Turn Thumbjam into an awesome Wind Controller Instrument!

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Turn Thumbjam into an awesome Wind Controller Instrument!

Postby paradox148 » Sun May 27, 2012 5:22 am

Turn Thumbjam into an awesome Wind Controller Instrument!

I play a Wind Controller Instrument(EWI4000s) and have found the level of control and expression is just unrivaled by any hardware controllers like wheel..etc.

If TJ can incorporate another CC controller by the breath, it would turn Thumbjam into the an absolutely amazing Wind Controller Instrument in it's own right with all the great sound. It can also function as a breath controller for other apps instantly, the first on the app store! Wivi and many other apps already have this features and it works quite ok but most of those apps have no MIDI out as they are more for casual fun than serious music creation unlike what Thumbjam is capable of. With the Yamaha BC3 discontinued it is next to impossible to find a good breath controller in the market.

As Thumbjam already has a great vocoder/MIDI implementation(I use TJ to play my Logic instrument via netsession!), I imagine that it should be relatively easy to add a filter to the signal generated thru the mic to control the various instrument parameters, and a button to activate that.

I am getting excited just thinking about it's postential! :)

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Just so I'm clear, are you

Postby Jesse » Sun May 27, 2012 4:55 pm

Just so I'm clear, are you suggesting that ThumbJam should accept breath controller CC on MIDI input, or are you suggesting it should be available for sending out based on the input level from the mic, or both?

Have you used your EWI to control TJ yet?

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Hi Jesse, Good to hear your

Postby paradox148 » Sun May 27, 2012 9:05 pm

Hi Jesse,

Good to hear your reply and thankyou for your interest.

To clarify, my post was geared towards having breath controller CC available for sending out based on the input level from the mic, although I would also love to see Thumbjam being able to accept breath controller CC too.

Yes, I have used my EWI to control TJ and it works very well. When I need a good Sax/Flute/String sound with my EWI on my iPhone, Thumbjam and BS-16i(with SF2 suppport) are my go to app. In TJ I have to edit the instrument so that the minimum volume is near zero to allow expressive control with the EWI. This is not true breath control cc I guess but it works well enough so far. (when you have incorporated Velocity layering I think having true breath cc control would become more important. Please make sure that velocity value does NOT limit the overall maximum volume though.)

So my post's emphasis was on actually using TJ as a Wind Controller Instrument in it's own right WITHOUT the need for an external wind controller like the EWI or WX.

You should check out various apps that use the mic as breath control like Wivi Band/Orchestra, Orcarina, iSaxophone...etc. None of them is a serious music app though and certainly does not have MIDI support. It also gets a bit tricky to blow onto the iPhone mic and I am also a bit concerned with saliva eventually damaging the mic so I am looking out for a good headworn headphone with a boom mic. I am kinda hoping that someone would be making a dedicated breath controller but it is highly unlikely as even the popular Yamaha BC3 has been discontinued.

I am no MIDI guru as I just know enough to get by. :) However as TJ already has the vocoder function sending out MIDI signals to be used by both TJ itself and external apps/hardware, I would imagine that it would be relatively easy to filter out the note data, leaving just the relevant controller signals, turning Thumbjam into both a Wind Controller Instrument on it's own, or use it as a pure breath controller for external apps/hardware. (you would have seen my seperate requests for a piano keyboard and soundfont support, both would make TJ a lot more useful as well for the more serious players. ;))

The following is an extract I have copied from my recommendation of Thumbjam and BS-16i to be used with the EWI posted on Patchman's windcontroller forum:


"As for Apps on the iOS, all the above mentioned synth apps works well. However as I am more into sample based realistic instrument sounds, I have found two apps that work very well: Thumbjam and BS-16i:

Thumbjam is a surprisingly expressive and playable app in it's own right, with many good acoustic/synth sounds to use and download. I have found that to use it well with the EWI, especially the wind/string types of instruments, I have to change the minimum volume setting range to near zero under Edit >Controls>Volume, and make sure that the Use Core Midi option is on under Pref>MIDI Control. I then save the edited instruments as EWI-Tenor Sax..etc. There are many more bells and whistles to be explored like loop recording with loop samples, Sonomo Audio copy/paste, background playing, and even uing it via CoreMIDI Netsession to control your soft instrument on your Mac! You can also import your own sounds or create your own instruments(gets a bit more technical though). I just love this little app. (Warning: one night I was lying in bed with my earphones on playing with Thumbjam, and forgot to turn off Logic and netsession on my Mac and all the while Logic was blasting out Overdrive Guitar as I played with my iPhone!!!! Woke up the whole house and the wife got a bit cranky! You've now been warned!)

