Reply To: A MIDI Melodica

Antonio Freixas

Strangely enough, I can actually answer your question since I’ve owned a Yamaha WX11 wind controller for some time.

Yes, you can use breath from one and notes from the other, but it is horribly clumsy.

The WX11 emulates (roughly) the fingering of a saxophone/clarinet/recorder. What this means is that, if you blow into the instrument, it always plays a note, just like a real instrument. In other words, even without any keys pressed, you get a note. So to get the breath control data from the WX11 but not the notes, I sent it to a track on my DAW, REAPER, where I used a MIDI effect to discard the notes.

What happens next depends on the MIDI instrument being used. The particular sound library I first used didn’t support breath control, so I also mapped breath control to volume. Then I had the keyboard send on Channel 2 to a separate track where another filter changed the note velocity to the maximum, 127 and the channel to 1.

Both tracks were then merged into a third track that contained the sound library. Rather involved, no? But it worked.

The final volume of any note was breath control * velocity / 127 and since velocity was always 127, the breath control value completely controlled the volume. If I didn’t change the velocity of the keyboard notes to 127, then the volume of any note is wildly unpredictable.

Then I bought some Audio Modeling instruments. They use velocity for attack and they support breath control is supported, so I still had the WX11 on channel 1 and they keyboard on channel 2, but I only needed to do the note suppression of notes from the WX11 before merging.

I had to hold the WX11 with one hand while playing the keyboard with the other. It’s a pain. The only reason I even did this was to get a sense of how well a breath controller would work with the Audio Modeling instruments before committing to buying the TEC BC 2.

In any case, as you can see, it can be done, but the solution depends on the MIDI instrument you use and the tools you have to work with. You cannot just use a MIDI merge solution–that won’t work.

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