In my teens I was a Fostex X-15 user, and only got rid of it when it decided to give up on me. Years later when I was slowly getting myself back into making music I decided that I needed another 4-track.
Since my days of the X-15 a lot had changed, and I stumbled upon the Tascam PS5. It was just what I was after, a 4-track but much much more. The PS5 also had an on board GM module that you could use for drums and bass and rhythm. It was fantastic, and no bigger than a video cassette.
I bought my PS5 off eBay, and sold it there too. One thing that really sold me on it was this article from Sound on Sound. It is really detailed and tells you all you need to know.
I know that by today’s standards the PS5 is huge. I think you could probably get four Boss Micro-BRs into its casing, but it was a real find back then in 2002 and still a worthwhile machine today.
With the launch of Tenori-on I’ve been thinking more about more about what makes a handheld instrument. Part of this is thinking about how you would play live with handhelds and portable devices.
I was interested / encouraged by the Electroplankton quartet and I’m sure we might see Tenori-on groups appearing over the next months, but with ordinary handhelds I’m not sure it is as easy, although I could be wrong.
With the Tenori-on there is something inherently visual to the device that makes it watchable and a performance instrument. PDAs or handhelds don’t have that ability, they lack any kind of performance dimension to them, which is a shame.
So what kind of interface would make a generic PDA into a performance instrument? I’ve been thinking about that question for a while now, and I don’t have a definitive answer, but I think that there must be a way to give the lowly generic PDA an interface for performance and collaboration. Something really startling.
I’m sure someone will dream it up one day. I just hope that someone out there makes it work.