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
Last night I went to the infamous and quite beautiful nightclub Berghain in Berlin to see the Tenori-on launch event. I’ve been highly interested in the Tenori-on since I first read about it almost a year ago. The device is right up my alley: a sequencer, white leds, and it’s made for live performance. So what did I think when I finally got to see it in person?
When I walked into Berghain they had kiosks hooked up with several Tenori-on available to use. Right away I was shocked at how bright the white leds bling out at you. You instantly get that “wow this is futuristic” feeling.
Upstairs in the main room it was crowded as I suspected it would be. I mean come on this is Berlin where even the women are sequencer freaks! Lots of people wearing Ableton shirts and the stage had four Macbooks ready to accompany the Tenoris. This was my kind of geekfest!
We heard three live acts before the inventor of the Tenori, Toshio Iwai would talk. The first two acts were ho hum. I was mesmerized by the Tenori but the music and technique of the first performers was not interesting. The third act Sutekh from San Fransisco blew me away! I never really heard of this guy before but most of my friends did. He played all noise and he had the Tenoris led display going crazy. It was quite evil and machine like. I cant explain what he was doing but the Tenori-on’s display reminded me of the scene in 2001 A Space Odyssey when they travel through the worm hole. Inside the visuals he was doing two things at once and they seemed to be going at different speeds. I even think he played a game of pong! Without the visual aspect would I have like the music so much?
Finally it was time for Tenori Toshio to speak. He gave a really incredible powerpoint style talk. He detailed how he got the idea to create the Tenori-on. He showed the early software he programmed, including a game that was never released for the Super Nintendo system. He showed his art installations all which had elements of the Tenori-on. Finally he took us by video to Yamaha and the factory where the Tenori-on is created. He ended with a video of a robot who polishes the metal on the Tenori. I was laughing pretty hard when I realized the robot was talking to itself as it finished tasks.
There was a full night of performances after Toshio Iwai spoke. I will have some interviews from some of those artists on Wire to the Ear soon. You will find it pretty interesting how they were invited to perform for this tour and what they received as payment!
To see the full set of photos from this event: click here
I was walking down SchÃ¶nhauser Allee last week and saw the posters you see above. Tomorrow night I will get to see and hopefully touch Toshio Iwai’s wicked music toy the Tenori-on. Bergain which is probably Berlin’s most notorious after hours, drug, gay pick up club is playing host to the event. The festivities start at 8PM. Who will be performing you ask? Toshio Iwai, To Rococo Rot, Pole, Sutekh, I am Robot and Proud and Nathan Michel.
If you don’t know what a Tenori-On is watch this video:
I will be there and if you see me and feel like saying hello by all means please do so!