EWI Crash Course

Just starting to get on friendly terms with my EWI (it’s a 4000s for you gearheads) and I just wanted to share some of my thoughts on practicing this instrument.

When I got it I had too little time to really dig into it, but past weeks I’ve been having and taking the time needed to get into this. Partly because I’ve been traveling without any other horn, and partly because I’ve broken my wrist and it is way easier to play ewi than an 50s Buescher tenor with a broken wrist. But most of all, I’ve always loved synthesizers (my dad’s being a great keyboard and synth player and lover) and I found the right motivation and inspiration from instagram and his birthday coming up.

1. Setting up the EWI

Once you’ve got your instrument you’ll probably want to play around with it and get some feeling for the instrument, I’ve got stuck in this stage for almost a year but maybe you’re quicker?

After that you should download the Vyzex editor (if you’re on Mac) and make sure you’re instrument runs on the latest software update. Mine was a demo instrument before I got it and doing this resolved a bunch of malfunctioning. There is a manual and although it is boring and time consuming it is a very good idea going through ALL of it and make sure your fingering ect. is what you want it to be. As a sax player I chose sax fingerings, but oboe, flute, and others are available too! But I frequently go through the manual again to fine tune the instrument to work as good as possible for me.

This is probably the most important step!

2. Choosing a sound

Although the EWI has a lot of built in sounds, I found most of them dull and boring so I’m sticking to one of the presets for practicing with earphones but connect it to a desktop synth with lots of patches in it to get a fatter sound. I find that using both of the sounds together is the way to go for me. But as my dad remarked it is important to find your synth sound and when listening to great synth players like Zawinul, Zawinul or maybe Zawinul you realize that he has a very distinctive synth sound that he uses all the time. Although there is variations, it has the same expression from the musicians standpoint. So I spent some time finding a sound I am happy with.

Also, as a saxophone player that suddenly is using AMPS at gigs to be heard at all, it is wise to start practicing and rehearsing with amps and find out that there is a jungle of amps and sounds out there. It is a strange notion not necessarily having your sound close to you as with a saxophone. And don’t do the mistake of placing your amp at the floor and turn up the volume until you hear good enough. Angle the amp towards your ears or put it on a chair so that you get most of the sound. Or else you’re gonna start a volume war with your band mates.

You’ll hopefully see which one to go for in the picture below.

3. Practicing the ewi

It is basically just like practicing any instrument, and in particular the saxophone. I’ve been doing my regular scale exercises, my flute fingering exercises and mostly, playing slow transcriptions that I did in the past just to refresh my technique for the EWI. One of my favorites is the one below, I’ve been searching for the origin with no success, but I belive it beeing a flute exercise.

The hardest part have been the thumb, it is still hard, my broken wrist makes it harder to move my thumb, but as all EWI players know going between octaves can be a real hassle. But from Björn Arkö which is a big inspiration for EWI I learned that you should initiate the switch before it actually happens by starting to move the thumb, kind of like playing piano. This seems to work fine although there is still lots of work to do. As always when dealing with music, thankfully 😉

Feel free to ask anything or leave a comment if you feel like I can help with your EWI.

 

Nuvo jSax

The Nuvo jSax:

nuvo_jsax

While I was on vacation in Amsterdam a week ago I didn’t bring any kind of instrument but just some few hours after landing my urge to play got too big so I started walking around stores to find a saxophone. What I came up with eventually after asking for ”any saxophone” and ”the cheapest horn you’ve got” was the new Nuvo jSax!

img_4366And at first sight it is a pretty cool little horn! You can see right away that it has got the features of a saxophone, and anyone that is familiar with music will spot it as a saxophone. The fingerings is, for me anyways, pretty straight forward. BUT I have to say, I am a bit disappointed about them. I love that there is a G# key, but I would also like to play F# in a ”normal” way and Bb in a normal way. The F# I think could be fixed pretty easily with a rod or something similar pressing down two keys but leaving the hole open.

The horn sounds good! To be at around €100 it is incredible. You can hear that it is a saxophone, sounding like a soprano is has a pretty sweet sound.

Intonation is another matter, some of the notes are really unclear what notes they really are supposed to be, but then, it works like a soprano so the amount of adjusting with pressure or embouchure is not that big. But as a small kid or beginner, it might sound off.

I threw away the standard mouthpiece first thing and replaced it with my standard soprano mouthpiece Vandoren V16 with Vandoren ZZ reeds. My friend and colleague didn’t and had a hard time playing it, and came back complaining to me that it’s a hard instrument. I later tried that ”mouthpiece” and plastic reed that followed in the box but I would recommend anyone a real mouthpiece if even Yamaha 4c with a 1 1/5 Rico reed.

Conclusion:

If you take it for what it is, a small cheap plastic saxophone with recorder fingerings and limited to 1 1/5 octaves and a stupid mouthpiece (but frankly all saxophones come with a stupid mouthpiece) it is a really cool little toy, or first saxophone for beginners, or for people like me that like most portable woodwind instruments.

Uppsala Musikklasser

I am happy to announce that this fiscal year I am starting to teach at Uppsala Musikklasser, leading one of their orchestras.

Uppsala Musikklasser is a high school with music ”profile” and very good reputation. I am very excited about this opportunity and more so since me myself spent my high school years in this school.

DCIM100GOPRO
Oskar Forsberg

Uppsala Summerchestra 2016

So finally I have contemplated enough to be able to share this summers events.

With 25 young musicians divided into 2 orchestras with 3 weeks each, we did 40 gigs in total. With some interest in media as well as a huge number of applicants I think it is not too brave to say that it has been a success!

And the music! Each and every member of the two bands have performed flawlessly and way beyond my expectations and their previous level. I am so happy to have been leading these young musicians.

Workshop with Uppsala Jazz Collective

The first (of many?) workshop I did ever and the first that Uppsala Jazz Collective hosted was last Friday at Upplands Nation in Uppsala. It was a really great evening with a two hour workshop, hamburgers, a concert with JazzConfusion (a big hand to Daniel Angebrandt), and then a long fun jam session. Lots of great players and peoples around made for a great evening and atmosphere.

Thank you all!

Photos from http://galleri.2or4.se/Musik/2014/uppsala-jazz-collective-pa-upplands-nation