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Yamaha Tenori-On

Dolphin id:33621 Product SKU:TNR-W

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The Tenori-On is a revolutionary new concept, and is not only a very useful and versatile tool for professional musicians and producers, but also a fantastic instrument for those who never thought they could play anything, due to it's "visible music" interface.

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TENORI-ON CARRY BAG! view it here

Media artist Toshio Iwai and Yamaha have collaborated to design a new digital musical instrument for the 21st century, TENORI-ON. A 16x16 matrix of LED switches allows everyone to play music intuitively, creating a "visible music" interface.

The Tenori-On is a revolutionary new concept, and is not only a very useful and versatile tool for professional musicians and producers, but also a fantastic instrument for those who never thought they could play anything, due to it's "visible music" interface.

You can also apply for our new Credit Scheme and spread the cost of the Tenori-On.


The TENORI-ON 16 x 16 LED button matrix is simultaneously a performance input controller and display. By operating and interacting with the LED buttons and the light they produce you gain access to the TENORI-ON's numerous performance capabilities.

The TENORI-ON provides six different performance and sound/light modes for broad performance versatility, and these modes can be combined and used simultaneously for rich, complex musical expression.


TENORI-ON layers can be thought of as “performance parts” or “recording tracks.” The TENORI-ON has a total of 16 layers. Separate notes and voices can be assigned to each layer, and all layers can be played together in synchronization.

The 16 layers are divided into six performance mode groups as shown in the illustration below. The six modes have different note entry methods and operation. Up to 16 layers created using different modes can be combined for rich, complex musical expression.



One complete set of 16 layers is called a “block.”

The TENORI-ON can store up to 16 programmed blocks (16-layer groups) in memory, and you can switch from block to block instantly during performance.

You could, for example, create a musical composition in one block, then copy that composition to another block and edit it to create a variation of the original composition. Or you can load a number of previously-created compositions into separate blocks from an SD Memory Card and switch between them to create variation during playback.

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The TENORI-ON provides six different performance and sound/light modes for broad performance versatility, and these modes can be combined and used simultaneously for rich, complex musical expression.


Press an LED button briefly to play the sound assigned to it. At the same time the lights will flash outward from the played sound. If you hold the LED button a bit longer it will remain lit and will become an active note that will play repeatedly. Press and hold an active note to de-activate it. The loop indicator will be continuously cycling from the left to right edge of the LED button matrix. Active notes will play when the loop indicator coincides with their positions on the matrix.


If you press an LED button long enough to enter an active note in the Random Mode, the active note will play back repeatedly. If you then enter a few more active notes, the lights will "travel" from note to note, in the order entered, and the active notes will sound when the traveling light passes over them. The Random Mode thus produces a totally different type of loop from the Score Mode.

You can even spin loop-shapes you create in the Random Mode by holding the [L4] button and running a finger around the matrix in the direction and at the speed of the desired spin. The pitches of the notes will change accordingly as the shape spins, producing loop sound effects. To stop rotation, press and hold the LED button or press the same LED button twice while holding the [L4] button.


In this mode you can press individual LED buttons or draw lines or curves on the matrix, and those actions will be played back and repeated. You can keep adding to your "composition" during playback to build up thick sonic textures.

In the Draw Mode you cannot clear only a part of the performance. The entire layer can be cleared by pressing the [CLEAR] button.


Press an LED button and the light will "drop" from that button, bounce back from the bottom of the matrix, and repeat. The corresponding note will sound when the light bounces at the bottom row. The higher the entry point, the longer the interval between the sound. In the Bounce Mode the pitches are arranged horizontally, like a piano, with the lowest pitch on the left and the highest on the right.


In this mode if you press and hold an LED button the sound of the corresponding note will begin to change gradually while the flashing surrounding that button gets brighter and wider. If the button is held briefly the note and flashing will stop when you release it, but if you hold the button for longer the note and flashing will continue even after the button is released.


Press an LED button and the corresponding note will repeat until the button is released. In the Solo Mode the pitches are arranged horizontally, like a piano. You can change the interval between repeats by pressing or sliding your finger to a lower (longer) or higher (shorter) LED button in the column. If you press the lowest LED button in a column the note will sound once without any repeats.



  • Note Resolution ô = 96clocks
  • Gate Time 10 ms ~ 9990 ms
  • Octaves -5 ~ +5
  • Tempo (BPM) 40 ~ 240
  • Scales 9 types
  • Transpose -7 ~ +8
  • Performance Modes 6 types: Score, Random, Draw, Bounce, Push, Solo
  • Other Functions Clock, power-save, synchronized performance with two instruments, recording, TENORI-ON song playback
  • Maximum Active Notes Push Mode: 64
  • Random Mode: 64 points
  • Draw MMoode: 64 points

Tone Generator

  • Tone Generator Type AWM2
  • Maximum Polyphony 32 notes
  • Preset Voices 253 (239 normal, 14 drum kit)
  • Effects 2 processors
  • Reverb: 10 types
  • Chorus: 5 types
  • Sampling 3 voices (Raw audio with a maximum length of 0.97 sec., up to 16 samples per voice)
  • * Using the supplied TENORI-ON User Voice Manager software.


  • Save: Song / Block / Layer / Setting / Sampling
  • Load: Song / Block / Layer / Setting / Sampling
  • Rename: Song / Block / Layer / Setting / Sampling
  • Delete: Song / Block / Layer / Setting / Sampling
  • Format

Controller & Display

  • LED Buttons 256
  • Rear LED Display Points 256
  • Function Buttons 10 (L1 ~ L5, R1 ~ R5)
  • CLEAR, OK, CANCEL Buttons 1 each
  • Jog Dial
  • Display 122 x 32 dot graphic LCD device (yellow-green backlight), 20 characters x 4 lines, monochrome


  • Stereo Speakers 1-watt output power


  • Line Out / Phones Stereo mini phone jack x 1
  • Mini DIN MIDI IN: for synchronized performance using two TENORI-ON instruments
  • MIDI OUT: for external device control
  • Card Slot SD Memory Card compatible
  • DC In Connector for PA-3C, PA-130 or equivalent Yamaha AC adaptor
  • Power Supply 6 “AA” alkaline batteries Approx. 5 hours continuous playback.
  • AC Adaptor PA-3C, PA-130 or equivalent Yamaha AC adaptor

Dimensions & Weight

  • Dimensions 205 x 205 x 32 mm
  • Weight 650 grams (without batteries)
  • Supplied Accessories Mini DIN cable, CD-ROM x 1, AC Adaptor (PA-3C, PA-130 or equivalent Yamaha AC adaptor), Quick Guide,
  • Installation Guide, Precautions, Warranty


Image: Yamaha Tenori-On

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Yamaha Tenori-On Reviews


An instrument that makes my whole family cheerful.

It\'s impossible to rate this instruemnt, since there is really nothing out there to compare it with. Iwai san wanted to create an electronic instrument that has it\'s own identity, beaty and special qualities like a well built guitar for instance, and he has succeded. The choice of materials and all the details are very well thought out (magnesium instead of aluminium for instance, reflects light differently), and it does have a \'feel\' of a very beautiful thing. In it\'s limited numbers it is probably more hand built than any electric guitars sub 1.000.
If you\'re looking for a MIDI sound module and/or a simple sequencer for scetching out ideas within a mainstream pop/techno/trance idom only and don\'t care about the \'feel\' of it, you can probably get better value elsewhere. The Tenori-on does offer instant blip blop, and there\'s a growing numbers of YouTube videos to show just how boring that can be.
The limitations is a part of the feature set, and it\'s when you start to work up against them that interesting things will start to happen. You do need imagination to get the best of this instrument. Myself I have a classical music education where I chose to focus on 12-tone and other mathematical music. Rather surprisingly it has helped me a lot to get outside the otherwise naïve / banal paths you can be hooked into so easily. Even if the 16 x 16 matrix instead of a keyboard helps freeing you from traditional thinking, it surley has its own clichés.
I think the tradeoffs are well thought out, generally. The soundset is limited with almost only short sounds. Mine runs on batteries for the 8th hour now, which I find great, and that wouldn\'t be possible with huge sounds. Things like that - very well thought out. This is not for everyone, and kudos to Yamaha to make it available to the general public at all.


Unique and the beginning

The Tenori-on has been raved about on the internet, and it\'s been panned too. It can do a lot more than most step-sequencers, but it does have some limitations.

The voice set could be improved and the number of sample banks could be increased. And there are other things too numerous to mention.

That said, it can achieve a great deal all by itself, and as a musicians \'play tool\' it is unique.

Expect more tenori-on-like instruments in the future, when it will be come a future classic.

Cool, expensive, but worth it!

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