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20 years of Maywa Denki

Tomoko Hashida
Assistant Professor, Department of Intermedia Art and Science, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Waseda University

Maywa Denki (1), which is a well-known media art unit, has the thorough style of a small to medium-sized company, where the president and officials (chairman, accountants, workers) wearing blue work clothes introduce pieces of work as products at business report shows and (live) product demonstrations. On the occasion of its 20th anniversary, I would like to introduce Maywa Denki, which is continuing to energetically expand its activity field.

Maywa Denki is famous for its diverse range of original music instruments (Tsukuba Series, NAKI Series, Voice Mechanics Series etc.), and from July 2013, the dance performance “ROBOT! (2)”, using these musical instruments and newly produced music robots, is being staged in France. (The performance will continue for three years.) Also, in Japan from January 21, 2014, the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa will host the “Maywa Denki Nonsense Machines Exhibition (3).” This exhibition will show, of course, the diverse range of musical instruments produced so far, and Maywa Denki’s much publicized new experiment “Maywa Denki Sketch Library”, will also be unveiled (the project showing all 5,000 idea sketches of product development to the public for free through crowd-funding).

Maywa Denki President Novumichi Tosa

Voice Mechanics Series: Seamoons

Maywa Denki Nonsense Machines Exhibition

Furthermore, Maywa Denki has also been actively making efforts in developing mass products so that this world view can also be experienced at home and not just at live performances and exhibitions. For example, because the “Otamatone Melody” has been preprogrammed for the pitch of a specific melody to come out in order, it is a musical instrument/toy with which anybody can easily perform music by generating sound and correctly keeping the beat (rhythm). This epoch-making device that greatly lowers the initial barriers to performing music with its cute external design has made it attractive to many people, becoming a huge hit. In addition, to commemorate its 20th anniversary, a USB version of the “Na-Cord”, which garnered a huge following after its release in 1995, has also gone on sale. This may be an interesting gadget if you use it as a peripheral device for musical instruments.

Otamatone Melody

Cute illustration drawn by the president

Na-Cord USB cable

With its unique style, Maywa Denki, in projects using crowd-funding and collaborations with domestic and overseas artists etc., sometimes embarks on new challenges and is always unrolling a diverse range of never-seen-before art and music activities. You need to keep an eye on the future activities of this company which has established an ultramodern, yet appealing, unusual style.

(3)http://www.maywadenki.com/news/[Exhibition] Maywa Denki Nonsense Machines Exhibition

Tomoko Hashida
Assistant Professor, Department of Intermedia Art and Science, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Waseda University

Graduated from the Department of Musicology, Faculty of Music, Tokyo University of the Arts and completed her doctorate (interdisciplinary information) at the University of Tokyo Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies. Started her current position after working as a project researcher at the University of Tokyo. Is involved in research of media contents technology for enhancing real-world experiences. Major awards include the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry Innovative Technologies (September 2012), the Virtual Reality Society of Japan Young Researchers Award (March 2012), and the Institute of Electronics, Information and Communication Engineers HC Award and MVE Award (December 2011, October 2011), etc.