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The Grande
Synthophonopedia

by Mick Emery

 

The SYNTHOPHONE is an actual alto saxophone that has been "enhanced"
with  internal electronics to send MIDI data to synthesizers and computers.

The instrument feels and plays like a real saxophone.
It is also capable of producing some amazing effects.

" The real-time flexibility of Synthophone harmony is unmatched
in any other harmonizer ever created. " 
--
robosax

The MIDI format of the SYNTHOPHONE allows you to choose from a large selection of synthesizers.
Play into sequencers and even use notation programs that will turn your music into written parts.

With "special fingerings" it is possible to leave your synthesizers backstage, since you can select
your sounds and their ideal performance parameters
directly from the instrument.

 

Martin Hurni at NAMM'96

The design of the Synthophone goes back to the "pre-MIDI times" of 1981, where the first prototype (a wood-stick with Boehm-like keys) was designed by Martin Hurni.

It was connected to a dedicated analog synthesizer system.  This first stage of Synthophone was followed by a REAL alto sax with keys connected to a switching system to give a more realistic playing feel.

 

At  the ARS ELECTRONICA 1984 contest,  the first prize was given to the design of  the Synthophone for it's "most original and future-oriented development in the field of electronic sound production."

At about the same time, MIDI was to become a standard, and so the next prototype  was MIDI-equipped, although a separate hardware unit was still necessary to  convert a sax into a MlDl windcontroller.

A later model was then self-contained. A processor was put into the bell of the sax. This new SYNTHOPHONE was built in late 1986 and then refined to be produced by SOFTWIND INSTRUMENTS.

The instrument of today is a fully equipped MIDI wind-controller, which connects to any modern MIDI synth or computer.

Recently, 3 new features were implemented as a software update and further developments may be added as new ideas come along.

Softwind Synthophone

 

All new software features can be added through a simple
chip (EPROM) exchange which can be done yourself.

 

This information has been paraphrased from the Synthophone Operating Manual
Copyright 1987-2008 by Softwind Instruments

 

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