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A member recently asked me which EWI I would recommend.
What is an EWI?
EWI stands for Electronic Wind Instrument. These digital instruments don’t produce any sound out in the real world, but can be used with headphones or used to send a signal to a sound system and then mixed with other sounds via a mixer. You can also connect your EWI directly to a computer via MIDI and use your system as a sound module.
There are many advantages to EWI’s including:
I have an Akai 4000s and have used it for many years. This version has 100 onboard sounds, so you don’t have to connect to change between a sax and an oboe. It runs on 4 AA batteries, and I use rechargeable ones and find they last for 5 - 7 hours. I plug it into my mixer via a ¼” mono cable. I also run it through a reverb, though the EWI has a built-in reverb.
Alistair Parnell has the best EWI lessons on YouTube. He covers everything from setup to tricks and tips that will help you get the most out of your EWI.
Another fantastic resource for all things EWI is the Patchman site. https://www.patchmanmusic.com/ in the Wind Controller Forum https://www.patchmanmusic.com/forum/, you can talk with other EWI users and find even more resources.
Three main kinds of Akai EWI
The Fire Stick
“Storm Cursed” by Patricia Briggs is the 11th book in the Mercy Thompson series. http://patriciabriggs.com/books/
I read a couple of books a week, mostly hard Sci-fi but sometimes fantasy. The Mercy Thompson series is a quick and delightful read. Very basically, Mercy is a shapeshifting Coyote who has close ties to a werewolf pack and is also friends with a Vampire and a Gremlin. In her spare time from her car mechanic business, she saves the world from supernatural threats.
“Storm Cursed” opens with some black witches creating miniature zombie goats and moves onto a plethora of strange and powerful zombies. Can Mercy save the world once again? Of course, she will and do it with her usual humour and her own unique style.
Linux on Chromebook
With Windows 7 End of Life, I’ve had it with Windows. I have used Linux Mint on an old laptop but figured I would try using a Chromebook. For the majority of my computer activities, the Chromebook is terrific, and since you can now load Linux (Debian), it’s even better.
I mostly use Google apps, but it’s nice having the option of using Linux apps, especially for offline use.
In today’s world, Hamburgers are delicious AND useful.
The Hamburger is the three lines at the top right of many mobile programs and apps. Clicking on the Hamburger brings up a context menu, and that lets you do things like bookmark pages, print, save files and other things. These ‘other things’ change from app to app.
To bring up the context menu, you can also use a two-finger click on a trackpad for laptops, ‘right click’ on a mouse for desktops. The Hamburger accomplishes the same thing but is mainly for touch screens and smart TV devices.
So, here I sit, looking at my watch. My Niece just had a baby, and she and her mother are on their way to my parent’s house for a visit. They are late. My Mom has Altzheimers and is starting to freak out. My Dad, who is almost ninety, is beginning to lose it as well. Mom has now decided to burn some toast in protest, and as I sit in the smoke-filled kitchen, I pondered the importance of time.
Initially, musicians kind of just played what they wanted when they wanted, and everything was very loosey-goosey. The Tactus, which came into fashion during the Medieval period, changed all that.
Rather like the second hand on a watch, it was around 60 beats per minute and was a down-up motion. Sometimes they used a large stick that was struck on the floor. These days we use a metronome or a conductor. This invention kept all the musicians synchronized.
As time passed the time, signatures were refined into what we know today. The top number is the number of beats in a bar and the bottom number shows which note gets a beat.
6/8 time would mean there are 6 beats in a bar, and the eighth note gets the beat.
4/4 time (also known as Common time) means there are 4 beats in a bar, and the quarter note gets the beat.
2/4 time indicates there are two beats in the bar, and the quarter note gets the beat.
Each time signature creates a different feeling.
3/4 time is used in a Waltz and causes a lilting quality. That’s because the strong beat is the first, so it feels like (STRONG-weak-weak).
6/8 time, which technically has the same number of eighth notes in a bar, has a different feeling because the emphasis is different. (STRONG-weak-weak-STRONG-weak-weak) in one bar.
Reggae is in 4/4 time, but the emphasis is on the 3rd beat, so it’s (weak-weak-STRONG-weak).
A March, in 4/4 time has a strong 1st and 3rd beat, or, (STRONG-weak-STRONG-weak).
All this makes me think,
I have in my hands,
Back thousands of years ago, when I was taking ‘typing’ in high school (yes, that was a real subject), we were warned of the evils of white-out. My bottle of white-out, with a brush, was precious to me. Not only did I use white-out for doing french nails, but I could also label my pencil case and running shoes. I was the talk of the school.
Years passed, and now through the miracle of invention, there are white-out pens. These pens have a little, retractable tip, keeping the liquid fresh.
