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EWI USB style

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
But, the real killer is the sensitivity of the keywork. Every musical instrument that I've run across prior to the EWIs is much more "analog" in its response - putting a finger onto a key doesn't instantaneous kick things up one or two octaves. In effect, the sensitivity appears to have been set by people used to electronics, but not to traditional musical instruments.
SOTSDO is quoted because he speaks truth.

The interesting thing is that the current Yamaha WX5 isn't a 1st gen device. The WX7 and 11 came before it. There are only three "professional-grade" wind controllers still available: offerings from Yamaha, Akai, and Softwinds. And the Synthophone is prohibitively expensive -- it is built into a sax, after all (starts at a shade under $4000). Something that might be interesting would be a Lyricon II, because it (supposedly; might be "can be converted to have") has MIDI out -- i.e. you could connect it to a modern tone generator -- and a real bass clarinet mouthpiece. It's still expensive, though ($1300+), and it's the template for the Yamaha WX series. It's metal, though. You might be able to do some tweaking on the action.

UPDATE: Did some searching. It would be a CV (control voltage) to MIDI converter for the Lyricon. There are lots out there. One price I saw was $359.
 

SOTSDO

Old King Log
Staff member
CE/Moderator
One thing that I forgot to mention above is just about as critical as the tone of the synthesizer used with the EWI.

The "ergonomics" of the EWIs that I have held (and that includes all of them, even the old Casio DH-100), include one other very significant problem: the physical dimensions and thumb rest arrangement.

Holding a clarinet or oboe isn't the easiest thing to do – they're heavy little cylinders with precious little support to them. But, they pale compared to an EWI. The thumb rests aren't just small; they're positively uncomfortable.

And the pared away body of the EWI allows for precious little purchase for the rest of your thumb against the "horn". In this regard, the EWI is as bad as that other instrument of torture, the Boehm flute.

(Flute players, especially the female ones with the long hair that they toss about as they over-express themselves when playing a solo during symphonic work, should know that Boehm's plan for his revolutionary instrument originally included a rest held in the crotch of the right hand. Somehow, this got left out over the years, leaving the flute as a slippery cylinder that I have extreme trouble keeping on the tip of my thumb. The Bo Peep body clips (about twenty bux, this for two of them) help a lot; without them, I just cannot hold a Boehm flute in my sweaty, greasy mitts.)

I own a beautiful old Conn alto from the turn of the the previous century, with the most wicked thumb hook you can imagine. It was the one thing I forgot to have corrected when I had it rebuilt, and am I ever sorry that I missed it, for it makes the horn pure torture to play, the only flaw left in the thing.

As uncomfortable as the old alto is, it is heaven on earth on my right thumb compared to the provisions for the thumb with the EWIs that I have spent significant time with. To begin with, the thumb "rests" are little more than polygonal, sharp edged pieces of metal or plastic protruding from the body of the "instrument". Second, two of the three styles with which I have considerable playing experience did not have sufficient protrusion to lay comfortably across my thumb; in particular, the one on the Yamaha EWIs (both models) was as bad as the one on the cheap DH-100, which in turn was little more than a toy.

Finally, on the "professional" versions, the body of the instrument did not offer sufficient bearing surface to work with the thumb and the thumb rest to keep the instrument from turning in the hand. The balance achieved with the horn was so precarious that it would twist enough to have the right thumb come in contact with one of the weird button keys on the back, which often throws me off into another patch on the synth (like the cute "thunder and lightning" one). This happens with or without a neck strap, and it's worse when your hands are slightly sweaty after a set or two.

I can speak from experience when I tell you that there's no effect more charming in the middle of the extended baritone solo in the Count Basie version of Misty than to shift from sounding (sort of) like a baritone saxophone to a very melodic summer thunderstorm, particularly during the five bars towards the end when you ascend to the high register.

I don't know what the audience thought, but I know what I was thinking.

(I am given to understand than you can reprogram much of the button layout on a Yamaha stick so as to reassign functions to buttons, or even to completely disable buttons if you so choose. Unfortunately, the manual is written in "Japlish", the English as written by a person who has Japanese as their first language, and it's not the most amiable of reference works. Also, I'm reluctant to mess with the owner's settings, although one we changed the first day was the "lipping" function of the reed plate. But, that was just due to my flabby embouchure and a desire not to complicate things any more than necessary.)

NOTA BENE:

Although many of the patches on the synthesizer are of little or no use, I have always liked the "orchestra hit" one. I like playing the figure that they use at professional sporting events, played on the keys, that is a short series of notes followed by the emphatic "Hey!" yelled by the crowd.
 
(...) Something that might be interesting would be a Lyricon II, because it (supposedly; might be "can be converted to have") has MIDI out -- i.e. you could connect it to a modern tone generator -- and a real bass clarinet mouthpiece. It's still expensive, though ($1300+), and it's the template for the Yamaha WX series. It's metal, though. You might be able to do some tweaking on the action.

UPDATE: Did some searching. It would be a CV (control voltage) to MIDI converter for the Lyricon. There are lots out there. One price I saw was $359.
Great idea to revive this forgotten beast. It indeed had a standard mouthpiece (0:19)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0xwku3Bitc

and could cook too. See this sample, again with Tom Scott, one of the few great players who tried it extensively; interestingly, he plays a "real" tenor and switch to the (analog) Lyricon at 3:40. In any case, great music from the 80's.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJQhgpR6dJ4

J
 
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