EWI - The Universal Wind Instrument?

Sep 08, 2015

Last week we started talking about the origins of wind instruments and ended up with mobile apps. Let’s take it to the next  level and talk about the EWI aka the electric wind  instrument. It’s a bit like playing Guitar Hero since you are forced to make the correct  fingerings  in order to get the correct pitches.

There is a clear difference between the EWI and classical instruments in terms of sound and development. For wind  instruments the process of innovation and adding additional features is quite slow, whereas the EWI is more flexible and adaptable to today’s available tech. Even though the EWI (or at least an older version of it) has been  around since the ‘70s, recently it has  again become more and more popular among different music communities. Let’s see why…


What is this Sorcery?

First of all the name points out the obvious. On one hand it promises the sounds from wind instruments and on the other hand it is meant to be a top notch electrical gadget.The EWI doesn’t make a sound of its own, but the magic happens when it’s plugged into a computer and starts to replicate the sound of the wind instrument of your choice. There have been multiple models of the EWI made by different producers, but the most recent ones use USB or WIFI to connect to the main source of music making, that is usually the computer.

The way it works is that you get the controller which looks more or less like a wind instrument- kind of a mix between a sax and a clarinet. It comes together with a computer software that gives you several options to choose what kind of sound you want to use. You also have the possibility to add music or other instruments to accompany you while playing. 

The console has no physical holes, but what it does have is marked spots which detect the movement of your fingers and translate it into different pitches.There is  a wide variety of instruments and fingerings you can choose from like: saxophone, oboe, flute, brass and clarinet. One of the producers of EWI even promise that “You get over 75 different orchestral, concert band, jazz band, and synthesizer sound sets”. This video makes it easier to understand what the EWI can do.

As far as reviews from users show, the EWI is for everyone from professionals to beginners. Some, use it as a starting point towards playing the “real wind instruments”, others use it to practice and some just for fun. One question that comes to mind is: Can the EWI replace the “real” instruments?

Your Neighbour's Best Friend

We can all agree that practicing any musical instrument can be a hassle, noise wise. Have you ever been in the situation when you are practicing and your neighbours keep complaining?

1175169_4680677754147_1681415661_n.jpgIt seems that the EWI is quite good at avoiding this problem by simply   plugging in your. headphones.You can also record yourself and follow your mistakes and progress.  

Start your Own One Man Band

It seems that the EWI is an instrument that is here to stay: you can practice in peace, you can play several wind instruments, and experiment with different sounds. If you are more into classical music and not too much into this electronic music making than probably the EWI is not so interesting. But, if you simply browse the internet you can see that the EWI has gained a lot of attention over the years. There are: online lessons, blog posts, forums, comments, youtube videos, best practices, EWI radio station, EWI artists who offer their service for weddings and other events. It seems that the EWI has found a niche market that eventually created an explosion of services.  

Here are some more EWI performances:


Claudio Werner | at Dec. 22, 2018, 5:17 a.m.

Awesome this instrument is cool.

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