Akai's EWI 4000s is a wind MIDI controller, with a built-in synthesizer for direct audio output.
Translation: it's the wind player's equivalent of an electronic keyboard – and it's amazing how much fun it is to play. There's something addictive about an instrument that's always in tune, has a seven-octave range, can transpose into any key, always has consistent fingering patterns, and can change its sound completely at the touch of a button. :-)
The EWI 4000s is part of a family, which also includes
These days I'm playing my EWI 4000s with a local (to Montreal) trumpet quartet called Cornetti Con Brio (which doesn't have a web site, or I'd link to it here), and the EWI blends in well enough with three real trumpets that most people can't hear the difference. Of course, when called for it can also be a cornet, flugelhorn, trombone or tuba (to name a few instruments I've actually used with this group).
...but my favourite EWI story so far is the time I provided the live music for a Christmas party at a nearby hospital, and while I was playing a woman came up and stared at the EWI and my bank of synthesizers. Clearly she was curious about it, but I was busy and couldn't talk to her at the time. After the party was over I invited her to take a closer look at my rig and ask questions, and she told me why she'd been so interested: she knew what a clarinet sounds like – because her daughter plays one – and she clearly heard a clarinet being played, but couldn't see it. :-)
For everything you ever wanted to know about wind controllers in general, the excellent Patchman Wind Controller FAQ is the best place to start – among other things, it explains the differences between the three EWI models.
For details on the EWI 4000s in particular, Bob van der Poel has assembled a great collection of resources.
The EWI 5000 and 4000s each have a built-in synthesizer, so one of their best features is that they're self-contained: If you're rehearsing or playing for your own enjoyment, all you really need is a pair of headphones. To play for an audience, just add an audio cable and an amplifier or powered speaker.
...but it's certainly possible to use additional synthesizers and other gear. For example, professional wind synth player and programmer Matt Traum describes his gig rig and how it's evolved over time.
My own rig is
less extensive, but I'm happy with it. ...though that won't stop
me from looking for new
toys equipment to add
in future. :-)
This isn't exclusive to the EWI, but since December 2012 I've been using an Android app to display my sheet music everywhere I play.
Here are some resources for music-related programming.
[ SMW, March 2016 ]