BS-16i is also a less well known app that allow you to use your own SF2 sound fonts that immediately open up endless possibilities for sound choices as there are literally thousands of them floating around the net or you can make up your own with software like AWave. I bought a couple of SF2 packs from eBay and now don't know what to do with so many sounds!!!! Load just a single GM2 SF2 and you have 127 sounds to choose from immediately and you can load 4 sf2 at a time(up to around 2-300mB or it crashes) altough you can keep hundreds of sf2 on board. Once again to use it well, you have to tinker with it's settings a bit. Increase it's volume to max, and also it needs MidiBridge to work. This apps does take a bit of digging into to work well but once I had done that it is indispensible for me. Do upload your own sf2 sounds as the ones shipped are crappy. I would also like to see BS16i being able to play as a background app. At the moment it just shut down whenever another app is opened up.

Many other apps do work with the EWI like MusicStudio, FL Studio, 50in1 Piano...etc to different degree. Many of them limit the maximum volume/amplitude from the velocity value though, and my trick to circumvene that is to turn off Breath Sensitivity variable velocity output and set the EWI constant output velocity to a comfortable high value(high enough but not too strong an attack):
Most sampling based app on the iOS only uses velocity for volume and do nothing to change attack/timber/filter anyway and even if they do it is a fair compromise for usability I think. This way you can start a note off very soft and have it swell to the maximum volume. (think nice string build up)

Sampletank is an interesting one. It has many quality sounds but at the moment it is un-usable with the EWI as it does not respond to cc control well if at all. I have contacted IKMultimedia and was told that in the upcoming update it will include cc controls and many other enhancement. So I am keeping my eyes out for it.

I also use other apps as backing tracks. I'd like to mention Sweet Midi Player as you can use your own SMF and GM DLS(like sf2) and it plays in the background, then you've got literally thousands of songs with your own preferred GM Sound set. Chordots/Band in a Hand has some nice chord patterns too. In fact if you use a background playing app for your EWI, you can use any music player to jam and play with. Various karaoke apps are good for this.

One problem that I have found with many of the apps is that it seems like sometimes they are not receiving the note on command and miss some notes during playing and is very annoying. I have not found this to be the case with Thumbjam and BS-16i but happens a lot with 50in1 Piano and MusicStudio. If anyone has a solution with this I would love to hear about his/her solution."

I apologize for the very long post but I just cannot contain my excitement at the prospect! :)

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Hi Paradox148, This was a

Postby SparkyD » Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:33 am

Hi Paradox148,

This was a very interesting thread, although a lot of what you and Jesse discussed is over my head at this early stage in my iOS music-making journey. When I eventually get to the stage where it all makes sense to me, I sure hope that the options you propose are available in TJ.

One point you mentioned really caught my attention. You said that "I am looking out for a good headworn headphone with a boom mic." Did you ever find one? I'm very interested in locating one myself, but everything I've seen so far is geared toward talking, not singing or (I assume) breath control. Users report audio quality issues that I guess don't matter to folks who are just chatting, but we need something more high-end. If you have any suggestions, I'm all ears!


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Hi, Sparky, Unfortunately,

Postby paradox148 » Mon Sep 10, 2012 5:56 am

Hi, Sparky,

Unfortunately, no. After looking for a long time and some expensive experiments, I have come to the conclusion that the best way to go is to buy a good quality head/ear worn mic to use with my trusted SONY MDR-7506. Still looking but am thinking about getting the Countryman E6.

Short answer as this is a bit off topic for the thread. You can email me at chan148atgmaildotcom, if you wish. :)

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Interesting thread, Thanks.

Postby bflat » Thu Mar 13, 2014 1:21 pm

Interesting thread, Thanks.

Does this midi connectivity discussion apply to the Akia EWI4000s only?
Or the EWI USB as well? End questions.

My EWI 4000s connection to the iPad Air and below performs well with a Line6 MIDI Mobilizer interface; however, have not been able to interface EWI USB and Thumbjam. Any suggestions is appreciated. My preference is to use the EWI USB (light weight and portable) Thanks again!

