Steve Tavaglione

Musician/Sound Designer Steve Tavaglione is serious about music. How serious? He has worked on dozens of blockbuster films like the Finding Nemo, American Beauty, A Bug’s Life, and many more. Disney’s new film WALL-E made headlines as one of the biggest summer openings ever, and features some of Steve’s best work. Akai Professional’s EWI4000s was a crucial part of Steve’s work on WALL-E In addition to film, Steve has worked on numerous TV shows including CSI: Las Vegas, CSI: New York, Charmed, Star Trek: Enterprise, Lois and Clark, and more – all with the trusted EWI4000s at his side. We caught up with Steve and asked him about his work with the EWI400s.

Akai: How long have you been using the EWI4000s?

Steve Tavaglione: I have been using the EWI since it first arrived. I tried other wind controllers and they just weren’t intuitive enough. Things like pitch bend and the way they deal with octaves just wasn’t there for me. If it’s not serving any function to trigger a note, why add a controller for it? There’s really nothing else like the EWI. As a sax player seeing the EWI for the first time, one might think that you plug it in and it’s all sax but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Akai: Steve, you used the EWI4000s in the making of WALL-E. Tell us about that.

Steve Tavaglione: I found the EWI to be one of the most flexible and useful tools in my arsenal on this film. Aside from being an amazing project on which to work, the nature of WALL-E and his story presented me with some new ways to use the EWI. There is a lot more than simple traditional orchestral composition going on in the soundtrack and the EWI helped me improvise and find some new techniques that I am sure to use in future films. I used it in so many ways that it really became the standard controller for this project. For example, I created a randomized choir and triggering one note on the EWI would trigger the entire choir on a constrained scale. I used it to trigger brass horn randomization and clusters of sounds. They shot some video with me for the DVD that goes a little more in-depth. If it ends up on the DVD release, it will show the EWI in action.

Akai: Where else have you used the EWI4000s?

Steve Tavaglione: In addition to the movies I’ve worked on I’ve used it on TV shows and music tracks for Peabo Bryson, Sergio Mendez and others. Whether it’s for music, TV or Film, I often have to sit with others and audition new pieces. One really cool thing about the EWI is that it can sound so much like a real instrument it’s scary. On shows like One Life to Live, I’ve had people believe they were hearing a real cello or woodwind when it’s just me and the EWI. On Star Trek: Enterprise I used it for incredible Ethnic Winds and French Horn parts.

Akai: Are there any other uses you have found for the EWI4000s that people might not know about?

Steve Tavaglione: Well, most of the time I use the EWI, a computer with Kontakt, and just plug right into the mixing board. However, I had a lot of fun using a wireless MIDI transmitter to allow the EWI to be completely mobile. The internal sounds are great but this thing can play any software synth in the world. I had sessions inside and outside the studio! I was able to play out on the lot and wirelessly transmit to inside the studio. It’s interesting how being outside the studio changed my perspective.

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I found the EWI to be one of the most flexible and useful tools in my arsenal on this film...I used it in so many ways that it really became the standard controller for this project.
-Steve Tavaglione