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Author Topic: Casio Horn  (Read 9799 times)
ubizmo
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« on: March 09, 2010, 02:12:23 pm »

I think it would be fun to play one of these Casio Digital Horns from the 1980s.  They sound a little cheesy, but that's okay.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Q2sa0jp9hY

Ubizmo


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ubizmo
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« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2010, 02:41:33 am »

Sigh.
I couldn't resist.
I bought one.

Ubizmo


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Josean
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« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2010, 09:42:23 pm »

Quote
Sigh.
I couldn't resist.
I bought one.

Ubizmo

I think is funny the fact that you didn't get to wait at least 30 minutes between posting the video and admitting you got one... that is so funny. 

But, I think the sound is good, but is limited to certain types of music  Grin


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ubizmo
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« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2010, 11:16:36 pm »

I think is funny the fact that you didn't get to wait at least 30 minutes between posting the video and admitting you got one... that is so funny. 

But, I think the sound is good, but is limited to certain types of music  Grin

I know.  I'm pathetic.  But you know, I think it was the actual act of posting the first message that pushed me to go ahead and buy the thing.  It's therefore Cliff's fault.

In fact, I've been tempted to buy a wind synth like the Akai EWI for quite some time--before I ever touched an ocarina.  But I've resisted the temptation, because of the expense, the the fact that playing it would involve using an amp, and so on.  I know electric guitar players are used to this sort of thing, but I'm not that keen on it.  The other thing is, I really miss playing the sax.  I still have two saxes, and I do play them once in a while, but the reality is that it's just hard to play on a regular basis when you live in a house with other people--not to mention a Philly row house with neighbors on the other side of both walls.  Even taking the sax out to the park, in good weather, is to create a lot of noise that isn't appreciated by others.  It's a real problem, and far worse than the problem of playing the ocarina.

So when I stumbled upon these old Casio horns, I immediately saw that they solve a few problems all at once.  They're relatively cheap.  They can be played at home into headphones without bothering anyone.  They can be taken out and played outdoors on a low volume setting without causing a lot of trouble, and without needing amps and wiring.  It didn't take a lot of thought to realize that this would be something I'd really have some fun with.

As for the sound... I don't know.  I can't say I'm terribly impressed with what I've heard.  In my opinion, the fatal mistake of instruments like this is trying to sound like real acoustic instruments.  It's just not possible.  It would be better to set them up with some interesting and cool synth voices that aren't meant to imitate any other instrument.  The sax-like form factor is good ergonomically, and provides a good place to put a speaker.

There aren't many YouTube videos of these things, but I've found a couple that are better than the one I originally posted.

T-Square Truth -- I think that one gives a better idea of what can be done with it.

David Sanborn -- I get an immense kick out of this video.  Even though it's really a joke performance, David Sanborn, a terrifically gifted sax player, actually does sound pretty good playing the DH-100.

When I actually get the thing, you can be sure that I'll put something on video, once I get the hang of it.

Ubizmo


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Ben
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« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2010, 03:39:23 am »

I would love a G MO EWI so I could do effects like guitar players can. I looked into making one, but the parts were pricey and I'm not good at making things.

Do you know about the eSax? It's kind of an Ocbox for the sax. Don't know how well it works and it is pricey.

The Casio Horn looks like fun!


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ubizmo
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« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2010, 05:07:43 pm »

I've seen the eSax, and it is pricey.  If I were a professional musician playing regular gigs, I'd get one, but for my purposes it's just out of my price range.

With these wind controllers and a loop box, one person can make a whole lot of music.

Ubizmo


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Ben
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« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2010, 06:48:56 pm »

and all kinds of sounds...


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Josean
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« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2010, 12:00:49 am »

I guess it has its advantages.

But... do you actually blow air into this digital horns?  It looks like a sax-shaped synthetizer.  I know that the guy for the "T-Square" is blowing based on his hand movements, but I'm just curious if thiese instruments have like a touch sensitive mode where no blowing is required...

