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Wind Controller


synthasizer

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hello,

 

I was reading the most recent keyboard magazine and there was a review of an Akai midi wind controller. My question is do you have to know how to play a woodwind instrument to use one of these. I don't know how to play a woodwind instrument but I like the idea of being able control sax and other woodwind sounds. Any responses are appreciated.

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With a wind controller you control volume and pitch. Yes you do play it like a woodwind, sax I believe. The breath controller (Yamaha BC3) allows you to control amplitude/volume with the controller but you use the keyboard to control pitch, so it is infinitely easier to learn how to use (if you don't play a wind instrument). The breath controller is probably best mated to the Yamaha VL series synths. The only one currently in production is the VL70m. They are a lot of fun and extremely expressive.

 

Busch.

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If you get the new Akai 4000s wind controller, it is played more like a recorder, in terms of no finger pressure for sounding notes, and no embourchre to speak of (I could be wrong on that latter point, but there is no equivalent to a reed, as on the Yamaha WX-series).

 

I plan to get a 4000s as the budget allows, as it is said to be more expressive than the WX5. I can see using both, depending on the sound source and which instrument one is emulating.

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, ES295, PM2, EXL1

XK1c, Voyager, Prophet XL

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Patchman Music has a nice EWI4000S page with video examples:

http://www.patchmanmusic.com/ewi4000s.html

 

As far as EWI4000S vs Yamaha WX, I had wondered how the EWI would be received by sax players, because the EWI indeed does not have a reed sensor, while WX's do. When I got my bamboo sax, using the reed to raise/lower the pitch - by lip pressure - felt natural. I had no previous wind instrument experience - I just relied on the supplied fingering chart to get the notes I wanted. The EWI does have a lip pressure sensor in its mouthpiece, but it's apparently just for vibrato, though you have a choice of "mixing" vibrato data with breath sensor data or pitch bend. Pitch bend on the EWI is done with "bend plates" instead of lip pressure. Despite of the lack of a reed, the EWI seems to have been well received by the wind controller community.

 

Also regarding this comparison, the new EWI has a built-in synth, while the WX's do not. The EWI4000S development team confirmed that control data is at a much higher resolution when you use the EWI to play its internal synth than when playing external MIDI sound sources. Players seem to "feel" this higher resolution. Also, the new EWI can do trumpet fingering, while WXs cannot.

 

Matt Traum's patches for this new EWI sound very nice, based on the audio demo on this same page. I didn't think it was possible to get a good flute sound, with overblown harmonics, with the EWI's built-in analog modeling synth, but he proved me wrong.

 

As far as the VL synths, they are physical modeling synths that are preset for use with WX controllers. Apparently, not too many synths are preset for this type of use. Usually, the wind controller user has to tweak synth patches to respond to MIDI Volume and MIDI Breath Controller CC messages. Some synths do not respond to MIDI Breath Controller CC at all. The new EWI should not have a problem with VLs because it has a MIDI Out and VLs can respond to all MIDI CCs and such from the EWI. There shouldn't be much of a difference between playing a VL from an EWI or WX as both can only talk to VLs via MIDI.

 

Other synths that have gotten good reports from wind controller users include the Dave Smith Evolver line, the Nord Modular/Modular G2 (Chet Singer and others created some amazing physical modeling patches for these), and lots of softsynths.

 

I'll probably get into breath-controlled synthesis by getting a Yamaha BC3. I have a Kurzweill Expressionmate ribbon controller that has a jack for the BC3.

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Hi and welcome to the forum :wave:

 

It sounds to me like your best bet is a Yamaha BC3 breath controller since you have no woodwind playing experience. Of course you just learn to play the Sax or some other woodwind and forget about all these wind controllers :D

Begin the day with a friendly voice A companion, unobtrusive

- Rush

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It's just my opinion, but having used a BC3 for several years, and developing a facility on the footpedal ... I believe that a proficient footpedal (swell-pedal) action comes close to the breath controller in terms of nuance. It cannot compare with the wind controller, where you have tactical connection on multiple dimensions (bite, pressure, etc) . I used to play the french horn ... and my comments about the BC3 are not for lack of trying. There are certainly expressions the BC3 does that you cannot do on the pedal (tonguing) ... but the reverse is also true. My $0.02

 

Jerry

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...There shouldn't be much of a difference between playing a VL from an EWI or WX as both can only talk to VLs via MIDI...

