Yamaha WX7 Wind Controller: An Introduction

by Shauna Gregus.

The Yamaha WX7 is an electronic, wind-controlled instrument. It can also be referred to as a wind synth. Wind controllers are most commonly played and fingered like an acoustic woodwind instrument. These controllers do not create sound on their own. They are hooked up to some kind of sound generating device. Any program that reads MIDI data will respond to a wind controller, such as Ableton Live, Max or Logic. Through these programs you can choose to make a wind controller sound like anything you’d like. You can play it as a real wind instrument or play sound effects and synthesized sounds instead. With these options, a musician can explore musical realms that are unavailable with a standard acoustic instrument.

Controls

Regardless of a musician’s skill level, the Yamaha WX7 provides simplicity that anyone can grasp. This wind controller can be configured to be fingered like a number of different acoustic instruments. You can also adjust the height of the playing keys and the octave and/or key the instrument will play in, so customization is easy. It also gives you the option to control, breath gain, breath zero, lip gain, breath curve, switchable after-touch and master volume control.

Playing the instrument

Once the WX7 is hooked up to a MIDI sequencer, it can be played in any way. Most programs, like Logic, have a wide range of different sounds that can be controlled via the WX7. As previously stated, you can choose to play the wind controller as if it were indeed an acoustic instrument, or you can choose to play synthesized sounds that may not take into account pitch at all. There are octave keys on the back, upper side of the instrument, so the range is quite similar to an acoustic model. Some sounds can be easily controlled via the breath and pressure sensors on the mouthpiece that mimic the playing of a real instrument. Some merely need the “activation” of the note being played, and their duration and amplitude vary according to the pre-recorded sounds that are activated. This gives the user endless possibilities for sound production.

Reasons to use a wind controller

There are various reasons one might choose to play a wind controller over an acoustic instrument. One reason is that the electronic instruments give a musician more control over their sounds. The quality of sound can be chosen by the click of a button, and it allows the option to provide the accompaniment of a different instrument without having to actually learn how to play it. Its versatility saves musicians years of practice. It is easier to play than a traditional wind instrument. It can be played and practiced in virtual silence as the user can merely plug in headphones and become the only one to hear the sound produced. Wind controllers are easier to learn on than an acoustic wind instrument as the playing and breathing techniques aren’t as sensitive. Because of this, children can more easily learn the skills required to play a wind instrument, and enjoy the added benefit of being able to create virtually any sound. All in all, the electronic wind controlled device allows great customization and flexibility that appeals to many musicians.

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