“I heard about the Tenori-On when it was being test-marketed in the U.K. in 2007,” says Eric Van der Wyk, aka King Tet, reportedly the ninth person in the U.S. to obtain the experimental Japanese instrument whose name means “Sound in the palm of your hand.”
“It’s a synthesizer and a looping sequencer and a 16-part multi-timbral MIDI controller,” says Van der Wyk, “on an eight-inch-square polished magnesium frame with 16 rows and 16 columns of LED buttons. These 256 buttons are what you play, and they light up as you play them, so the instrument is a vehicle of light and sound. Each button represents an internal sound, so there are 256 different instruments including three user banks that allow you to create custom instruments as well.”
The Tenori-On was invented by Toshio Iwai, a Japanese video-game designer who’d previously designed the musical puzzle game Elektroplankton for Nintendo DS.
“It’s like having a 16-track studio with a different musician on each channel,” says Van der Wyk, best known locally as a banjo player and for his audio restoration firm King Tet Productions. “In performance, up to 16 different loops can be created, and everything you create can be saved.”
King Tet’s new album is called What Do You Turn On When You Tenori-On? “People are a little bewildered when they see it in action.”
What Do You Turn On When You Tenori-On?
No MP3s are currently available for this album.
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