 

Having just bought a WX5 with VL70m I can confirm that the Yamaha combination also can be connected with the supplied WX cable (which claims to be faster than MIDI I believe) but the WX5 also has MIDI out to enable connection to a 'normal' sound generator. Power to the WX5 is also supplied from the VL70m through the WX cable. If your option is to control through MIDI, you'll have to run the WX with batteries or a 9V DC psu.

 

I did my first WX gig with batteries before I got the VL - never again (they failed on me half way through my sax solo)!

Gig rig: Motif XF8,Roland A37~laptop,Prophet 08,Yam WX5~VL70m.

Studio: V-Synth GT,Korg DW8000,A33,Blofeld,N1R,KS Rack,too many VSTs

Freefall www.f-music.co.uk

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You can still take advantage of the phantom power and mobility offered by the WX cable, if you plug into the VL70m and use its MIDI THRU to connect to another module. That saves you batteries, hooking the WX up via MIDI, and/or running an AC wall wart to the WX5.

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, ES295, PM2, EXL1

XK1c, Voyager, Prophet XL

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You should be able to get one for about $90 to $95 new. You can try Keyfax New Media's e-Store (founded by Julian Colbeck, who doubled keyboards for Anderson Wakeman Bruford Howe and remains good friends and an occasional technical consultant for all of the members of Yes past and present). They are also known as the Motifmart (if visited via the Motif user forum) and a few other names when visited from other product-specific forums.

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, ES295, PM2, EXL1

XK1c, Voyager, Prophet XL

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Oops, I forgot to mention that the WX5 comes with a recorder style mouthpiece as well. I never use it so forgot it was there!

 

I spent the entire weekend working with my newly-enhanced VL70m upgraded to the Patchman Music Turbo ROM's, and am blown away (no pun intended)! I am now using this combination as my main sound source for solo horns, winds, and even strings (what an amazing cello!). It takes a lot of practice though, but it's always fun the whole time as one is interacting with a wind controller playing live, vs. editing MIDI.

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, ES295, PM2, EXL1

XK1c, Voyager, Prophet XL

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You can still take advantage of the phantom power and mobility offered by the WX cable, if you plug into the VL70m and use its MIDI THRU to connect to another module. That saves you batteries, hooking the WX up via MIDI, and/or running an AC wall wart to the WX5.

 

Thanks for the tip. When the WX died on me during the gig I didn't have the VL70, just the WX running MIDI into a N1R. (That'll teach me).

Gig rig: Motif XF8,Roland A37~laptop,Prophet 08,Yam WX5~VL70m.

Studio: V-Synth GT,Korg DW8000,A33,Blofeld,N1R,KS Rack,too many VSTs

Freefall www.f-music.co.uk

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I just got the Akai EWI-4000s wind synth... it handles somewhere between a sax & a recorder (neither of which I have much familiarity with) and you don't need much technique to make a decent tone. There are 100 built-in voices + effects so you can (learn to) play it through head-phones wherever you happen to be.

 

I'm working through a few jazz standards in C, G, & F... record the backing chords on the Fantom, then play the heads on the Akai. It's fun and while I'm still making quite a few mistakes, the music is very organic and 'windy'.

 

My wife actually almost complimented me... "Not bad... doesn't sound nearly as crappy as I thought it would".

 

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I stand corrected: you must use the MIDI OUT from the VL70m to go to another module, not the MIDI THRU. You may also need to go into System Setup mode to filter what gets passed along.

 

I did this the other day while trying out my demo of Miroslav Philharmonik with the WX5. That orchestral library is quite impressive and has many voices set up for BC input.

