The latest addition to my musical family… the EWI

Because playing jazz clarinet for a living was a bit too mainstream for this lone wolf I decided to strike a slightly different path for myself,… “jazz clarinetist/EWI-ist.”

Have I piqued your curiosity yet?… I thought so.

And for all of those readers too embarrassed to admit they’re not up to speed with the latest, cutting-edge, random developments in synthesized woodwind instrument technology, EWI stands for Electronic Wind Instrument.

“Why would you do this to yourself?” you ask? “Why would you take another step further into the world of obscure modern jazz instruments?… What’s next, the Electro-Kazoo?!”

Allow me to explain: the EWI is cool. It’s cool in a kind of 1980s style futurism meets Star Wars Cantina scene kind of way.

Also, as some of you know, I’ve been whining about exasperated by the exorbitant price of professional model bass clarinets. In looking for other alternatives I came across some inspiring EWI youtube videos like this one (em,… not so much this one, or this one) and decided that such an instrument would not only be a great asset for my electro-acoustic project, I might also be able to produce a synthesized bass clarinet sound on the EWI at 1/10th the price of a bass clarinet. Genius right?!

There’s only one thing: It is not as easy as it looks!

I figured this out the hard way when, after a few drinks, I decided to pull this baby out of its box and play Happy Birthday at a family friend’s celebration. “It’ll be just like clarinet, only easier!” I thought. And so while the birthday cake was being trotted in to the room I quickly plugged my EWI into an amplifier and proceeded to butcher the most famous song on Earth. That’s right, after 18 years of musical experience I actually brought a large group of laypeople in song to a screeching halt with something that sounded more like Charles Ives meets R2-D2 than Happy Birthday. I literally couldn’t string 2 notes of that song together without accidentally touching a trill key and/or jumping several octaves. People were getting uncomfortable, I was turning a brighter shade of red by the second, and I’m pretty sure my Dad was questioning why he ever supported my decision to be a professional musician. There weren’t any small children at the party, but if there were, I’m pretty sure they would’ve started to cry in horrified confusion.

And that’s my news for the week, thanks for reading!

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