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Electronic Wind Instruments — EWIs
see our related question on using computers for accompaniment by clicking here
Q.  Hi, I’m an experienced saxophone player (tenor and soprano). I have never played an EWI, and would like to get into it. Can you please recommend a good set-up of EWI and MIDI sound source (preferably keyboard based) that pair up well. Thanks, Yariv …


A. One of e great things about EWIs and MIDI is that MIDI is universal. Any EWI with MIDI OUT can be played through any MIDI tone generator (keyboard, module, computer sound card) that has a MIDI IN or MIDI THRU connection. I can’t recommend a keyboard cuz there are just too many good ones out there. Both Roland and Yamaha make a variety of tone modules, many of which can be bought used at bargain prices. As far as the EWI itself, even the simple & inexpensive ones like the Casio Digital Horn can make all the music you want. Both Akai and Yamaha have fine offerings in the more advanced models, and the prices have come down dramatically on them recently. The Yamaha WX5 is a very nice machine that is priced about $500. The WX7 and WX11 Yamahas often show up used on eBay, and you don’t lose a lot from the WX5 in playing these older Yamaha EWIs. My advice is to search the web for dealers that have EWIs for sale. If you go into www.ask.com and put in EWI, or even WX5, I’m sure you will get a ton of hits to check out. Best of luck with your EWI adventure. It’s a gas …
Additional Comments
The following information is from a CyberSax front page feature in December, 2001


 



The Amazing CyberSaxes
(pictured are Yamaha WX5 Wind MIDI Controller & Casio DH-100 Digital Horn)

Also known as Electronic Wind Instruments, or simply EWI (pronounced as the bird or kiwi fruit without the k sound), these amazing instruments have a dramatic range of capabilities designed to enhance a woodwind player’s performance capabilities. Most EWIs have several different sets of fingerings programmed for the player’s convenience, such that anyone familiar with any one of several different woodwind fingering patterns can pick one up & immediately play. Common fingering patterns are saxophone, flute & recorder, with the very top end instruments, like the Yamaha WX5 (pictured above), even capable of popular alternate sax fingerings for creative effect. There are at least two differing types of breath control, but they all have the ability to taper volumes or bend pitch much like we sax players are already accustomed to doing to add emotion and drama to our performances. A few, like the Casio Digital Horn (pictured above), can create several different realistic instrument sounds from their own internal speaker and patch equipment. Others must be fed through an amplified MIDI sound source in order to be heard. They all have the ability to output sound through another device with MIDI capability, and therein lies the true power and flexibility of these miraculous machines. EWIs will control MIDI signals into synthesizers, keyboards, sound modules and even computer sound cards. Most modern sound cards have the ability to accept MIDI-IN signals through either a game or serial port connected via an inexpensive adapter & cable. If you don’t play keyboard instruments as well as you’d like, you can use your EWI to input to a MIDI sequencer for your composition and arranging projects (Ahhh, free, at last!). With popular programs such as Band-in-a-Box you can quickly generate arrangements that you can then highly stylize for practice accompaniment — and for the very adventurous, even to accompany your live performances. Of course a notebook computer helps if you plan to play around outside the home or studio, but even cheap older notebooks of only about 150 mhz perform MIDI-based routines quite admirably. Now that BIAB has a good audio module you can record other performed sax parts, too, so that you are playing several instruments at once in your arrangements. The possibilities are breathtaking. Today, the numbers of these instruments in the aftermarket have reduced the used prices down to that of a decent used alto, so there is no excuse not to acquire one to help expand the reaches of your composing, arranging and performing capabilities. You will find many good sources for information about EWIs on the web. If your favorite search engine (www.ask.com is great!) does not prove useful in your research, then by all means, please write to us. As our many clients and friends already know, we are always pleased to help expand your saxual horizons …




My Casio DH-100 Squeals Like A Little Piggy …
Q.  I have a DH 100 I have had for quite a few years. A couple of years ago it bit the dust. All I get is a squeek. I have called Casio to no avail. I even took my horn to a reprutable music store and had their top electrical tech try to fix it. He said they could not fix it but I still had to pay a price to get it back. They even told me they tried to call Casio. Can you give me advice as to what to whether it can be repaired or what it would cost for a new one. Thank you soooooo much. Betty …


A. That’s a common problem with the Casio Digital Horn. Fortunately, I know a gentleman down in Louisiana named Ted Keys who fixes them. Here is a link to his web site: http://www.tedkeys.com/. Best of luck with the repair. Tell Ted we sent you. Please let us know how it turns out …



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