An undeniable 'buzz' ran through the crowds of visitors to last month's British Music Fair. A certain spirit charged the air, a certain aura... as if those of us at the show were witnessing the dawn of a new age.
As you walked up and down the lengthy aisles, you caught fleeting snapshots of strange conversations. Words like 'feel' and 'expression' were being spoken with alarming regularity and in such enthusiastic tones - but not by those you would expect. And to what could you attribute the breakout of this enthusiasm? The soulful interaction of one man and his instrument. The man was Sal Gallina, a New York session player; the instrument was the WX7 Wind MIDI Controller, the 'ace' new product that Yamaha had kept quietly up their sleeve.
I don't think I would be alone in saying that Sal's WX7 demonstrations were the highpoint of the BMF show. His playing was tasteful, expressive and in stark contrast to the standard jazz-rock fare we have come to expect from most show demonstrators. You could tell he was a professional musician and not just a salesman who'd been thrown the instrument three days before the show and was trying to make out that he knew how to play it. We all took recorder lessons at school, but does that mean we are all qualified to give a demonstration? I only wish other companies would take a leaf out of Yamaha's book and enlist the help of professionals to demonstrate their equipment. Judging by the public's reaction to the WX7 demos, it's certainly the best way to get them excited about the product. And that's half the battle won!
As a precursor to our planned reviews of the three wind synths launched at the BMF show, we have devoted a fair part of this issue to the subject of Wind Synthesizers and their development, primarily because we feel that you will be in a far better position to judge what is said in the forthcoming reviews once you have been furnished with some historical and technical background information (see p36).
If wind synthesizers find appeal with enough traditional woodwind and brass players, it could open up a whole new world of fresh-sounding, expressive music. I'm sure there are plenty of closet saxophonists, flautists and clarinetists (?) about; people who maybe stopped playing those instruments once they left school and took up the synthesizer but who could well be tempted back by the emergence of these new wind controllers and the rich treasure trove of sounds they can offer. People like Peter Gabriel, perhaps (he used to play flute in the early days with Genesis, I recall) or Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull?
Whether you are interested in wind synthesizers or not, I recommend you read the article in this issue. It gives some possible pointers to the way synthesizers in general may develop more control of expression.
Editorial by Ian Gilby
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