Tenori-on: you’ve seen the lights, now meet the group!
It’s a girl-band like no other: there are three of them, they’re called The Tenorions and the only instruments they play are – you guessed it – three Yamaha Tenori-ons!
It’s little wonder that in its short life the Tenori-on has had such a profound impact on music makers the world over. Artists are already creating albums using nothing but the Tenori-on, such is the power contained within that diminutive, brushed-aluminium casing. But Jason Air is taking the Tenori-on concept to a new level. With success in the worlds of Drum & Bass and Hip Hop, his latest venture sees him as the driving force behind the world’s first band to create music exclusively with the Tenori-on. Fittingly, this trio of Oriental techno-heads goes by the name of… The Tenorions.
The band comprises core members Nynn and Cici, who write the uncompromising and driving techno tracks that have already become The Tenorions trademark sound. With increasing bookings for live gigs, third Tenorion Fiona joins them on stage to complete the trio. They’ve recently returned from a tour of Spain and Portugal and have further bookings coming in from around the world. Perhaps their strangest booking to date, but clearly the most high profile, has been a performance on the Paul O Grady Show in April of this year.
Jason puts their initial success down to the popularity of the Youtube videos he posted throughout the Spring, and as a result they’ve garnered coverage in the NME, The Independent, and dozens of tech and music blogs.
WATCH: The Tenorions @ the Paul O'Grady Show
the girls made it to daytime TV...
For Nynn, Cici and Fiona, a lifetime either studying or producing music has prepared them well for life in the Tenorions. To begin with Nynn and Cici would write the tunes, taking responsibility for melody and percussion respectively, but as time has passed they’ve both seen a natural progression towards composing complete tracks in their own right – and all, of course, within the confines of that hand-held silver box.
But just what is it about this unique instrument that’s made the Tenorions and the Tenori-on such a hit with people worldwide? It’s surely no coincidence that the girls are booked to play gigs almost for the rest of this year and into the next.
“I haven't seen anything like it before,” Nynn tells us. “For us it shows a totally new way of creating music. And it's so much fun to play – it's as easy and intuitive to pick up as Nintendo, but the results… well, we’re creating art!”
But, of course, the concept of working within new boundaries comes with a lot of fresh challenges, as Jason is quick to outline.
“It’s totally changed the way we write music, for one thing. It’s nothing like writing in [Apple] Logic, you know! One aspect of Tenori-on that makes it such an instant tool for composing is that there are no filters or complicated plug-ins to program or convoluted menus to navigate. As a result it makes us think of the music in a more ‘musical’ way, if that, er… makes any sense?! It’s really easy to focus on the music and not get so caught up in the production side of making music. Ask any producer with a well-equipped modern studio and they’ll all tell you that it’s pretty easy to get side-tracked by the technology!”
“The great thing about composing with Tenori-on is that it’s all right there at your fingertips. I guess that’s the whole ethos of Tenori-on though. In Japanese it roughly translates to ‘in the palm’, and that’s exactly what the Tenori-on system gives you – a way to create melodies and program rhythms right there in the palm of your hand.”