If you had asked me on Christmas, 2019, how 2020 was going to go, I would be off by 180 degrees. I would have said I was looking forward to shedding with a Yacht rock group, and looking forward to playing weekly gigs starting around March. We had a good fall of 2019, and gathered a lot of interest, and had already booked some venues well out into September of 2020. I would have said I was looking forward to maybe picking up a few more students (15 at the end of 2019, which was enough with other things I was doing) to get about 20. Basically, global pandemic was not on the list of things for 2020.
Yet here we are. End of 2020. Finally. So, what DID I do in 2020?
I did learn a little bass. I bought a Roland Handsonic to learn how to play some more percussion. I bought a harmonica, and learned a little bit of how to play that. Worked on my pedal board. Practiced. Mostly though, I was one of the very fortunate ones to keep my employment during the pandemic. My “day job” is education, and we got paid through the pandemic. We worked through the pandemic. I got to learn lots of Google stuff (and got several certifications as well, Educator Level 1 & 2, and Administration). I help architect moving one campus to Canvas. I even dusted off the programming skills and wrote a program (script) that pulls enrollments from a state mandated system into our canvas. Evidentially no other school in the state of California has this, nor had it ever been written. Props to me and the hours figuring it out.
I also discovered a WEALTH of YouTube channels. Some saxophone related, some general music related. No real order to these (sorta alphabetical)
Continued refinement has lead to Pedalboard 5.0. Lets recap a little first…
Pedalboard 1.0 attempted to address this by using the Eventide MixingLink. However, I could never get the volumes of the two inputs to be close to the same. Generally, the sax mic was a lot louder than the EWI. Even with the MXR MicroAmp on it, it was sort of hit and miss.
Pedalboard 2.0 didn’t really fix the problem of the EWI, and introduced a POG, and a Pageturner.
Pedalboard 3 ushered in a smaller board, and me giving up on trying to get the EWI on the effects chain. Pedalboard 3.1 had some changes. I dumped the POG, added a reverb, and made an Arduino page turner. The EWI was still not included.
Pedalboard 4.0 had a great concept, but it had a number of issues that were not working. First, I had everything going through the HX Stomp. Which, was a pain. Say I JUST wanted to use the Eventide for Q-Tron or harmony…..I would have to go to a bypass patch that allowed the effects to “flow” to the Eventide, and then back through the HX Stomp.
Which brings us to Pedalboard 5.0.
Abandoning the “everything goes through” the HX Stomp, I have everything going through a One Control Black Loop 2-Loop switcher pedal. This little guy easily lets you decide where to send your sound. To the Eventide? To the HX Stomp? Both at the same time? Done. So you could have harmonies done by the Eventide, but still have another set of something happening on the Stomp.
Now, the one issue that remains is some sort of midi sending of commands to both the Eventide and the HX Stomp. The bluetooth midi dongle I have, a discontinued Quicco Sound mi.1, works well if you have one. But having two…..it doesn’t work so well. I’m thinking about getting a Xvive MD1, but it sticks out a lot……so, I would have to do some rearranging.
But, that is the current rig as of now. Probably another revision in a month or two…..depending on how the pandemic goes….
Legend Tom Scott has a YouTube channel, and it’s criminally under viewed. It’s a great channel with Tom telling stories like how he was in the Blues Brothers band, or playing a great little rendition of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (where he does a little bit on the new Roland Aerophone AE30).
I hope Tom keeps posting videos and adding subscribers. He still has one of the most distinctive sax sounds out there. I absolutely love his tenor sound from the 70s. I remember in high school trying to master the “Dirty Old Man” solo on a jazz band arrangement by him. Such a great song. FYI, he also wrote and performed the great Starsky & Hutch Theme. And he was one of the early EWI pioneers utilizing the Lyricon in sooo many of his albums (this was before Michael Brecker got into the EWI).
Retailing for a whopping $1500, it does have a lot of things going for it. It seems to really embrace the synth part more than it’s previous models, or anything Yamaha or Akai is offering up. Sure, there is a lot of cheezy “sax sounds”, and other sampled sounds, but their is also a “zen core synthesis system” which Roland uses in the Phantom and Jupiter X synth lines. This is very cool. And easily puts it way past other EWIs on the market. You’d have to somehow obtain an Akai EWI4000s (which Akai discontinued) to get a synth engine, and it’s not even in the league of the Roland’s. Plus it has Bluetooth MIDI on it. And can be configured from an editor app on your tablet.
Basically, THIS IS THE WIND CONTROLLER you should get. It has the best of everything on it. Sampled sounds, and a synth engine so you can do………pretty much anything.
The ONLY….complaints are the price $1499 is really steep (and it’s mostly plastic…..and at least one reviewer didn’t like the plastic mouthpiece), the insistence of having a built in speaker (why?……I can see this for the “non pro” ones….but the pro? How about losing that and adding a better mouthpiece (ebonite maybe?) or maybe wireless audio from it?) and that these seems to be a lot of key noise. Like cheap sounding key noise.
Would I get this? YES. This is the direction wind controllers/Electronic Wind Instruments should be going. A powerful engine where you can do sampled sounds, but you can also create new sounds. And it’s not looking like some sort of franken-sax. It’s worth the investment. Get something good. Get this.
Kandinsky never heard Coltrane, but if he had, and had access to 3D rendering software, he might have made something very much like the short animation above from Israeli artist Michal Levy. “Roughly 3 per cent of people experience synaesthesia,” writes Aeon, “a neurological condition in which people have a recurring sensory overlap, such as … envisioning letters and numbers each with their own inherent colour.”