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A Breath in an Electronic World:. Experiments in Musical Expression using a Midi Wind Controller. Matthew Ahrens Mentor: Dr. James Bohn Bridgewater State University. Overview. What is a wind controller? Use as an electronic midi instrument. Sample based synthesis.

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a breath in an electronic world

A Breath in an Electronic World:

Experiments in Musical Expression using a Midi Wind Controller

Matthew Ahrens

Mentor: Dr. James Bohn

Bridgewater State University

  • What is a wind controller?
  • Use as an electronic midi instrument.
  • Sample based synthesis.
  • Issues with commercially available voices.
  • Applied Results – composed work
    • Blend: duet for EWI and Guitar
what is a wind controller
What is a Wind Controller?
  • Played like an acoustic wind instrument.
    • Breath
    • Keys
  • Sends midi data to modules.
  • Modules generate sounds according to midi instructions.
how does it work
How does it work?
  • Midi Keyboard vs. Wind Controller.
midi continuous control 2 breath
MIDI Continuous Control #2 Breath
  • Velocity controls initial volume and timbre.
  • Breath controls:
    • Initial and sustained volume (dynamics).
    • Onset (attack)
    • Cutoff (Articulation).
other midi cc s
Other Midi CC#s
  • Portamento.
  • Glide (Glissando).
  • Hold and Octave (Polyphony).
  • Pitch Bend
pitch system
Pitch System
  • Keyed fingering systems.
pitch system1
Pitch System
  • Valved fingering system
systems on a wind controller
Systems on a Wind Controller
  • Differences and similarities to acoustic instruments.
sound modules1
Sound Modules
  • Wind Controller
    • Sends midi messages to the
  • Sound Module
    • (Hardware or software) which
      • Interprets data as instructions to manipulate a
        • Sample or sound algorithm (additive synthesis).
      • Sound is then output to a
  • Speaker or Amplifier
  • Small recorded segments of tone
  • Manipulated by Module according to midi messages
  • Example: Nylon Guitar String Sample
parts of a sample
Parts of a Sample
  • Four Basic Parts:
    • Attack
    • Resonance
    • Decay
    • Cutoff
triggering parts of a sample
Triggering Parts of a Sample
  • CC#2 Breath used to trigger parts on and off.
    • Breath on sends initial volume and timbre for onset.
    • Sustained breath value maps to loops resonance part.
    • Breath off signals decay.
    • Finalized with cutoff.
hardware for this exploration
Hardware for this Exploration
  • Roland Fantom-XR
    • Four different samples uniquely controlled simultaneously
    • Large variety of effects and timbre controls that can be mapped to wind controller parameters
    • High quality of sample manipulation and output.
issues with wind synthesis today
Issues with Wind Synthesis Today
  • Used as an emulation device
    • Approximately 90% of commercial patches available are emulations (Patchman Music).
    • The rest are synthetic timbres modeled after steandard electronic voices
      • E.g. Popcorn.
issues with wind synthesis today1
Issues with Wind Synthesis Today
  • Acoustic wind instruments:
    • Multiple timbre across registers.
    • Expression achieved through techniques
  • Commercial wind controller voices:
    • Unmapped expressive controllers (CC#s)
    • One Sample (single timbre) across eight octave register
    • Simple changing from velocity driven (keyboards) to breath driven.
solution with experimentation
Solution with Experimentation
  • Goal: Create and Use a custom sample that addresses these issues.
  • Attempt: A voice that used classical and acoustic guitar samples.
    • Samples were chosen from the Fantom-XR’s built in collection.
    • Timbres were chosen to blend – or compliment – a classical guitar.
making the patch
Making the Patch
  • Samples were cross faded to create artificial registers.
  • Acoustic guitar sample is only voiced in the classical guitar’s harmonics timbre.
  • Centroid – jargon term for average brightness of a sound – was used as the determinant for matching the samples.
  • Result: a voice with a timbre and feel unique to both guitar and wind emulation.
composition and recording
Composition and Recording
  • Blend: For EWI and Guitar
    • Cuente el Arroz
      • Chromatically heavy to show dissonance and resolution between an acoustic instrument and an electronic one.
      • Interweaving lines to show both parts as supporting to each other.
    • Ping!
      • Guitar part only uses natural harmonics.
      • Shows timbre differences capable with a expressively programmed voice.