TENORI-ON: Playing Light and Sound

TENORI-ON (sound on your palm) is a novel personal digital instrument for playing sound and ambient light patterns. This instrument was developed by Toshio Iwai and Yamaha Corporation and will be showcased at SIGGRAPH 2005 which will soon take place at Los Angeles Convention Center (July 31 – August 4).

[TENORI-ON: What is the right instrument for the “real” digital age?]

TENORI-ON is operated by touching 16×16 LED switches. You could think of them as musical keyboards that respond to the subtlety of your finger touch by emitting light waves, creating afterglow, and making soothing sound sequences. The instrument knows how long and from which direction the player touches each LED switch as well as the tilt angle. ITRON is used as the computational engine that handles complex processing in real time. It has a jog dial, LCD display, hi-quality stereo speakers, and four function switches in the frame. On the back side of the device are additional 16×16 LEDs that allow audience to see the light patterns as well. Multiple TENORI-ON devices can be connected for collaborative sessions and exchanging songs.

“Controlling light and sound as comfortably as playing musical instruments or painting pictures” — Toshio Iwai has long been interested in adressing this challenge. TENORI-ON, which is designed for esthetics and comfort, can be used as an ambient interior decoration object as well as an instrument. “A violin doesn’t work if any of its beautiful shape, sound quality, and usability is missing. However, electronic musical instruments often fail to create this inevitable relation of shape, sound, and usability. My goal with TENORI-ON is to make it the right instrument for the real digital age by rethinking what musical instruments should be.” (Toshio Iwai)

“Touchable Media Art” game