MIDI-controlers w/ BreathControl

(Non-Breath Midi Controlers of Interrest)

Serveral names are in use for this type of instrument: Wind Controler, Electronic Woodwind Instrument (EWI) and its counterpart the Electronic Valve Instrument (EVI). Yamaha calls the WX-series "wind MIDI controllers", on their japanese site they call it a MIDIsax. I prefer the term "breath-controler" for the instrument-type and "breath-control" for the technical topic.

I play the wx5 and the wx11 myself, so the list starts with these controlers. The list is probably not complete, perhaps there is false info, tangling links, etc. please hint me at omissions or faults!

Commercial Controlers

Yamaha WX5 (WX5_w) (since 1998, still in prod.)

Note keys (16 keys including assignable high keys (2), Octave Change Keys (4) (Control range: 7 octave), Pitch Bend wheel, Setup Switch, Hold Switch (Key Hold/Sustain/Portament), Program Change Switch, Power On/Off Switch, Sensors Wind Sensor, Lip Sensor, 611 x 62 x 70 mm, 520 g

YCWX5 Hardshell Case for WX5

Specs and Manual Yamaha.com

WX5 first Impressions Nortonmusic VL70-m page Differences between WX5, WX7 and WX11

Yamaha WX11 (1988)

Wind Sensor, Lip Sensor,14 Keys (Boehm fingering) +5 octave shift keys, Setup,Hold, Program Change, Lip Zero, 596.5 x 65 x 69.4 mm, 420 g

Specs and Manual at yamaha.com

WX11 tips from windlist

Yamaha WX7 (1987)

Wind Sensor (breath pressure) - Lip Sensor (lip pressure), Keys x 14, Pitch Bend Wheel, Key Hold, Program Change, Octave Transpose (-2 to +3 octaves), After Touch, Midi Volume, Tranpose to B flat, Transpose to E flat, Key Hold Normal/Follow, Dual Play No Breath/Use Breath, Wind Curve Select, Loose Lip/Tight Lip, Adjustable Pots Lip Zero, Lip Gain, Wind Zero, Wind Gain, 57(w) x 538(h) x 64(d) mm, 380 g

Specs and Manual at yamaha.com


Yamaha EW20 (WindJamm'r)
Yamaha BC3A breath controller headset

MIDI EVI, Steinerphone

Nyle Steiners Midi EVI User Manual (order: Nyle Steiner, 3111 Evelyn St. La Crescenta, CA 91214)

Patchman Steiner Hompage * Crumar EVI (historic)


Akai EWI 4000S

Akai (see promotional vids from Brecker, Mitzer, etc.)

Akai EWI 3020 Controler (+ EWI3020m, EWI3030m Sound Module)

Soundmodul: Midi Brainbox

Akai EWI 3000


Akai ewv 2000  

reference page for EWI/EVI Players


MDT Morrison Digital Trumpet

James Morrison/ Steven Marshall

Yamaha Easy Trumpet (announced, but not yet available)
is said to be played by singing into the instrument

other Toy instrument played by humming into it:
Saxxy/Vocolo by alto research (youtube)
Vocalizer 1000 (youtube) Kazooka (youtube)

Yamaha EZ-TP (youtube) (youtube)

(These are not really windcontrolers in a strict sense. But it is interresting that Yamaha obviously stops their wx5- developments and comes up with such developments in this product-segment of electronic windinstruments...)

Artisyn SX-01 MIDISAX      

The Artisyn SX-01 MidiSax is a midi wind controller with fingerings similar to a saxophone. Features include 2 thumb wheel controls, 2 user defined breath pressure control functions, a key speed translator, and 2 reed-flex control functions (assignable to send pitch bend, aftertouch, triggered alternate channel layering, or any of the 122 Midi control change commands).
16 performance presets for configurations and 10 user defined patches are available. Range is 4 octaves, and an pertinent data is displayed on an eye level LED. US$1,645

Casio Digital Horn

DH-10, DH-20, DH-100, DH-200 (DH-500 and DH-800 has been only available in Japan)

Digital Horn, internal speaker (at the "bell"), audio output and MIDI output, sending velocity with its note on messages, and channel after-touch.


