Tenori-on

Info

tenori on_front

 

NAME: Yamaha Tenori-on

TYPE: Sequencer

MANUFACTURER: Yamaha

YEAR: 2007

DAY RATE: 65

WEEKLY RATE: 225

 

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tenori on_back

 

NAME: Yamaha Tenori-on

TYPE: Sequencer

MANUFACTURER: Yamaha

YEAR: 2007

DAY RATE: 65

WEEKLY RATE: 225

 

Story


Designed by Japanese media artist Toshio Iwai, the Tenori-On is conceived as a new musical instrument for the digital age. Continuing from where his Electroplankton software (for the Nintendo DS) left off and adding a generous dollop of step-sequencer immediacy, Iwai marries visual appeal with an integral synthesizer — and alarm clock!

Resembling an object from the Starship Enterprise crèche, this is a quite unprecedented hi-tech cyber-toy. Yes, there are parallels with existing devices such as the Monome or even the Genoqs Octopus, but unlike the former, the Tenori-On requires no computer to perform its tricks, while comparisons with the latter are primarily due to its LED grid method of note entry.

The Tenori-On is small, approximately eight inches square, and constructed of rounded, polished magnesium. It rattles slightly when handled, courtesy of the myriad white buttons forming the user interface and animated display. There are 256 of these buttons, with an equal number on the rear, although those on the rear are display-only. From the outset, it’s clear that the Tenori-On is as much about visuals as it is about sound; its graphical shenanigans are presented to both performer and audience, assuming it is held vertically (which isn’t actually the most comfortable playing angle) rather than flat on your lap.

Power is supplied by an external adaptor or by six AA batteries. Battery power offers the tempting prospect of performance in any environment, and its tiny 1W stereo speakers proved adequate for close-in listening at least. For more intimate music-making, a mini stereo headphone socket is provided; this serves as a line out should you wish to plumb into a more substantial sound system. The remaining port to the outside world is a Mini DIN socket, providing MIDI In and Out via a breakout cable, so you can synchronise playback with other Tenori-Ons or talk to external MIDI gear.

By far the most eye-catching aspect of the Tenori-On is its 16×16 matrix of opaque plastic buttons. Serving as both note and data entry points, they are backlit in three discrete intensities, resulting in a striking animated display. It’s worth checking out some of the on-line video demos to appreciate the impact of this, but even so, the reality is better. In addition, the user interface offers five buttons to be operated with the left hand (L1 to L5) and five more for the right (R1 to R5). Add a small backlit display, a jog wheel and two buttons marked OK and Cancel and that’s almost it. There’s one small button you might miss, right at the top: Clear. This is your means of instantly wiping notes you have entered on the panel.

The Tenori-On generates notes using six different methods, known as Modes, distributed unequally across 16 Layers. Some of the modes offer unique ways to create patterns of notes, suffice it to say that the first seven layers generate notes using Score Mode whilst layers 8 to 11 make use of Random Mode. Layers 12 and 13 are assigned to Draw Mode. Layers 14 and 15 are Bounce and Push Modes respectively. This leaves the final layer assigned to Solo Mode. The mode-to-layer assignments are fixed, and initially there’s a lot to take in — but you can explore the capabilities of each in turn, and after a short time, I guarantee you will be leaping from layer to layer without even thinking.

Each layer is assigned to play any of the 256 onboard patches. Thus layer 1 might play strings, layer 2 could be bass, layer 3 drums and so on. As well as patch selection, each layer has its own level and panning, along with speed, transposition and note length.

 

Specifications

Gate Time – 10–9990ms
Octaves – -5/+5
Tempo (BPM) – 40-240
Scales – 9 types
Transpose – -7/+8
6x Performance Modes – Score, Random, Draw, Bounce, Push, Solo
Other Functions – Clock, Power-save, synchronized performance with 2 Tenori-ons, recording, Tenori-on playback
Maximum Active Notes – 64 points

Manual

Video


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