Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Kero + Theremin = Keromin, an electronic instrument


At first glance, Keromin looks like a normal stuffed toy frog. But, it's actually an incredibly elaborate musical instrument.

Keromin is operated by inserting a hand and moving the frog's mouth like a hand puppet. Noise is emitted each time the frog's mouth opens. The exact type of noise that pipes out can be controlled using buttons on the frog's arms.

Keromin gets its name from "kero," the Japanese onomatopoeic word used to describe a frog's croak, and the Theremin, the first ever electronic musical instrument.

Keromin can make 12 different types of sounds, from a human mimicking a frog, to an actual amphibian, through to a violin and pipe organ. The tone of its sounds can also be adjusted, allowing it to "perform" solo or as part of an ensemble.

"I'm having lots of trouble learning my own instrument, so I wanted to create something that anyone could play," inventor Okuyama tells Sunday Mainichi, a current affairs weekly published by the Mainichi Newspapers.

Though it takes a bit of getting used to, about half an hour or so of messing around with Keromin should see the average person able to belt out a tune. Okuyama spent over a year developing it.

"Eventually," he tells Sunday Mainichi, "I'd like to come up with a few variations and create a whole orchestra."

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