Otamatone From Maywa Denki (White)
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- The otamatone can be played easily and has an analog to digital sound motion with the sounds of a drum.
- The single note chord has three phases High,Middle and Low. It has the parts divided equally and can be dynamically ensembled just like before.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
A curious factor about the instrument is the funny face it wears. It seems happy to exist. But, when you play the thing, you can't help but feel that you're doing nothing but causing it immense and eternal pain. It's jarring to see the steep contrast between those two factors at play.
But, who am I to judge? Although I haven't been able to recognize a reason for its existence, the Otamatone, when at still, seems to be content with its place in the world. And maybe that's all that really matters.
I am a professional music teacher, so I will include some musician-related thoughts on the Otamatone. First of all, this instrument is extremely difficult to play with any level of proficiency. It has no neck markings at all and it takes a good ear to find the right pitches. The scaling of pitches is similar to that of a stringed instrument, with physical space between notes decreasing as the pitch increases. The space between octaves decreases by about half on one range selection.
The timbre is best described through a visit to YouTube, but I could summarize it as a warm, harsh, almost overdriven sawtooth synthesizer tone.
The Otamatone does not appear to be dependent on a 12-tone chromatic scale, as quarter tones can be played. This too adds to the difficulty of the instrument. Mine has a very impressive range, as listed per "octave" switch. Low: D1-E3, Mid: C3-E5, High: F5-G7. The switch that governs range does not simply change the octave cleanly, as you can see.
The fingerboard/touchpad becomes more responsive and less rigid in pitch changes with more use, especially slow, connected glissandos along the neck. A very natural and expressive vibrato is possible with a bit of practice.
The instrument's true charm comes from its ability to lightly emulate the wah-wah effect produced by brass' mutes and guitarists' pedals. Not only is this interesting to listen to, but it is what makes the instrument so incredibly cute and funny! There is no way to overstate how cute this thing is. Dynamically, there is only a switch to control the volume, but the Otamatone's embouchure also governs volume quite noticeably.
My brother has the blue one, and there seems to be a slight difference in the details of range and neck feel. Nothing deal-breaking for me though.
I don't think I would ever seriously use the Otamatone in a live setting (unless I was playing something really strange or covering something as a gag), and it is a little bit pricey. However, it is addictingly fun to play to karaoke tracks and entertain friends. I actually plan on using it as a serious ear-training tool in private lessons, too because of the precision needed to play it correctly.
TL;DR- Very cute, hilarious beyond words, addictingly fun, but generally impractical as a serious musical instrument. Totally worth it, and do not regret buying.