December 2012 Archives

Japan Music Trades Marks 50th Year

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Launched in 1962 by late Rikuro Hiyama, Japan Music Trades, music products industry trade magazine, marked a commemorative 50th year and held a reception party at Tobu Hotel Levant Tokyo on November 5 inviting more than 200 industry members and long-time contributors.

The JMT first issue came out in January 1963 in hopes of serving the Japanese music products industry with broad base of international and domestic news and feature stories. We believe that this mile stone was only achieved with full support from the industry members. Taking this opportunity, we extend our special thanks to all the people involved and helped us to continue our service.

Mr.-Ohashi.jpg Mitsuru Umemura, presidents of Japan Musical Instruments Association, and Yamaha Corporation, Yukio Ohashi, chairman of Prima Gakki and Nobuo Nishioka, a regular contributor, and Professor Emeritus, Osaka College of Music, delivered cordial opening speeches, and Sanjiro Kawamorita, ex-vice chairman of Kawai Musical Instruments Mfg. gave a toast. The Sonare wind/string ensemble entertained the guests with graceful music. (photos right: Mitsuru Umemura, left and Yukio Ohashi.)

A sad news came after the reception party as Michi Ogawa (Yoshimi), ex- director and editor of Japan Music Trades, died on Nov. 7. She collapsed with subarachnoid hemorrhage when she gave a speech at the reception party. She was immediately taken to local hospital, but passed away two days later. Ogawa much admired musical instruments craftsmen and frequently wrote about them during her times at Japan Music Trades. We are very sorry for her sudden death. With her passion for work and friendly character she will be remembered long in the industry. 

Technical Grammy Award to Ikutaro Kakehashi

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Roland announced on Dec. 14 that The Recording Academy gave Technical Grammy Award to Ikutaro Kakehashi, founder and special consultant of Roland Corporation and Dave Smith, ex Sequential Circuits president.

The award honors individuals and corporations contributed to recording music society with innovative technology. This year the Academy named Kakehashi and Smith, as the recipients for their dedication in launching MIDI Standard, standard commands for digital musical instruments, computers and other related devices to connect and communicate with one another. The organization recognized that MIDI Standard greatly contributed to the growth of music industry.

Kakehashi commented, "MIDI celebrates 30th anniversary this year. Digital musical instruments have been widely played in the world today. I feel very honored that MIDI plays a great role and the standard took shape by two companies in the industry having one same goal toward brighter future of digital music. I would like to share this honor with Tadao kikumoto, then Roland Engineering Dept. manager and his colleagues, and all the people involved who helped us to establish a system concept of MIDI Standard."


Shinseido Transfers Music Retail Businesses to Yamano Music

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It was announced on November 30 that Shinseido and Yamano Music, leading musical instruments/CD retail chains, reached an agreement to transfer Shinseido's musical instrument retail sales, internet sales divisions, and music teaching studio operations to Yamano Music. The transaction will be closed on February 1.

Shinseido released a statement on October 1 telling a new business and financial cooperation with Wonder Corporation, a 96-store retail chain of computer games, music software, CDs, DVDs, books, hobby products, cosmetics, etc. with 65,689 million yen latest consolidated annual sales.

According to the release, Shinseido will continue distribution of Rickenbacker and other imported music products in the Japanese market, and operate the retail stores handling both musical instruments and CDs. The company spokesperson said in the announcement that the transaction is intended to improve overall business performance and enhance value of company assets.  

Founded as a recorded music products retail store in Tokyo in 1949, Shinseido operates 168 CD, music DVD retail outlets throughout Japan including 6 Rock Inn music stores in Tokyo. 

C7X_SH.jpgYamaha has refined Silent Series hybrid pianos and announced 9 new SH Type grand and 12 upright pianos which will be distributed on January 10. First introduced in 1993, Silent pianos have much improved today through numerous refinements since then.

SH_6946.jpgRei Furukawa, Manager, Hybrid Piano Design section, Product Development Dept., Piano Division, says, "The largest feature of the new SH models is greatly advanced tonal quality brought by new CFX Binaural Sampled sound generators. Players will better feel the tonal difference by playing themselves through headphone rather than listening to live demo sound". (Photo right Shuhei Yahagi, left and Rei Furukawa.)

