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EWI stands for Electronic Wind Instrument (although it really should stand for Electronic Woodwind Instrument IMHO since the EVI was invented first for Valve instrumentalists -- and both are wind instruments) and was invented in the early 80's by Nyle Steiner. This guy is a god damned genius when it comes to the world of wind controlled synthesizers. For Trumpet players and Saxophone players (like me) the world of musical instrument synthesis has always been somewhat out of reach. Keyboard players have had access to synths since the beginning but the keyboard is very limited in its expressive capabilities when compared with an instrument that can alter dynamics, tone quality, pitch, nuance and a great many other things after the initial attack like a horn or a bowed instrument can. Sure, we're stuck with only one note most of the time but when you blow into the synth you can get a lot more out of the electronics than you can with just some finger pressure.

The EWI manipulates an analog synthesizer through a voltage control (VC) mechanism. The advantage of this over a straight MIDI control is that it is smooth instead of stepped like a digital signal. If you listen carefully, a synth which is controlled through MIDI can be heard to have a zipper sounding effect on midi velocity and pitch bend. This is because the values for the changes are (signed?) 8 bit so you can only hear discreet steps in the changes.

The EWI requires the EWV2000 module as a slave to the controller. This is the synth module and also the brains behind the external MIDI implementation. And through MIDI, the EWI can also play 4-note chords -- a luxury that has never been available to Saxophone players before (or through any other mechanism).

The controller itself has very few moving parts. All of the keys are pieces of metal that don't move so that when you touch them, the capacitance changes and the controller knows exactly what's happened instantaneously. Without the mechanical movement like other wind synths, the only thing slowing you down is c.

The octave rollers are the only moving parts but are also metallic. The fact that they roll allows you to get 8 octaves very easily.

But it's best not to be ridiculously redundant and boring here... You can get a ton of information about this unique and extremely versatile wind controlled synthesizer at http://www.ewi-evi.com.

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