Millioniser 2000 / 2001©

an electric harmonica that converts notes being played to MIDI. The control unit (C.U.) is about 10 inches wide, with a sliding mouthpiece and a number of programming and performance controls on the top and sides. Besides the numerous buttons, there are several sensors inside of the C.U. The player blows into a one hole mouthpiece, which is connected with a very sensitive air/pressure sensor.

harp-l-digest harp-l-digest * Walter Miller's Millioniser 2000 * new device



Lyricon (3 models)

Lyricon Wind Synthesizer Driver 1970-80, made by a Massachusetts company called Computone. This device produced voltages from fingering, lip pressure, and breath flux (measured by a hot-wire anemometer adapted from a small light bulb) that could drive an analog synthesizer. Saxophone style fingering, bass clarinet mouthpiece, with a sensor on the reed to detect pressure. There was a diaphragm which moved and changed the light output from a LED which was in turn sensed by a photocell to give dynamic control. It drove a computer that generated overtones. It used a form of additive synthesis, where you dial in the amount of overtones you want, and you could then blend that with the wind overtoned section. key switch for a fundamental of G, Bb, C, Eb or F and a range switch of low, med or hi. glissando, portmento and "timbre attack".

The next Lyricon had the ability to control pitch through fingering, pitch bend through lip pressure, and through its wind control outputs the performer would generally control VCA and VCF information.

LyriconII had its own built in synth module, a 2 oscillator synth with a choice of square or sawtooth waves, VCF and LFO, but no envelope generator, since you controlled this with your wind and embouchure. It had a patch po int to connect to external CV/gate synths. Info or Jorrit Dijkstra's page


Sting EW1, Sting EW2 MIDI controller SSSound Co.Ltd., more info

Perkiphone MIDI acoustic trumpet

Suzuki MIDI Recorder SRW-100


MidiWind MW-1 Innovations Fm7

On Tour Saxophone Bontempi




Experimental Controlers

Cook/Morrill Trumpet 1986-89
Constructed with Dexter Morrill of Colgate University, as part of an NEA grant to create an interface for trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, the Cook/Morrill trumpet controller project led to a number of new interface devices, software systems [1][2], and musical works [3]. Sensors on the valves, mouthpiece, and bell enabled fast and accurate pitch detection, and extended computer control for the trumpet player.

from: Principles for Designing Computer Music Controllers

Perry Cook: HIRN wind controller 1991

...sensed rotation and translation in both hands, arm orientation, independent control with each finger, breath pressure, and even muscle
tension in the lips [4]. Mappings from these controls to the parameters of the WhirlWind meta-wind-instrument
physical model allowed exploration of new “spaces” of acoustical processes...

from: Principles for Designing Computer Music Controllers


Ian Fritz




Related Controler Projects


is an actual alto sax that has been "hot-rodded" with electronics to send MIDI data to synthesizers and computers. The lip-pressure seems to be meassured by a magnet in the reed. It has aftertouch control, modulation control, start/continue/stop for sequencers, 5 part harmony in any given key (3 preset styles and 6 user modifiable), chord variations through lip pressure, 3 styles of pitch bend with 5 levels each, 5 part multi channel mode with proper voice leading, freeze harmonies, optional thumb express assignable for pitch bend/number of voices in a chord/lower-upper midi channel/ bII Substitue Chords/ sustain, portamento, etc.

Synthophone Zone


Mutantrumpet, dev. by Ben Neill

"The mutantrumpet is a hybrid electro-acoustic instrument with three bells, two sets of valves, and a trombone slide. The sound is converted via a pickup in the mouthpiece to MIDI information by a pitch to MIDI converter. There are momentary switches located next to the valves on the body of the instrument, as well as four continuous MIDI controllers in the form of pressure sensing pads and potentiometers. The acoustic volume of the mutantrumpet is often used as another MIDI controller. The mutantrumpet's computer interface enables Neill to trigger and manipulate sequences, grab samples and manipulate them in real time, and control lighting, slide and video projection."







General Info

Read my article (ger) on breathcontroler acceptance or "Der Instrumentalist in der elektronischen Musik" (ger).

Introductory article on virtual acoustic breath control by Yamaha.


Wind Controller LINKS

Commercial MIDI Wind Controller Comparison

Hardware and Experiments for Wind Controllers

WX7: kbspace, Tips

Akai: EWV2000, EWI1000, EVI1000 Video Instruction Manual (video), Professional EWI/EVI Demonstration Video (Nyle Steiner, Michael Brecker and Joel Peskin demonstrate Akai's first EWI and EVI in a 10 minute music video)

Other MIDI Controlers at synthzone , google.directory , Audio Playground Synthesizer Museum , new music tools , SYNTH & MIDI MUSEUM