Details: The Otamatone is an electronic musical synthesizer. It was developed in Japan in 1998 by the CUBE toy company and the Maywa Denki design firm. The Otamatone is a singing toy whose body is shaped like an eighth note (it also somewhat resembles a tadpole, “otamajakushi” being Japanese for “tadpole”), with sound emerging from a “mouth” on the notehead. It requires two hands to play: while one hand holds and squeezes the “head”, the other hand controls the pitch of the tune by placing the finger on a ribbon controller on the stem; a higher position on the stem creates a lower sound. The ribbon controller is deliberately delinearized to resemble a guitar, so there is a shorter distance between higher notes than between lower ones. Varying the pressure on the head (thereby opening and closing the “mouth” of the Otamatone) creates a wah-wah effect, and shaking the neck (and thereby slightly changing pressure on the head) creates a vibrato effect. Switches on the back of the head allow users to change octave, turn it off or on, or change the volume. The sound made by this toy can be compared to the sound of a theremin, synthesizer, or jinghu.
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