Wind Controller in Worship
I have a Yamaha WX5 MIDI Wind Controller. I absolutely love it. I got it back in 1998 right after I started college. I was in a cover band and played the saxophone, but I wanted something else to add to the mix. Enter the Wind Controller. When I realized that I could play harmonica, fiddle, electric guitar, drums, SFX, and just about anything else, I was sold.
It was a few years after this that God led me into a part-time music ministry position at a tiny little Baptist church in North Mississippi while I was in school at Ole Miss. I was still in the cover band. We would play gigs on Saturday nights and I would go and lead worship on Sunday mornings. It didn’t take very long for me to realize the hypocrisy of the situation. Taking out my sax or my wind controller on a Sunday morning and smelling cigarette smoke didn’t help matters either.
Fast forward many years and much spiritual growth later. I play my wind controller in worship just about every week. Our pianist usually picks the offertory, and I play lead along with the organ, piano, and synth. It’s the only opportunity I have during our worship services to play. And I cherish it. I miss the playing time i used to get, but I don’t miss the worldly gigs at all. Now I make music to worship my Savior.
My wind synth has given me untold opportunities for personal worship, and judging by the discussions I’ve had with church members and guests, it has ministered to others as well.
The possibilities are endless. I typically try to select an instrument that fits the style of the song we are playing. Violin or cello are used most often, but I have also used tenor Sax, flute, bagpipes, irish whistles, and even a full orchestral sound. Most people seem to pair this controller with the Yamaha VL70m tone generator (which is now discontinued). It uses physical modeling technology instead of sampling – it gives incredible response and lifelike sound. The only problem I have with it is that it is monophonic; it can only play one note at a time. In order to layer sounds with this tone module, I would have to purchase more of them and link them together via MIDI. That gets a little pricey when they run anywhere from $500 – $700 on ebay!
To solve the layering problem, I ventured into softsynths (those that are computer – based). Right now I use Garritan World Instruments and the Garritan sounds that come stock with the Ewi USB (another wind controller). The World Instrument package comes with Aria Player, which is a 16 channel virtual mixer that I can load any sounds from the Garritan libraries I want to. I love it. If I wanted to, I could mix 8 various bagpipes, a soprano sax, chimes, nose flute, djembe, and steel drums and go to work. That probably wouldn’t sound great for an offertory, though.
I love experimenting with this thing; I’ll post as I discover more (when I hopefully have time!).