Modified EWI

Got an old EWI? Yes? Then check this out:

“The META-EWI is a modified EWI (Akai’s Electric Wind Instrument) to which was added a whole new set of controllers based on sensor technologies, specifically eight continuous controllers and 16 digital switches. These clearly succeed at stretching the expressiveness and the range of musical gestures found on the original instrument allowing the musician to have a more complete and far reaching control of a great variety of meaningful musical parameters.”

Double Slide Controller…..why?

“Developed by composer and researcher Tomás Henriques, the instrument mixes computer music software, sensor technologies and flexible hand/arm gestures to generate rich, complex sounds.” My question is why? So we can do more Zen type music? Why do all these “demos” of new controllers and stuff always have like an atmosphere drone? I would have been impressed if this guy busted out some changes and played a chorus or two of “Autumn Leaves” or something. But no, we get F-ing drone Zen music. Another Eigenharp type device. Whoohoo!

iPad Sheet Music Page Changer

From Engadget:
“If you carry your sheet music in a laptop, AirTurn’s got a USB dongle for that, but if you’ve migrated your musical cues to an certain slate, never fear, Bluetooth is on the way. The AirTurn BT-105 will bring the company’s page turning technology to iPad, using a transmitter that attaches to standard professional footswitches, allowing you to turn full pages and half pages of sheet music while keeping hands firmly affixed to your instrument. Though there’s no word on price, we imagine it’ll cost close to the existing 2.4GHz version, which runs from $40 for a dongle to $100 for a package with two Boss pedals, and when it surfaces in Q4 of this year, we’re hoping it will extend bicycling input to all the other wild and crazy apps you dream up. PR and video after the break. “

Opens up a LOT of doors. For what it is worth, I have put a lot of stuff I practice on to my iPad, and it works great.

Band-in-a-Box 2010.5 – Mac

PGMusic just released Band In A Box 2010.5 for the Mac. Improvements? Yes, several. Here are a few that I think are noteworthy:

  • Styles can now be made that are set to use Half-Time and Double-Time RealTracks. For example, you can make a Jazz Ballad style (tempo 65) that uses a Sax Soloist at tempo 140 (playing double time).
  • For RealTracks, many Jazz comping styles now play triads (instead of 7ths) when simple triads are entered, instead of “jazzing them up” to 7ths chords (e.g. Guitar: Freddie, Wes Piano: Some Jazz. All Stride, Rehearsal). If you prefer this “the old way”, where triads are automatically “jazzed up” when comping using Jazz RealTracks, then you can set the Prefs-Realtracks settings option to force 7ths for triads.

Plus, you get a bunch more RealTracks. One of the Paks comes with some B3, and other has some excellent Jazz Guitar.

Is it worth the money? Yes, I think so. It is a great tool for musicians who want to practice 50 choruses of soloing…..at whatever speed……in whatever style……in whatever key. Or perhaps you’ve like to figure out some chords for a song you were working on? Done. BinaB can help you there. Or maybe figure out what chords were played in a song? Yep, it can help you there too. So many uses for this program…..it should really be a REQUIREMENT for a Musician to own it.

UPDATE: A few of the RealTrack Saxophone tracks are Eric Marienthal. How cool is that???

The Search for Nirvana – A Perfect Mouthpiece!

Dave Liebman has an article up by Tom Alexander (with Dave Liebman) about searching for the perfect mouthpiece. On a cursory reading of this, one might take away that Links are the key to unlock your inner saxophone Budda. However, I think the point of the article is that one should pick something not to open, not too closed, not to dark and not too bright. Akin to Goldilocks and her porridge.

I think they sorta missed the point about “vintage”. Most all those guys were playing on rather new horns in that time period. Coleman Hawkins wasn’t playing on a 1910’s tenor when he was dishing out Body and Soul in 1939? Coltrane’s horn before he died was a Mark VI serial number 125571, dated 1965. Not the horn he used to record Giant Steps (whatever happened to that horn?). Most of these guys had new or new-ish horns. Not “vintage” in their day. Who’s to say that if Yamaha had been making instruments when Coltrane was alive that Coltrane wouldn’t have played one? And mouthpieces…..were there that many choices back then? I mean, nowadays we have hundreds of people and companies making and modifying mouthpieces. Back in the 1960s? I dunno, but I’d be surprised if the number was a two digit number. And earlier…..I’d be surprised if it was more than a couple.

Point is I guess, get something that is good, but not so wide open that you can park a truck in it, and not something so small that you’d have to find the opening with an electron microscope. Stick with it. Learn it. And having a good horn will help (Mark VI optional).