BTW, I searched that eSax thing... that is the funniest thing I have ever thing, it looke from the movie Wall-e or something like it.



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ubizmo
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« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2010, 01:39:45 pm »

I guess it has its advantages.

But... do you actually blow air into this digital horns?  It looks like a sax-shaped synthetizer.  I know that the guy for the "T-Square" is blowing based on his hand movements, but I'm just curious if thiese instruments have like a touch sensitive mode where no blowing is required...

The Casio has a breath mode and a non-breath mode (I still haven't received it, but this is what I've read about it).  The difference is that in breath mode you can play dynamics: blowing harder increases the volume, just as it would on an acoustic wind instrument.  In non-breath mode, it's more like playing a sax-shaped keyboard.

Keep in mind that these things were made in 1984, and I don't think Casio made them for more than a few years.  There's a Wikipedia article about it that has almost no useful information, except for the amazing trivia item that the DH-100 is, or was, played in schools in western Macedonia.  And if you ask me, it's worth reading the whole article just for that one fact.  Anyway...by contemporary standards, this is a very primitive wind controller.  The Yamaha WX-5 has lip pressure sensors as well as breath pressure sensors, so the player can do more "natural" things with it.  But of course the WX-5 costs a whole lot more, and has to be connected to a tone generator and an amp.

I find the Casio horns interesting because, even though they were clearly marketed as consumer toys, someone put a lot of thought into the things.  Casio keyboards in 1984 (and many of them today) didn't have pressure sensors to allow variation in volume by how hard the keys are pressed, but the Casio horns have this pressure sensor feature.  The horns also have the ability to be transposed, up to a full octave, which is a feature that beginners might not really appreciate.  The range is 2.5 octaves, which is the same as a regular sax (without altissimo), and it has a pretty well thought-out fingering.  And someone went to the trouble of devising a whole new fingering system (optional) for it, giving it a four-octave range, another oddly un-toy-like feature.

I also think it's surprising, to say the least, that when these things became extinct in about 1989 (I think that's when the last model, the DH-800, was made), nobody else thought an all-in-one wind synth was worth making.  It seems to me that with today's technology, a pretty good one could be made, for not a lot of money.  Things have come a long way since 1984.

Quote
BTW, I searched that eSax thing... that is the funniest thing I have ever thing, it looke from the movie Wall-e or something like it.

It is a bit strange, but no stranger than playing into the OcBox!

Ubizmo


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ubizmo
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« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2010, 04:54:10 pm »

Just to hear what a modern wind controller can sound like, check out this WX-5 video.  The sax voice is very convincing.  But the WX-5 costs about $600, and that doesn't include anything but the controller.  To play anything, you need a tone generator, and they can cost an additional $600 easily.  Finally you need an amp, which adds more expense.

Ubizmo


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ubizmo
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« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2010, 12:58:53 am »

Here it is, in the flesh: Casio Horn demo.

Ubizmo


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Josean
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« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2010, 08:45:52 pm »

It's pretty neat ubizmo!  The clarinet mode sounds very very "digital".


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ubizmo
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« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2010, 11:59:40 pm »

I like the clarinet mode!--even if it sounds nothing like a clarinet. I especially like it dropped down an octave, as at the end of the video. It sounds pleasantly spacey, and in a way more ocarina-like than the iPhone ocarina.

Ubizmo


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ubizmo
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« Reply #13 on: March 26, 2010, 12:26:29 am »

I couldn't resist!

Fun with the Casio:  Bach 2-part Invention in D minor

Ubizmo


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FredDooolie
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« Reply #14 on: April 23, 2010, 08:00:00 pm »


Even taking the sax out to the park, in good weather,
Ubizmo

Sax in the park sounds like fun but make sure there aren't any cops around and your partner isn't just some random stranger.


... There is too much sax and violins on TV these days. Whatever happened to ukuleles and ocarinas?


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... There is too much sax and violins on TV these days. Whatever happened to ukuleles and ocarinas?
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