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, ES295, PM2, EXL1

XK1c, Voyager, Prophet XL

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I stand corrected: you must use the MIDI OUT from the VL70m to go to another module, not the MIDI THRU. You may also need to go into System Setup mode to filter what gets passed along.

 

I did this the other day while trying out my demo of Miroslav Philharmonik with the WX5. That orchestral library is quite impressive and has many voices set up for BC input.

 

This is a very cool trick. You shouldn't have to filter much as the only thing coming out the MIDI OUT will be data actually generated within the VL, e.g. breath control, program changes if you switch patches. MIDI from the controller keyboard will go out the THRU.

 

If you're going to a module downstream from the VL, you'll need to merge the MIDI from the controller and the VL OUT.

 

Busch.

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I see that Jim Stang posted a similar comment on Motiforum's PLG board today. I still get infinite loop if I try to login to Motiforum, ever since they switched servers, and there are all sorts of questions people have posed that I'm actually confident (for once) that I have useful answers for. Oh well.

 

I did find the Turbo ROM more expressive for monophonic voices than Miroslav, although I would have loved to have tried ensemble voices with a BC3a (I sold mine a few years back, not thinking far enough ahead that it would be useful for well-programmed ensemble voices, even though I am more competent on WX5 for solo voices).

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, ES295, PM2, EXL1

XK1c, Voyager, Prophet XL

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Just checking in after 2 weeks with the EWI... doing a couple of hours a day, mostly major scales (up to 5 sharps, 4 flats) starting on chromatic scale... also starting to improvise blues & solo over standards in easy keys... total newb stuff, but it is making me aware of all the things I take for granted on piano (and a few limitations, yesterday I practiced in a bird sanctuary).

 

The coolest thing about this experience has been the influence on my piano playing. On the EWI, I have to simplify my ideas in order to even get close to being able to execute. No intricate comping or dazzling runs/arpeggios... just a melody.

 

When I get back on the keys where everything is intuitive, I find myself listening to my playing with new ears. Clever licks and comping is not cutting it unless there is a melodic statement. Anyways, I figure I'll drop a note once in a while into this thread occasionally over the next few months.

 

Honkin' in Vancouver...

 

 

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  • 3 months later...

... it's been nearly six months on the EWI now and still having fun.

 

http://www.musik-schmidt.de/osc-schmidt/catalog/images/Akai_EWI4000_S_2.jpg

 

I'm still putting in a 5-10 hours a week on the horn and splitting time between scales/technique and free improvisation (and another 10 hours on keys).

 

I picked up a battery-powered amp (VOX DA5) which adds a lot of colors and effects to the EWI tones. Auto-wah + a bit of distortion produces a pretty cool slap bass... which definitely freaks people out.

 

My horn technique is not great... I probably started about 40 years too late, but I run all the scales and arpeggios and feel pretty comfortable improvising in all keys. It's interesting how the easy/hard areas of fingering the horn shape your playing. The EWI keyboard only reaches an octave + a few notes, so each key has an octave switch somewhere around C (falling on a different scale tone). In any event, when I improvise on the horn, I naturally avoid the ugly places and hard intervals... as a result, improvising in each key picks up a slightly different flavor.

 

Expression, articulation, portamento, and note bending are starting to fall into place. I love the fact that you *can't* do anything but focus on shaping a melodic line... no chords, no comping.

 

I go to a lot of jams, and these days I usually just pack the horn and the VOX on my Vespa and leave the keyboards and big amps at home.

 

If anybody is thinking of learning a wind instrument, but doesn't want to spend years learning embouchure, the EWI is definitely a cool route to go (but good luck finding a teacher).

 

Still honkin' in Vancouver... but sucking 22% less.

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  • 2 weeks later...

http://www.davealpert.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2006/06/buttcrack.jpg

 

[font:Comic Sans MS]WIND CONTROLLER[/font]

 

I apologize for that. :rolleyes::cool:

 

 

 

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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