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The Yamaha Tenori-on is an electronic musical instrument designed and created by the Japanese artist Toshio Iwai and Yu Nishibori of the Music and Human Interface Group at the Yamaha Center for Advanced Sound Technology. It consists of a hand-held screen in which a sixteen-by-sixteen grid of LED switches are held within a magnesium plastic frame. Any of these switches may be activated in a number of different ways to create sounds. Two built-in speakers are located on the top of the frame, as well as a dial and buttons that control the type of sound and beats per minute produced.
There are two versions of the device available. The original TNR-W (Tenori-On White) features a magnesium frame, 256 rear panel LEDs and can run on batteries whilst the more affordable TNR-O (Tenori-On Orange) features a white plastic frame, has no rear LEDs and does not take batteries. The modes and sound sets in these instruments are the same.
Both devices have an LCD screen on the bottom edge of the frame. Using the connection function, it is possible to play a synchronized session, or to send and receive songs between two of the devices.
Tenori-on was demonstrated at SIGGRAPH 2005 held in Los Angeles in August, 2005. A detailed discussion of the design of the Tenori-on is given in a paper presented at NIME 2006 conference held at IRCAM, Centre Pompidou in Paris, France in June, 2006.
Toshio Iwai has been using the Tenori-on in live performances (such as at Sónar in Barcelona, in June 2006, and Futuresonic in Manchester, in July 2006, the Futuresonic 2006 live show had some good feedback from the audience and that was one of the most important triggers to make it a real product). The instrument was launched in London on September 4, 2007 for a recommended retail price of $1,200 (£599). To promote this launch, three prominent electronic and experimental musicians -- Jim O'Rourke, Atom Heart, and Robert Lippok—were invited to compose "demo" tracks utilizing the device. These tracks have since been released as promotional MP3s from the Tenori-on website.
Iwai's intention was to create an electronic instrument of beauty.
- In days gone by, a musical instrument had to have a beauty, of shape as well as of sound, and had to fit the player almost organically. [...] Modern electronic instruments don't have this inevitable relationship between the shape, the sound, and the player. What I have done is to try to bring back these [...] elements and build them in to a true musical instrument for the digital age.
A World Tour introducing Tenori-on began in Frankfurt, Germany, on March 12, and finished in Tokyo on 25 April 2008. Artists on the tour included Jim O'Rourke, Atom Heart, To Rococo Rot, Pole, Robert Lippok, Sutekh, The Books, Krikor, Safety Scissors, I Am Robot and Proud, Lou6Journey and Nathan Michel. It is also featured as the Tonematrix on Audiotool.
Performers using the instrument
In the 8th episode of the fourth series of the British coming-of-age television drama series Skins the character Pandora performs an original song she wrote to cheer her friend Effy up on her Tenori-On. Several years later in a look back video on his favorite Skins musical moments, series co-creator Jamie Brittain revealed the Tenori-On used in the show is actually his and he lent it to the production as producers did not want to spend money on buying one for that scene.
Björk has used a Tenori-on in her live performance of the song Who Is It on Voltaic tour.
Gotan Project on tour 2010/2011.
Mexican electronic music act Nortec Collective Presents Bostich + Fussible
LEEDZ techno music act from UK uses Tenori-on in live performances.
Jonathan Coulton frequently uses a Tenori-On when performing his song My Monkey.
Film composer, Hans Zimmer, used the Tenori-On during his performance at The Dark Knight premiere.
Film composer, Luis Delgado, used the Tenori-On as an inspiration tool for the "Planetario de Madrid" music.
Bulgarian DJ/Producer KiNK used the instrument during his performance at the Strawberry Fields festival in Australia.
Sami Abadi experimental violinist and electronic musician uses Tenori-On in his live solo performances as well with the group triØN.
TNR-i (Tenori-on as a software app)
As of June 2011, Yamaha made Tenori-on also available as a software app for Apple iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod).
In 2013, a second app TNR-e was released, with a changed sound set to suit the EDM style of music, and an additional effects section.
- Iwai, Toshio. Tenori-On. Int'l. Conf. on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques.
- Nishibori, Yu; Iwai, Toshio (2006). "Tenori-on" (PDF). Proceedings. Int'l. Conf. on New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME-06). pp. 172–175.
- "boots got a new toy". YouTube. Retrieved 28 November 2011.
- "Resident Advisor". Retrieved 10 January 2015.
- Video J-J. Birgé with artist Nicolas Clauss
- Video J-J. Birgé with cellist Vincent Segal
- (in French) 
- "Mark Barrott, Future Loop Foundation". Yamaha. Retrieved 4 December 2011.
- Izzy (2014-05-02). "Priscilla Ahn Deliberately Deserted and Back Again". Philthy Mag. Retrieved 2014-05-11.
- "TNR-i - TENORI-ON - Yamaha".
- "Reviews: Yamaha Tenori-on". Future Music. No. 193. Autumn 2007. pp. 76–81. ISSN 0967-0378. OCLC 1032779031.
- Yamaha Tenori-on Official Global Website
- Yamaha Tenori-on Official USA Website
- Yamaha Tenori-on Official European Website
- The world's first TNR album (Seven Days Microsleep) produced by Norman Fairbanks
- This gadget rocks! The world's newest musical instrument, The Independent
- Source for version 2.0 of the Tenori-On firmware
- Yamaha Tenori-On Sound On Sound review (archive.org)