-130, or equivalent Yamaha AC adaptor. Its display is a monochrome 122 x 32 dot graphic LCD device. In addition, TENORI-ON is equipped with stereo speakers with a 1 watt output power.

This device offers six different performance modes that effect both lighting and sound. When in “score” mode, the device produces a certain type of loop, while “random” mode  creates a different kind of loop and enables the composer to spin loop-shapes after he or she creates them. “Draw” mode enables one to press individual LED buttons that are then played back. In “bounce” mode, the light drops from the button and then bounces back, and when in “push” mode, the sound of the pressed LED button changes gradually while the lights surrounding that button gradually grow brighter.  Finally, the device features the “solo” mode, where the note pressed is repeated until the button is released.

The user can choose to change voices, octaves, add sound effects, and create variations by holding down one of the ten function buttons located at the sides of the device and touching the LED buttons. Nine types of scales are available, as well as 253 voices. Designed to be an intuitive device, this musical instrument has a total of 16 audio layers that can be played together or separately, so that richer music can be composed. A block consists of 16 layers and can be edited, copied or changed at any stage of the process. Switching from block to block during performance is simple. An SD memory card enables one to load compositions into separate blocks, with enough storage space for a total of 16 programmed blocks (16-layer groups). Currently, TENORI-ON is being marketed exclusively within the UK for just under £600 )approximately $1,180).

TFOT recently covered a similar device developed by KORG, named the KAOSSILATOR Dynamic Phrase Synthesizer. Users can easily operate this extremely compact portable synthesizer by running their fingers over a touchpad. TFOT also reported on the bC16 miniature patch synthesizer, developed by the “Chimera Synthesis” Company. This small synthesizer is about the size of a small CD case.

More information on the TENORI-ON can be found here.