March 9th,

Expanding The Realm Of Music


Expanding The Realm Of Music

In order to realize collaboration with various domains, Dentsu Lab Tokyo occasinally hosts talk session where artists, technologists, data scientists, scholars, writers come together.
Taken from Cai Guo-Qiang’s “Caretta Fountain”, a fountain of turtle, this talk session is named “Kamekai” (which literally translates as the “Turtle Gathering”) and aimed to bring various thoughts and view points among the participants and create an interactive session that won’t become a mere lecture.

invisible designs lab. / インビジブル・デザインズ・ラボ

Music and Interaction

invisible designs lab.
A music producing company that is involved in music-centered creatives such as producing “Xylophone” of NTT docomo, and composing and arranging for “Songs sound like that age” for NHK DATA NAVI.

◇Kenjiro Matsuo
Matsuo has extensive talents for a composer, music director, media artist, creative director, technical director, technical director, and researcher.
Matsuo’s creatives are made from a wide range of perspectives of software, hardware, etc. He has kept the approaching style for a long time that composition starts from expression by using sounds. Covering broad range of genres, ethnic music, jazz, latin and contemporary, Matsuo is always trying to evolve and embody what a composer in the upcoming age should be. Hard-Origami is his specialty.


◇Syunichi Yamamoto
Device engineer. After his first semester of PH.D. of the quantum science and technology department in the Graduate School of Science and Technology of Nihon University, and following certain life experiences, Yamamoto joined Yamamoto Factory in 2009. He started the R&D department “tkrworks” by himself with nobody’s permission, and now is working for developing and selling niche-devices, and further developing original devices for musicians and artists. He has full skills of Open Sound Control to program systems for communication and control and designing electric circuits. He developed High Performance Double Pendulum.

It’s very nice to meet you. I’m Kenjiro Matsuo from invisible designs lab. This is Mr. Yamamoto from Yamamoto Factory.

Hello. Nice to meet you.

We often work together and I’m a sales person and planner. At first, I started as a composer. I also was working for media art for a long period, and visited UK. Around 2000, I was showing around our performance to sell “what we can do”, but people said “what is this for?” and didn’t care us at that time.

After this experience, I started a company in 2001, making music for commercial films partially because I started as a musician.

By collaborating with people who wanted to make interactive art or something like media art, I tried many kinds of expression. During this process, I met Mr. Yamamoto and was surprised because he was outstanding and in the same direction of mine. First, we both loved musical interface, and were ambitious about drawing the future of music. This coincidence made us go forward hand in hand.

invisible designs lab. is a creative team involving interactive art and others. The sections of music and art have been made at once to kick off plans involving both software and hardware.

Let me introduce works from the music section.

NORITZ TV-commercial “Tasty Spelling” 30 sec
Nintendo Wii Sound Logo
Sony Ericsson Sound Logo

CF “We love sports” 60sec

2020 Sound track of the Tokyo Olympics hosting promotion film

The sound logo and sound were created by us.

When a comic “The Diary of Ochibi” was made into anime, we made the music. The animation was all made from food.

The Diary of Ochibi

Lately, “SHINFURO” movie became very famous. Our member Mr. Kiyokawa made this.

*1. Shinya Kiyokawa: Music director, videographic director

In here, we created music. To appeal a lot of ONSEN (hot springs for bathing) in Beppu City in Oita prefecture, the professionals who experienced Olympics or others synchronized in hot spring bathtubs in the city.

[Onsen Prefecture] SHINFURO full version: Synchronized Swimming in Hot Springs

The sound track version was also produced for this project. Actually, the sounds earlier were all recorded in Oita prefecture.

[Onsen Prefecture] Orchestration Of Oita, SHINFURO full version: Synchronized Swimming in Hot Springs

I asked to Mr. Kiyokawa, “This looks a very hard job”. But he replied, “This will become my style”. Provably he found a pathway of his own production.
The first drop of this stream for invisible designs lab. was the work called “Xylophone”. I joined the project to make a movie to show docomo’s wooden mobile phones. Members were collected, and curbing wood to make the xylophone was the first step.


This work became a new start for me. I was working on media art and I think this job offer came to me as I was able to handle music and hardware simultaneously.

I liked to work according to instructions. On the other hands, I desired to join a planning team. I wanted to become a composer who can make proposals actively.

Eye Play the Piano

The device put on the eyes is called Head Mount Display. The screen has the function to track line of sight to know what is looked at by the player. The idea was the screen is used as an interface so that eyes can play the piano. He has never played the piano, but loved music, and had a strong will to address this challenge.

The relationship of interface and music is a great theme of ours. To expand music experience, technology and science is indispensable. I’m a music expert and would be able to generate a new genre by combining something I like.

I believe sound has some kind of telepathic effect. In other words, something invisible that shakes people’s hearts or transmits a message to people. This links to Our company name of invisible designs lab.