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UPDATE Finally able to

Postby bflat » Thu Mar 13, 2014 4:59 pm


Finally able to connect Akai's EWI USB Wind Controller to Thumbjam with some success. Connection is made through Audeonic's MidiBridge App. MidiBridge is available for download at the iTunes App Store. "Some success" imply that I am able to pass midi data from the EWI through the MidiBridge to Thumbjam and produce selected instrument generic sounds (i.e. pitches), however, still experiment to realize the full range of musical nuances via this connection. Thanks.

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Hi! bflat, It's been awhile

Postby paradox148 » Fri Mar 14, 2014 8:33 pm

Hi! bflat,

It's been awhile since I last wrote in this thread. These days I have been using Sampletank mostly as my sound source for playing with my EWI4000s as it does respond quite well to CC#7 that you have to set on the EWI BS settings.

I do not remember having to use MIDIBridge for the connection though but I will check it out when I can find some time. (OK, couldn't resist it, forget my long overdid tax return and went and have a play: no MIDIBridge required, I just selected iRigMIDI Voice Input ON). Not sure how it would work with the EWI USB. I am assuming that you are using the camera kit with an iPad? It may show up in the MIDI Input Connection settings for you to select. Would you know if the camera kit works well in iPhone as well with MIDI controllers?

What I do find though is that for Thumbjam to respond well to volume change, I had to duplicate and rename an instrument(my favourite: Tenor Sax to EWI-Tenor Sax), go into Edit/Controls/Volume and enable X-axis control and to set the minimum volume to a very low level(-38dB for me) so that when I blow softly it would play that softly.

Then I would go into Prefs/MIDI Control:
-Pitchbend Range: 2(or to your taste)
-MIDI Input Connections: iRig MIDI Voice Input ON
(I now use the iRig MIDI with the Genuine Apple 30Pin to Lightning adaptor to connect to my iPhone5s)
(Do not even bother to get any generic brand adaptor, they do not work)
(get the adaptor with a bit of cable as it connects easier to the iPhone)
-other settings to taste(MIDI Channel...etc)

On the EWI(not sure if it is the same on the EWI USB):
-go to BS(Breath Sensor) setting and make sure that vo(Volume CC out is on)
-*** this goes for most sound apps on the iOS and not many of them support true Breath CC#2

I think that's about it. I just had a play with the Thumbjam Tenor Sax again and I am still loving it. It does have a different character from Samletank, smooth and silky... :)

Some of the TJ sounds I like using with my EWI: Tenor Sax, Cello, Violin, Synth Choir, Electric Guitar, Flute, Trumpet, Trumpet Harmon Mute, String Ensemble, JR Smooth Steel, JR Zendrix, HEN. Some of them I might have imported so not found in TJ though. I cannot remember which ones. For each one of them I do set the minimum volume to a low setting for responsiveness.

Two other apps I use a lot for sampled sounds are Sampletank and BS16i. Sampletank has many great sounds out of the box and BS16i is great as you can import any sf2 files you want to try out thousands of them you can either purchase or obtained for free online. BS16i can also play GM song files(as backing) with any GM compatible sf2 set and export them as wav to other apps as well as now being compatible with AudioBus. Awesome!!! :)

If you are a Sax and Wind enthusiast, I do highly recommend getting Sample Modeling's Tenor and other products. They are not cheap at all but totally worth it!!!! Be warned, they respond so truely to Breath that if you are used to using CC7 for your volume control it does feel very different(e.g.: sound cut out at very low breath pressure rather than lingering on as when using CC7).

I also use various synth apps but I am more old fashion and tends to use the acoustic sample based instrument mostly.

Hope that was helpful and enjoy!

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Yes, that attachment would

Postby Jesse » Sat Mar 15, 2014 7:18 pm

Yes, that attachment would work very well to make breath control more comfortable on an iPhone. I'll consider making "mic wind noise" an optional volume modulator in future versions.

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That is great news indeed,

Postby paradox148 » Tue Mar 18, 2014 4:10 am

That is great news indeed, Jesse!!! It will certainly take TJ's expressiveness to a new level!

Hmm.. how come I cannot see my post regarding the Bludbird attachment? I find that all my posts now do not appear automatically. Either they just do not appear at all or have to await approval?


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