Engadget has coverage of Google’s I/O conference. Did you know that Google is showcasing a “Net-enabled social music device with a musical keyboard and a wide multi-touch display, and a variety of musical apps and cloud services.” called the Miselu Neiro? Retronyms, Korg and Yamaha are showing off software on the device. Check out the Polysix, a touch screen Theremin and more in the video above. It’s interesting but the iPad has such a huge lead in music apps this will have to be very inexpensive or get some exclusive content. I do like the idea!
“Yamaha is providing the upcoming “neiro” with the Yamaha AudioEngine (TM) Series Sound Chip NSX-1. This powerful synthesizer engine delivers a quality that almost matches the sound of real musical instruments. The DSP chip offers a larger variety of sound effects such as reverb, chorus and EQs that create a rich sound experience.” – miselu.com
Here’s some music I recorded for a German female producer. It’s in her court to add vocals for this and send it back to me. You’re hearing two slightly detuned Yamaha CS5 lines. Both are going through D16 Devator’s. You also hear white noise from the CS5 modulated through Ableton’s Auto-Pan. Assorted booms are my own recordings and swing is up.
Here’s some samples and photos from my latest eBay splurge. There’s something special about a vintage drum machine. I can’t place what it is but the sound and groove is just “it”. The recorded waveforms have more valleys and peaks than ITB synthesized drums. Panning seems wider. This Yamaha RX11 from the early 80s is really large, heavy and built like a tank. Pure joy for $50.
“The RX11 was one of Yamaha’s early drum machines (maybe even their first?) and as you can see from the panel cosmetics, it comes from the same era as their DX synths. At the time, it was a marvel – a (relatively) low-cost programmable drum machine with 29 ‘real’ drum samples and no less than 12 individual audio outputs.” – hollowsun.com/vintage/rx11/
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
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
I was talking via IM to “Raytrace” who’s name you see all over music tech social media sites. We were talking about checking our mixing in cars and he said that the Volkswagen Beetle is known to have the best shape for audio playback. I never heard that before but on the surface it makes sense. I guess if the circular interior walls are matched with a killer Blaupunkt system right?
Here’s my check the mix workflow:
Adam P11A (nice monitors)
Yamaha NS10M’s + Powerful Amp (harsh but acurite)
Sony MDR-7506 headphones (loud cans)
Apple iPod in-ear headphones
Subaru Impreza (Japanese car)
Remember to listen from other rooms from where the speakers are playing with the doors shut. The next door effect can point out too loud mix elements. Try mixing with a fan or noise in the room. Check mixes in loud cars (see above) and in parked cars. Remember to mix with fresh ears before any other music making.
Here’s two great circuit bending videos. Which one makes you happier? The first video is of a bent Yamaha QY10. It’s from stylinghead (Jesse) and this one can be your very own for $250. I really like the black panel with paint splatter on it. It’s like some sort of sound galaxy thing going on. This is one of the more noisy bends I’ve seen and I could see putting this on the table at some party around 6:00AM.
“This video shows some of the noisy things it can do. It also gets tight and ticky, warm and weird and everything in between.” – stylinghead
Next up we have a Talking Cash Register from Michael Una. This unit seems to be a nice fit if your making minimal or Kraftwerk (Amazon link) style material. I love a speech synthesizers and cash so I’m happy.
“A brief demo of the sonic capabilities of a circuit-bent Talking Cash Register. Looped 4x in Ableton Live, with Broken Drum Machine bangin’ away in the background.” – Michael Una
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!
The NAMM Show acronym stands for “National Association of Music Merchants”. The event takes place twice a year. There is a summer event in Austin, Texas but the bigger of the two happening this week in Anaheim, California. There are many websites covering NAMM down to the very last detail. I’d like to only list here what I personally think are the most interesting new products. So without further ado here is Wire to the Ear’s Winter NAMM hot picks:
Moog Voyager OS. Take a normal Moog Voyager and get rid of its Midi, presets, display and XY pad and you have the new “OS” which stands for Old School. I’m not sure I totally “get” this new synth. Unless the sound quality improves by removing those features what’s the point? Having midi, XY and patch memory has to be worth a few hundred bucks to anyone, no? link
Dave Smith Instruments Prophet ’08 Synthesizer Module. A table top or rack mount version of the Prophet ’08. If you want to play chords and you want real analog it’s either an uber pricey Studio Electronics Omega, something used or the new Prophet 08. The new module will be the least expensive way into the polyphonic analog world. link
Access Virus TI Snow. A small table top version of the Virus TI. I would rather have a real analog synth or a Waldorf Blofeld but I know the Virus sounds great. Somewhat unique in a hardware synth is the new Atomizer utility announced for Virus TI’s which allows for stuttery effects. link