Sequencer can synchronize images or movement to music by exchanging MIDI data. This allows hardware to move in accordance with music, and showing entertainment to audience. So we made a robot-band called Z-MACHINES.

Z-MACHINES Guitar Robot Speed Test

This surprised me at how far away it has been achieved, and impressed me with a relationship of music and hardware again.

Z-MACHINES social party robot band

In the next project, a metallophone was dissected to play music.

Invisible Designs Lab: Time Cord

Sounds become images. When people scratch the turntable, it is reflected to the images.

I’m introducing a recent project we planned. My company has an artist, KAMRA. He has released CDs by himself. Now KAMRA made an interactive PV. If you access it through PC, a camera captures your face, and then your PV is automatically created using the photo.

Deja vu | KAMRA

As a stage of expression, advertising is now expanding from TV to the web. And either of them gives motions on screens. In my preference, interface should be touched, if it’s interesting. An electronic piano has keys. These keys are a rare sample of device placed “outside” computer. They are placed outside of the body of computer, like a mouse. A device placed away from computer would be highly versatile. If these keys are dissected, they can be used as an interface. This is the idea, and at some point before 2000, I already started to pick up garbage and remodel them. So I believe the relationship between hardware and software is physical and our real live bodies can feel it.

Thanks to interfaces, barriers between industries have been well lowered. For example, an application of iPhone allows music play, or Illustrator allows drawing if you are not a designer. I think we live in the age of “a small effort makes you a creator”. So if we have our own specialty and add another genre here, we can make unique characteristics by ourselves. In this sense, by computer downsizing and cost-lowering and progress in prototyping, music and hardware can be combined in robots such as Z-MACHINES.

Music was originally interactive. And music has capacity which anyone can join. In my belief, there exist much more various expressions besides releasing records and singing Karaoke. Music is still waiting for a new future to find. Through new expressions, I hope to find new values of and expand the field of music.

As a conclusion, I’d like to mention “the potential of expression in advertisement”. Advertisement can stand alone even when the product has not been 100% completed. For example, we didn’t sell Z-MACHINES, so we didn’t have to think of after-sales care of the machines. In other words, expression in advertisement is an experiment funded if the client understands. If the product is well appreciated, the product will be funded and find a way to realize itself.

I’m passing to Mr. Yamamoto.

My family ran a factory of sporting goods like football goals. In college, I learned non-linear physics in the physics department.

As I studied non-linear physics, I was interested in chaos, and made an experimental equipment of “double pendulum” to see chaos.

High Performance Double Pendulum

After featured in a TV show by NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation), this double pendulum was also focused on by local TV shows. Other double pendulums are also in the movie sites, but their motion ends in around one minute. Let me explain why the High Performance Double Pendulum continues moving for as long as 10 minutes. Upon a request from my college, I was studying pendulums. When two metronomes beating in different tempo are placed on one desk, they eventually beat the same rhythm. To study this synchronization phenomenon by using actual double pendulums, I needed the pendulums that can move long. And thus I developed the pendulum that moves for a long time.

Further, I developed a higher version.

Triple Pendulum (test)

The weight is very heavy. The fixing base is around 500 kg.

Just because of your family making play equipment, you made it.

The pendulum spread to universities across Japan for a study purpose.

I met Mr. Matsuo because we have a common friend. We made this.

PICnome // numbxsaidrum // HD Ver.

Metal molds for buttons were used to make this.

It costed quite a bit (laughter).

We made a more DJ-like thing.

PrB demo by tatsuki* – HD ver.

We made this from a scratch. And highly appraised from overseas, but inside Japan, not really.

The point is, without stressing players, how touching music can be. For example, the interface is very important: the time lag from pushing a button to releasing a sound. Only 100 ms (one hundredth of a second) lag can make people uncomfortable.

After this, I received a request that he wanted to play music synchronized with images.

LaserGuitar fastSOLO.

He is now live-playing in many places.

Looking at his play, a player of Shamisen (Japanese traditional music instrument), Ms. Yumiko Tanaka was interested, and we worked together to develop SHAMInom. A sensor for acceleration rate was incorporated.


The next request was from the Japan Composer’s Association. The mice were used as keys.


We bought nearly 100 mice from many appliance stores, and arranged wiring.

You worked alone.

Yes, I did. I put respective 25 mice on 4 tables and used 4 substrates to change sounds.

The next is, get inside and swing a smartphone, and images on the upside, downside, left and right sides will jump together.

TV-Commercial │au “warp cube” 30 sec

In recording the sounds, we put recorders in several places to capture sounds in direction of 360 degrees, such as wind whispering at our ears. The recorders were moved according to image moving.

So far, I’ve made, in brief, only controllers. From now on, I would like to create and work for interesting things, taking advantage of skills and knowledge of DSP (digital signal processing) or non-linear physics.



Dentsu Lab Tokyo