Five Reasons To Get Your Tenori-On

Tenori On

Got $1,200?

Then maybe it’s time to get your Tenori-On.

Keyfax NewMedia has announced that it has Yamaha’s Tenori-On in stock.

With that in mind, here are five reasons to get your Tenori-On:

  1. Ooh, the pretty lights.
  2. It’s cheaper than a Monome.
  3. You’ve got a better demo video in you than Yamaha’s boring demo Tenori-On videos.
  4. You want to use it with Kyma to hypnotize synth bloggers.
  5. You can’t convince your girlfriend to try bikini wrestling as an experimental music controller.

OK – maybe these aren’t five great reasons to get a Tenori-On. Call me skeptical about this pretty set of on-off switches.

But if you’re planning on getting a Tenori-On, I’d be interested in hearing why you like it. Let me know in the comments!

9 thoughts on “Five Reasons To Get Your Tenori-On

  1. I picked one up a few weeks ago when I was back in the UK for a holiday. Made a 6 hour stop over, erm… fly by.

    The on-board sounds, as anyone knows, are not great (although I do like some of the IDM style drum kits) – but load up some of your own drums etc in there and it gets a lot more interesting. Hooked it into Live a couple nights ago and it’s a fun way to control soft synths, but the MIDI control sync has some issues. Need to experiment more to get it smoothly integrated into my setup.

    For people who aren’t big into music creation, my wife loves messing with the Tenori-On and has made some genuinely interesting stuff with it.

    Overall – right now I love this thing. However I do hope we see a firmware upgrade that’ll unlock some more potential. $1200 IS a lot of money when you consider the sounds – but it does inspire in the way sitting at a keyboard doesn’t seem to anymore.


  2. I have been loving mine. It is definitely limited, but for the things it is good at, it is VERY good. Since I have no musical training (and I am also a visual artist) the interface is fantastic for me. I am developing a whole new relationship to melody.
    I am using it for two main things:

    1) Controlling my modular synth (via a Kenton Pro-Solo mkII). It has definitively replaced my Frostwave Fat Controller. It is basically the same number of steps but with way, WAY more options and a much better interface.

    2) Sampler/Sketchpad. Between the three user voices and a few of the more usable built-in sounds, it is totally functional as a sampler/drum machine for composing and of course the battery power provides an interesting bonus of being able to compose in different and potentially inspirational settings…. in bed before sleep, on the toilet, in the park, etc…

    I agree with the masses that a firmware update is rather desperately needed, a lot of the built-in sounds are pretty weak, and it is a bit overpriced for what it does. That did not stop me.

  3. Nic, Rafael

    It’s so limited in comparison to a software sequencer like Ableton Live – do you think the Tenori-On’s killer feature is just that it’s a piece of hardware, rather than software you have to configure?

  4. Well, for me that is a strong selling point, yes. I am not a software guy. I leave computers until the very last moment possible in my composition process. I record and edit and add some effects in computers, but that is about it.

    Another issue worth mentioning for me is that limits are often very strong compositional motivators. If you are working within a limited structure, you often have to find new ways of doing old things and it can send you off in new directions. Not to even mention the “anything is possible” paralysis that I know I suffer from at times in the face of a do-it-all software like Live or MAX/MSP. Give me a handful of effects pedals any day (ok fine a table-full).

  5. My attraction is for the same reason. I like hardware, the knoby’er the better. This device looks visually fun and can be used as a performance device, and controller. I’m not interested in buying MAX/MSP so the monome was not a good choice and my own DIY project went on the back burner when this came out.

    Although I will not consider buying it until there are usable sounds. I like making drum and bass so until someone can confirm for me that the sounds are great, or until I see a demo in Canada I am going to hold off.

  6. I got one and really like it. I have some musical experience from childhood but have not really done anything musical since I was 13 (I am 39). Once I learned how to put it into “Advance Mode” (Hold down R1 & R5 when you turn it on) so I could change the layer types things got a lot more interesting. The built in voices are kind of lame, but if you play around with octave and note length they can do some interesting things– I have put together some thundering bass lines by shifting down octaves some unlikely sounds (who knew thumb piano could thump?).

    I like the intuitive feel, being able to put together a layer on the fly and adjust the notes until they sound right. While the 16 note length for a layer is a bit limiting, it does force you to come up with concise motifs (Unlike, say GarageBand, which lets you ramble).

    It is easy to use. My three year old has fun with the “Bounce” mode. It is also a convenient size. I am having fun making something like music and it is getting me interested in the more versatile electronic instruments that are out there today. (Kaossilator and KaossPad sound like things I will need to check out).

  7. I am a no talent but want so bad to make music. I have tried all kinds of hard and software based devices. I have wasted thousands on virtually every type of so called cool sounds machine. I am sure this will be no different but I cannot help myself. I am a hopeless wannabe looking for my next music buzz. My favorite piece from way back in 1996 was NewBeat Trancemission by Microforum. Why can’t there be more like that. Also I liked the yamaha DJX II keyboard. I need simple not so complicated and easy synchronization. Some of these newer tools require serious patience and brainpower of which I have little of either. I did just recently buy a kaossilator which is pretty cool for a 100 bucks. If the TO is 10 times more productive for me, it will be worth the $1K. I will let you know after I spend some time with it.

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