Yamaha Design “Synapses” WX7
1987 / MIDI CONTROLLER
GOOD DESIGN GOLD AWARD
Released in 1987, the WX7 is a minimalist wind MIDI control played in the same way as a saxophone.
Since the WX7 is an interface for electronic instruments no vibration is needed, and the design retains only the essential nature of a wind instrument; a mouthpiece, keys to denote pitch, and a tube to support the keys – all other functions and ornamentation were removed. Honed to a simple and minimal configuration, this design defines a standard for digital instruments that people will continue to play for years to come.
Through thorough investigations of brass and woodwind instruments designers found that techniques used to play the saxophone were not difficult to master. Studying saxophone performance and fingering, we looked into the nature of wind instruments, reconstructing them from their basic elements. From there we took only what we found necessary to drive an electronic instrument.
A "box" in the mouthpiece section that detects the strength of the player's breath. A "bar" - the instrument body that supports the keys. The straight, sharp form of the WX7 integrates the box and bar motif in a simple, frank manner.
For the electronic instrument interface, we started from zero, beginning with the concept of the wind instrument, the most primitive interface known to man and one which is easy to play with emotion. In contrast to a keyboard instrument, creating the expressive capabilities of an instrument that utilizes breath in the manner of a vocalist was a challenge new to us, and required a fresh design.
Wind instruments, which performers feel respond intuitively with each breath, possess a physical presence extremely close to the performer's body. Designers sought a key layout that allowed the performer to play without looking at the instrument, and sought subtle qualities like touch, key return, and alternative fingerings that responded to a player’s fingers and intentions.
- Yasuhiro Kira
- Yamaha Design Laboratory