Yamaha TNR-i

I’ve been a super fan of the Yamaha Tenori-On since I first laid my eyes on one. In fact, I went to its launch party in Berlin. You can see my photos from that event: here. When the iPad came out I new there would be Tenori like apps. What most people don’t realize is how deep the Tenori software is and so most of the clones were fun but didn’t take you as far as the original. Peter over at CDM has a post today about the Yamaha TNR-i and yes it’s the official Tenori app for the iPad! Honestly a huge part of the Tenori-On’s appeal is the hardware. Those white touchable LEDs are so quite futuristic fantastic. I’m sure I will enjoy the iPad app but I still want the original.

“On the road from futuristic instrumental concept to real-world product, the Yamaha Tenori-On as shipped lacked some of the functionality its creator, gifted media artist Toshio Iwai, originally imagined. Notably, wireless networking, which promised social music-making with other devices, was gone, replaced with a more-limited MIDI connector. Now, in a surprisingly literal translation from the hardware to iPad, it appears the Tenori-On has added that feature – but lost some of its charm.” – Peter Kirn

For more info: createdigitalmusic.com/lost-in-translation…

Tenori-on with Analog Gear


Novamusik hooks some Tenori’s up to a Vermona DRM-MKIII and a Doepfer A100 Mini System. I don’t love the song they create but this is the way to use Tenori-On’s! Click to 1:06 in the video to see the great action. Thanks Chuck!

“The guys of Nova Musik playing with some new toys that just came in… First thing we thought of? Can we hook these things up to the modular? The answer is yes, and much much more.” – novamusik.com

Do you want a set up like this too?

Bliptronic 5000 LED Synthesizer


Looking for a $50 Tenori-on? The Bliptronic 5000 LED Synthesizer doesn’t have the amazing sequencer functions of the Yamaha but it’s quite a bit less expensive.

“If HAL 9000 mated with R2-D2 and their electronic offspring was tutored by Kraftwerk it would probably end up something like the Bliptronic 5000 LED Synthesizer. You’ll notice sound similar to a retro Casiotone with an interface not unlike a simplified Yamaha TENORI-ON… if that makes any sense. Either way, once you start touching the keys of the Bliptronic you’ll be hooked by it’s simple pattern-based approach to music. One Bliptronic is grand, but more Bliptronics are even grander. An infinite number of Bliptronics can be attached together using the link ports and included cables.” – thinkgeek.com


Grab one now at: thinkgeek.com

Tenori TRN-O


I really wanted a Tenori-on when they came out. I went to the launch party in Berlin (see post: here). I do feel the price is justified however it still keeps the Japanese music box out of most peoples hands. Yamaha seems to understand that and is releasing a new more affordable Tenori called the Tenori-O. It’s white plastic (instead of the original’s magnesium casing), has Orange LEDs instead of white and those LED’s are only single sided. Lastly, there is no battery option on the “O”. Music programmability and features do remain the same for the “O” when compared to it’s older brother. The real question will be how low can get they get the price. If anyone knows what the retail will be let me know.


“Since 2007 Tenori-On has also picked up numerous prestigious design awards thanks to it’s addictive and brilliant interface and striking design. Recently it won a coveted place in New York’s Museum of Modern Art… Yamaha’s Peter Peck explains the thinking “We know everyone loves the concept and fresh approach of Tenori-On, however, as you’d expect we have received thousands of requests for a more affordable version. We therefore looked at many ways of reducing the price without compromising the all-important product concept or creative operating system. To coincide with the unveiling of the new model Yamaha have also confirmed a free forthcoming firmware update for current Tenori-On customers.” – Yamaha

For more info: www.global.yamaha.com/tenori-on/

via Sonic State

inudge from Hobnox


Here’s a new online Matrix Sequencer from Hobnox called inudge. You can play 7 sounds simultaneously plus a drum grid. So if you are bored at work and you left your Tenori-on or iPhone (with Melodica on it) then open Firefox and start playing: www.inudge.net/index.en.html

“Nudge is a virtual-instrument widget designed for self-expressive online music making & sharing. It’s fun and simple to use and you don’t need to know a single thing about producing music to make your own individual songs in minutes!” – inudge.net

You can also embed inudge on your own website. A great place for an inudge widget would be a 404 “page not found” landing url. You can also share links to your creating. Feel free to leave some in the comments!

Here’s a quick loop I created: http://inudge.net/inudge/#/zw

Flame Six in a Row MIDI Phrase Sequencer


Flame is a Berlin based company who manufacture’s interesting audio manipulation hardware. They are on Schönhauser Allee (my old Strasse) right near Ableton’s headquarters. I had a chance to play with their Flame Talking Synth and that piece is real joy. Basically it’s a speech synthesizer connected to a joystick and switches. Their new box has some seriously pretty yellow, green and red led glass like buttons and it fits in the Monome/Tenori-on zone. Paired with a Waldorf Blofeld above you can see how this thing can bring you into Deutsch-Amerikanische Freundschaft territory with just a few button pushes.

For more info and videos: http://www.shelaq.de/flame/start.htm

via Matrixsynth

Old and new sound generators in the rain.

yr3wk48 moog & tonematrix
from longcat on Vimeo.

A few posts back I compared Retro vs Future audio producing technique videos. Today’s video shows old and new working together. The Moog Opus 3 was released in 1980. Vintage Synth Explorer has the Opus Manual available for download: click here ToneMatrix, Andre Michelle’s Tenori-on software clone is pure 2009: http://lab.andre-michelle.com/tonematrix

“With the ever wonderful moog opus 3, and the insanely addictive tone matrix from andre michelle… it’s freely usable so long as you have the most recent flash update, it reminds me of early software drum machines like hammerhead… it seems he is creating a whole reason-ish music creation world online all run with flash, it’s quite heavy on the CPU but very interesting x lab.andre-michelle.com/tonematrix the moog is still missing it’s string sound, but one of it’s faults allows me to just have the filter with no sound underneath which you hear at the beginning… i love this synth x” – longcat

Thanks for Robbie Knight for this video. Isn’t time shifting on a rainy (in NYC at least) Friday nice?

Related post: Thoughts and photos from the Tenori-on Berlin event.

ToneMatrix comes to the iPhone as SoundMatrix.


I love the Tenori-on. If it were a bit cheaper I would surely have bought one by now. I went to the official coming out party in Berlin and saw first hand how far creative artists can take the Lite-Bright impersonator. André Michelle is a wonderful software developer who has a website which is calls a Laboratory. On his page he has physics and music demos that run inside a browser. Some of his creations are impressive and touch on the future of software interfaces. One of his toys the ToneMatrix is a pseudo Tenori-on albeit a simple one. It doesn’t go deep as a real Tenori can but the basic grid pattern note fun part is there. You can find ToneMatrix on his Laboratory page and also as a tool inside HobNox’s awesome Audiotool website (browser based techno studio). Another place you can now find ToneMatrix is on an iPhone rebranded as SoundMatrix (iTunes link). It’s free so go make some zen bleeps.

Update: Twitter user @Candy Cane let me know there is another Tenori app for the iPhone called Melodica (iTunes link).

Related post: Thoughts and photos from the Tenori-on Berlin event.

Four synthesizer comics from Wire to the Ear.

Comicon was last week so I got inspired to make some strips for Wire to the Ear. I hope you find them somewhat entertaining. Feel free to share and repost them. I used the excellent Comic Life Magiq from Plasq. You can download the high resolution PDF of all four strips by: clicking here

Or view the next three after the jump…
Continue reading Four synthesizer comics from Wire to the Ear.