I have labelled all my gig equipment, stands and cases, and find them particularly handy for adapters. I must have a hundred adapters for various bits of kit, from synthesizers to pedals and beyond. When I label an adapter, I know for sure it’s for my Zoom H4n and not my small humidifier.
I also use my white-out pen to make sure I have proper cord connections and quick reminders for setting up equipment with speed and efficiency.
Heck, I even label pill bottles, and once the white-out dries, you can add hilarious eyes.
I keep a white-out pen in my gig bag and another one in my purse, and you should consider doing the same.
Notes can have other names.
Here is a quick list:
B# = C
C# = Db
D# = Eb
E# = F
F# = Gb
G# = Ab
A# = Bb
B# = C
I didn’t list double flats or double sharps, but this gives you the idea. The usual practice is to use sharp accidentals for the sharp keys and use flat accidentals for flat keys. I write to make it quick and easy to read, so I mix them. Even if convention dictates an A#, I find it easier to break that rule and use Bb. When I see a Bb, my fingers go there, when I see A#, I get stunned because it’s more unusual to see A# than Bb. Especially, if you learned flute in band class, as flats are much more common than sharps.
Flutegirl.ca is a secure site. What does this mean?
I have an SSL Certificate for flutegirl.ca, which is basically like an online ID Card. This lets your computer know flutegirl.ca is legit, and information that goes back and forth is secure from prying eyes. SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer and is like a set of keys. Your computer and flutegirl.ca connect with a “Handshake,” establishing security protocols (exchange keys) and off you go, logging into flutegirl.ca with confidence.
I also don’t use any tracking information. The only data retained is your login, and that’s done by your browser and set up and dictated by you.
If you get to flutegirl.ca by another website that doesn’t have the address spelled correctly, you may land on flutegirl.ca and be told: “This is not a secure site.” If that happens, look at the address and at the beginning is Http:// it should be https:// That “s” stands for “Secure.” You can go to the Http and put an “s” in after the “p,” and it will change it to the secure site.
To download any file, just right click (two finger gesture on a phone or touchpad) and save it to your device. You can save it to your main storage then move it to storage media, or save it directly to storage media.
There are many studies extolling the virtues of music.
It helps develop a child's brain,
it improves hand-eye coordination,
it forestalls Alzheimer's;
but I think the greatest benefit of music is that it fosters an "every day effort" mindset.
In this day of montages in movies and a desire for instant fame and fortune, nothing is more important than developing the true key to success;
I'm not a world class flute, piano, or guitar player. In fact I'm rather ordinary, but I play every day.
At 8:00 a.m., I turn off my cell, pop on my headphones and play. I don't have any other criteria than that. I don't worry about how long I play, what I play, what instrument I play, and generally, have no goal in mind.
Some days it's horrible.
Some days I don't play for very long.
Some days I end up fiddling with electronic gadgets and do very little actual playing.
Occasionally, I have a great day, but more times than not, it's just an unremarkable day.
Unfortunately this "every day effort" mindset runs counter to the "lottery" thinking that pervades our society. So many people give up on music because they are not instantly great like this montage in August Rush
Thanks to movies and TV, we get used to the idea that long and tedious tasks can be accomplished by magic. Because this is unrealistic, as we try and learn something we invariably lose our way.
* "Is there any point to this?"
* "I'm getting nowhere, should I give up?"
* "This is hard. Is it this hard for everybody?"
and worst of all
* "Isn't there a quicker way?"
Cue the dramatic music and enter the purveyors of the quick and magic solutions.
After watching Rocky run up a few stairs to some inspirational music, then skip a bit of rope, only to become world boxing champion a few scenes later, these quick and easy solutions don't seem so far-fetched.
We all know, logically, that if we want to be the world boxing champion we have to train every day, for years, but we've been so inundated with the message that everything is instant and easy, that we've lost the ability to work slowly towards our goal.
Learning music is great for re-establishing the concept,
Here are some tips that have helped me develop an
"every day effort" mindset:
A side benefit of learning music to develop every day effort, besides making you fun at parties, is this is transferable to other things in your life.
One of my YouTube channels recently passed the 16 million view mark. I don't have any viral videos. I wasn't written up in a premier website. It wasn't luck. What I do is work on that channel, slowly, every day.
Many of my videos are terrible. Many are experiments. Many are too short. Many are too long. I've deleted countless failures and I've re-issued some with improvements. Not everything has to be gold.
This is the incredibly valuable lesson of music. A little effort every day and you can move mountains.
10,000 hours, we are told; it takes 10,000 hours to become expert in something. I don't know if that's true or not, but if you take on the "every day effort" mindset, in 27 years you will be glad you did.
YouTube is in a state of flux at the moment,
but you can still watch the videos at: