Friday, December 18, 2009

Sound and Sight

I would seem to me, that in the world of synthesis, there is a strong connection between sound and sight. First, many of the synthesizers that have done very well are visually pleasing. The Minimoog and it's latter incarnation in the Voyager for example, allows the music an to clearly connect the abstract idea of a synthesizer patch to the visual cues of knobs. While not effecting function, I have to admit that even for myself, I like the wood of of a Voyager or Moogerfooger and the back lighting (mine is blue).

Synths that have not done as well are the Yamaha CS-80. Sure, Vangelis liked it not nearly as many were sold because in my mind, it was a cluttered layout and identifying what each control did, was not natural or easy. I have the softsynth version but have never liked it all that much. Interestingly enough, Alesis has somewhat repeated this in the Andromeda. Complexity does not always make for great music.

If the eye sees to much, it gets confused and it effects the unity of the music and the musician. The two work together.

So when I saw this little toy they callthe Tenori with it's myriad of flashing lights that remind one more of a video game than a musical instrument or sequencer, I was intrigued. I saw the bouncing ball mode (as I will call it, see the web site and you will know what I am talking about) and I thought right away, polyrhythms. What a great way to represent polyrhythms, balls bouncing up and down at different lengths.

I think what the Tenori does really well is allow the musician to see music moving in time, but it lacks the stuff of a serious instrument. It's sound set makes it seem like an arcade game and a toy. It has a weak set of effects as well and while able to use different scales, I did not see anything that made scales more visually pleasing. There are some hexagonal controllers that I think are fantastic for that. To bad no one could find a way to combine the temporal aspects of the tenori with the tonal/scalar aspects of hexagonal controllers.

Bottom line, $1000 for a toy is beyond my extravagance level. I have been on the market for a step sequencer but this is not it. The Orb also does not work for me because while the circular design is a nice gimmick, I see it as only that. A rather weak step sequencer with a gimmick. Genoqs makes some nice stuff and has some really power but its visually hidden and costly to boot, even more than the Tenori (by multiples). Plus, you need a computer for it and for me, this is a downside. I like self contained units.

In the end, I like the idea of Tenori but I find it's execution a bit weak and as I have alluded to, toy like. However, I think the direction that Tenori is going in, the idea of combining sound and sight is a good one and as I have said, has a long history of sauces.

I hope to see more from this company when they decide to make musical instruments and not toys. Not to be harsh, but that is calling it as I see it.

No comments: