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Grand Prize


IWAI Toshio / "TENORI-ON" Development Team (NISHIBORI Yu, Representative)

Musical instrument [Japan]

A device with an interface similar to a video game console, and designed to use light and sound to create a new type of musical instrument. The 256 LRD lights, arranged so that there are 16 vertical lines in 16 horizontal rows, function as switches; they create patterns of light that allow the player to visually control the sound. This entry made a great impression, and was developed cooperatively with a company to create a marketable product.

© IWAI Toshio / Yamaha Corporation


IWAI Toshio


A media artist. Born in Aichi, 1962. Received his degree from the Graduate School of Art and Design, University of Tsukuba. Won the Gold Prize at the 17th Contemporary Japanese Art Exhibition in 1985, the youngest winner ever. He has produced many pieces that take as their theme the fusion of light, sound and physicality, including a performance with SAKAMOTO Ryuichi, which won the Grand Prize at Ars Electronica in 1997, and ELECTROPLANKTON for Nintendo DS.

( 2008 )



Born in 1978. After graduating from the Faculty of Environment and Information Studies, Keio University, he was employed by YAMAHA and assigned to the Sound Technology Development Center, which is a part of R&D department in YAMAHA. He has been engaged in the development of TENORI-ON as a producer for YAMAHA since 2001. Currently his work at the center involves studying new musical interfaces.

( 2008 )

Award Reason

In music creation, sound sources have undergone a revolutionary change in last 40 years, as electronically synthesized sounds (synthesizers) and recorded original sound (samplers) have become normal resources. However, the main interface that controls these sound sources is still either the keyboard, which has changed very little since the Middle Ages, or pads that imitate traditional percussion instruments. The reason for this award was the inevitability of this innovation. More significantly, it has made the interface, i.e. the connecting surface between a human and a machine, into a piece of commercial hardware. This device can certainly be played casually without any musical knowledge, and it has an unknown number of possibilities. Other than this device, I personally am aware of no other instrument (or musical interface) that so strongly inspires the first-time player to take on a new challenge.

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