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Re: MIDI wind controllers

mwsmart@insightbb.com wrote:
> Yeah, interesting thread. I use an old WX7. I like the fact that it has 
> moving keys on it. As someone who played sax before, that feels more 
> familiar. I tried an older EWI with the touch switches and it felt 
> REALLY WEIRD to me. But maybe you can get used to it. People who use the 
> EWI say that once you get used to the weird keys, it's possible to play 
> faster than on a controller (or a real horn!) with moving keys.

It's possible, I guess. I have both, and I never noticed a difference. 
The WX's keys are so light, and their throw is so short, that I don't 
think they slow you down.

> Regarding the CC7 (volume) and CC2 (breath) messages: in MIDI there is 
> no difference between these other than the ID number of the controller. 
> But IIRC (don't have the WX7 handy), you can either have it send just 
> CC2 or BOTH CC2 and CC7 (depending on a DIP switch setting). When it's 
> sending two messages every time, it might be slower. But CC2 by itself 
> is going to be the same speed as CC7 by itself.

Sure. But it's nice to have the flexibility. Back in the bad old days, 
some hardware synths didn't respond to CC2 at all, so it's good to have 
other options.

> For creating synth patches, I highly recommend setting the patch up so 
> that the breath pressure increases the cutoff of the filter and the 
> amplitude of the sound at the same time. This makes a HUGE difference in 
> giving it a more organic sound and adding to the expressiveness. 

This is almost mandatory. Even if you're not aiming for an emulation, it 
gives an organic quality, as you say, even if the patch is some kind of 
Absynth soundscape.

> All the 
> pseudo-horn sounds I do with the WX7 and Continuum are just analog-style 
> waves with a breath-sensitive filter and amplitude like that. Some of 
> them also have more static filters in line afterwards to try to sound 
> like the body of a sax or brass mutes. Most of this stuff should be 
> possible with the EWI. I dunno if the patches that come with it are any 
> good. That is always a crap shoot!

The factory patches aren't wonderful, and I don't use them much. I 
haven't even done much programming for the internal synth, since the 
Nord and various softsynths are so much more interesting. I guess if 
keeping my rig tiny was really important I'd give it another try.

> Anyway, here are some of my suggestions for programming wind sounds:
> http://www.marksmart.net/sounddesign/windsounds/windsounds.html

It's cool that you reference a paper by Art Benade here. He was a 
professor where I did my doctorate, and a genuinely good guy with a 
warped sense of humor. One of his grad students did a thesis on woodwind 
tone-hole acoustics, and had the world's weirdest soprano sax, built 
from scraps of stuff found around the lab.