Unlike the conventional sound sampling which samples sound with microphones laid out near piano frame or without microphones a little away from piano, binaural sampling system samples sound setting up a dummy head with built-in microphones around the same height as head of pianist. The system can take multiple tonal elements including sound wave reverberated on player's head and earlobe in addition to direct sound from piano. Listening to the sampled sound through stereo headphone, it delivers sound field with far richer tonal presence than traditional style sampling. That is a solution to maximize authenticity of Silent Series hybrid pianos whose players are more likely to play through headphone than digital piano or Disklavier players.

Though Yamaha started study of binaural sampling 15 years ago in search of innovative sound generators for Silent Series pianos, there were not a few delicate points to materialize the core technologies. Massive data including mic setting accumulated over the years have resulted in the new high quality binaural sampling sound engines which can elaborately reproduce tonal color and resonance of Yamaha's CFX top line concert grand piano.

Furukawa explains, "The overall effect of binaural sampling will be better identified by setting a headphone of its right and left sides adversely." In fact one of the pianists who examined a new SH model was about to leave the instrument with the headphone over his head forgetting wearing it. The newly designed headphone features high standard of tonal quality and open sound which allow pianist to play for long hours without fatigue.

Functions inherited from digital piano
The development team consisted of engineers across many departments from Digital Musical Instrument Division to AV Equipment Division. Naturally, some technologies and functions used for Clavinova digital pianos are transplanted into SH Type pianos. For example, instrument voices of the SH Series increased to 19 adding such dual voices as Piano Plus Synth Pad and Piano Plus Strings. Also, XG sound generators for sound data playback joined to download music from Muma music store data distribution terminals, Yamaha Music Data Shop (, etc.

The SH pianos provide 256-note polyphonic capabilityfor the first time for Silent hybrid piano. The sound recording function is compatible with WAV format for storage of CFX high quality piano sound into USB memory.

Shuhei Yahagi, Piano Marketing, Keyboard Dept., Sales & Marketing Division, talks about advanced functions of SH pianos, "We see increasing number of customers take advanced models of digital piano as an alternative to Silent hybrid pianos these years. That's why we added WAV-compatible XG sound modules in SH series for advanced recording and music playback. They provide SH customers increased choices of recording performance data to be played back on portable audio player or bake into CD. We hope these new features meet the requirements of younger players."

SH_Units.jpgAs functions are upgraded, the control unit has been also refined into a more compact and stylish structure. A white finish which is much favored in Europe is now available. Yahagi says, "More than 30% of our total piano sales in Europe come from Silent line reflecting strong demands for hybrid type overseas. Needs for efficient sound control are high among players living in cozy apartment houses in Europe as well. In this context, Silent piano has been supported by a broad number of pianists in the world markets, and become an integral source for selection."

Serious European piano players are stick to key touch and tonal quality of acoustic piano. Yamaha has distributed Avitecs sound-proof capsules to be installed in private home exclusively in Japan over the years. Without this type of sound-control system overseas, the market for hybrid pianos may be larger than Japan. In the domestic market, 30% of upright and 15% of grand piano sales are Silent models largely used by urban dwellers.

Yamaha Silent Series Hybrid Pianos

SH Type (Grand Pianos)
C1X-SH ¥2,000,000
C2X-SH ¥2,150,000
C2XCP-SH ¥3,150,000
C3X-SH ¥2,550,000
C5X-SH ¥2,850,000
C6X-SH ¥3,150,000
C7X-SH ¥3,650,000
C1TDSH ¥1,690,000
C3TD-SH ¥2,300,000

SH Type (Upright Pianos)
YUS1SH ¥1,020,000
YUS1MhC-SH ¥1,270,000
YUS1Wn-SH ¥1,200,000
YUS3SH ¥1,130,000
YUS3MhC-SH ¥1,380,000
YUS3Wn-SH ¥1,310,000
YUS5SH ¥1,370,000
YUS5MhC-SH ¥1,620,000
YUS5Wn-SH ¥1,550,000
YC1SH ¥748,000
YF101C-SH ¥980,000
YF101W-SH ¥980,000