We live in an awesome age. We have little 4 inch devices that are more powerful than computers that were made less than 8 years ago. Now, there is this very interesting instrument, an Artiphon.
CNN had an article on it:
Is it a guitar? Is it a piano? Nope, it is a crazy iPhone-powered combination of both. Plus it has a built in bass, violin and drum machine to boot. The Artiphon Instrument 1 looks something like a medieval lute, but with a smart phone jammed into its belly.
In 2008 the Margaret Guthman Musical Instrument Competition was established to showcase and recognize the invention of new musical instruments. Commenting on the Artiphon Instrument 1, Gil Weinberg, organizer of the competition and director of the Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology, said: “In general, I’m a big believer in using the capabilities of smart phones to power novel hardware. The ‘brain’ of such devices is already in your pocket, so why not use it?
Which got me to thinking….is it possible to take what I think is a severally crippled Akai USB EWI, and use an iPhone as the synth/controller? Hmmm…..
If you use an EWI 4000S and HATE the seemly abandoned Vyzex editor for it? Fear NOT fellow EWI players, Joseph Sheedy has come to the rescue. He has successfully compiled and released a build of the EWITool for OS X. And it works….though it is a little wonky. The interface is a little weird, and the Set Library doesn’t seem to work. The EWI Patch Set does work, which is cool. It is a community group where you can share patches you make. There are actually some nice ones there.
So, go check out EWITool. And grab the Mac version.
Somewhere, I lost the middle piece in the picture. The clip in part where you put the batteries into. I’ve contacted Akai once or twice, and they will send the clip in part, but not the metal connector part. Seems like that is a separate part that screws into it.
Anyone have any ideas on how to get the WHOLE part so I can use the batteries again in my EWI?
The Woodwind and the Brasswind has a little subsection on their site that they call “What The Pros Play”. And they have an article with multi-instrumentalist Jeff Kashiwa (of the Rippingtons). It starts with what he plays on and subsequent links to those instruments on the wwbw.com site. Towards the end, there are some fabulous insights on his EWI setup.
His EWI is no exception. Jeff used to travel with the EWI 4000s, wireless audio and midi, with a laptop and interface. Today Jeff uses the Akai 4000s with Patchman sounds, and has moved to an iPhone 4s set up attached to the side of the EWI with velcro.
He is using custom Logic EXS24 Multisamples which have been converted to Garageband for the iPhone app. Garageband is also generating the stereo delay and reverb. The internal audio and sampler outputs are routed with an iRig adapter in and out of the iPhone 4s with an inexpensive Radio Shack 1/8″ stereo headphone extension cable is used as the main output to the house sound system. He is stuck to a cable and not able to roam around on EWI thru the audience, BUT, how cool is that?? The entire system he once drug around on the road is pretty much just an iPhone now. I was impressed.
If you haven’t used iRig (or similar adapter) and Garageband with your EWI, you are missing out. For about $50 you can add a whole world of guitar amps and effects to your EWI. I am not sure why he’d have Logic samples in it though, as the iRig is purely an audio thing, and samples I would think would be controlled via Midi. That is not to say that he couldn’t also have one of the many Midi things available for iOS, like the iRig MIDI and a small little midi cable to the iPhone. Also, why he doesn’t pipe the sounds out of his iPhone into a wireless? Seems like you should be able to do it.
Anyhow, it’s an interesting little tidbit.
The Vyzex Editor for the EWI4000s seems to be pretty much dead. Ok, well, the program seems to work alright, but that is about it. It has not had any changes in about 5 years. In the computer world, that is pretty much dead. So what alternatives are there? There is EWItool.
“EWItool is an open source controller for the popular Akai EWI4000s wind synthesizer. EWItool includes a fully graphical sound (patch) editor and patch library management. From version 0.4 onwards there is access to an online patch repository for sharing patches with others.”
Sadly though, there is not a Macintosh build for this. It does work under Parallels though. Is it worth looking into? Totally. There is also an integrated EWI Patch Exchange which is pretty darn cool. And you can submit your patches there too. Awesome.
The project seemed to be dead for a while as it was nearing almost 4 years of no updates, but lo and behold, in September of 2012 there was a pretty substantial update. Still no Macintosh version. Hopefully that will change soon.