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Bob Mintzer's EWI Adventure: Yellowjackets LIve in Jacksonville, 1993

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Uploaded on Oct 8, 2011

EWI (an acronym for electronic wind instrument) is the name of AKAI's wind controller, an electronic musical instrument invented by Nyle Steiner. The early models consisted of two parts: a wind controller and a synthesizer. The current model, EWI4000S, combines the two parts into one, placing the synthesizer in the lower section of the controller. It uses the Boehm fingering system and is designed to be similar in action to a soprano saxophone, although players familiar with the clarinet should have no problem adjusting to the fingering; the EWI instruments can also be played with a simpler fingering system that recorder players can play with very little adjustment. Modern instruments also can be switched to flute, oboe and even brass instruments fingering modes.[1] Like a soprano sax, it is straight, and is held in front of the body with a neck strap. The major manufacturers of wind controllers are Akai and Yamaha. Available models include the AKAI EWI3020, AKAI EWI4000s, AKAI EWI USB, Yamaha WX5, Yamaha WX11, Yamaha WX7, and Synthophone. There is also a controller intended to be played by brass instrumentalists called an EVI (for Electronic Valve Instrument) also invented by Nyle Steiner. The Akai EWI4000S has a special EVI mode that allows brass players to play the EWI. More info on the EVI fingering system. There are also homemade and experimental EWIs with different designs.
The wind controller part of the EWI has a mouthpiece with sensors for air pressure (volume control) and lip pressure (vibrato). The EWI keys do not move, but work through conductivity, sensing the positioning of the fingers by electrical current; this allows for very fast playing. The octave is determined by a set of rollers operated by the left thumb. The wind controller is used to control a synthesizer. Some EWIs have to be attached to a specific synth module, and some have direct output to the MIDI interface. It is also possible to connect the EWI to a Digital Work Station (soundboard) to produce an even larger variety of sounds.
Though it is usually associated with jazz/rock fusion and, more recently, with New Age music, the EWI is a musically versatile instrument. The air pressure sensor allows for great dynamic range, especially in combination with an analog synthesizer. Tonal range is also great, usually extending to 8 octaves.

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