—Original Tenori-on Acquired by Prestigious New York City Museum; New Versions More Widely Available Through Musical Instrument Retailers—
BUENA PARK, Calif.—The thoroughly unique and addictive Tenori-on lets anyone make interesting music instantly. Not only is it easy to use, it’s also mesmerizing to look at. And it recently earned a remarkable distinction: it is now one of just five musical instruments inducted into the Museum of Modern Art’s 4,000-item Architecture and Design Collection.
Now, Yamaha introduces a lower-priced version called Tenori-on O (MSRP $999; estimated street price $699.99), along with an OS update for the original, the Tenori-on W (MSRP $1,499; estimated street price $999.99). Both versions will now be available through musical instrument retail channels after initial test marketing in 2009 via e-commerce channels. Functionally, the new O model is exactly the same as the original W model, except it cannot be operated with batteries, its 256 orange LEDs are only visible on one side of the unit and it is encased in sturdy plastic.
While the Tenori-on W was designed with an emphasis on live performance, since its LED display is visible on two sides so the audience could see the unique them and the battery operation facilitated moving around on stage, the lower cost Tenori-on O will expand the market to producers, music production home studios and anyone who wants to start instantly making music visually.
“We’ve gotten a great response to the Tenori-on when we introduced it in 2007,” said Athan Billias, director of marketing, Pro Audio & Combo Division. “It is truly an innovative instrument for the 21st Century because it combines a MIDI controller, tone generator, sampler and stunning visual user interface. Most importantly it’s a unique new way for anyone to approach playing and composing music. Music instantly becomes a wall of light graffiti as you paint the sounds across its 256 LED buttons.”
Design-wise, Tenori-on is the product of collaboration between Toshio Iwai, a leading media artist who provided the idea and design, and Yamaha, which provided its electronic musical instrument technology. Physically, Tenori-on takes the shape of a square board, approximately 8 X 8 inches, with a matrix of 16 vertical and 16 horizontal rows of LED buttons, or switches, (for a total of 256 in all), which, when blinking on and off, provide a visual image of the structure of the music. When these buttons are touched directly, it is possible to create intuitive compositions, even without specialized knowledge of music, and enjoy playing with sounds. It is also possible to perform compositions in real time as the player is composing them.
Tenori-on is therefore a completely new electronic “visible music” interface between the player and the world of music. The buttons and the size of the unit have been designed precisely to allow the player to touch all of the buttons with either the right or left thumb.
In addition to being added to the Museums of Modern Art in New York City, at the 12th Japan Media Arts Festival, held in February 2009 and sponsored by Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs, the Tenori-on and Toshio Iwai won the Grand Prize in the Entertainment Division.