Musician’s Stories from the Trenches – Stephen Gagne

Editor’s note:  This is another in our recurring series of musician’s stories.  Some are biographies, others are specific events in a musician’s life.  We hope you will enjoy reading these original stories, as told by the musicians themselves.

Stephen Gagne’s musical story:


I’m happy to write a blog posting, but not sure it’d be of interest to your readers. I say that because virtually all my gigging and performance work has been on real horns – clarinet, bass clarinet, alto sax, and soprano sax. For the current show I’m working on, on one number they needed a recorder player. I bought a recorder and discovered the learning curve was unrealistic for the time frame, and dusted off the wind synth as a stand in. For that, emulating recorder it’s working great, and does a credible job.

And sometimes for the French Canadian folk music group I’ve performed with, it’s been great to have a tuba; again the WX does a pretty decent job on that sound.

What’s happened for the most part, however, is that I’ve gotten good enough on the “real” horns so that the wind synth’s best sax and clarinet emulations just don’t measure up, particularly for live performance; don’t give me the degree of depth, expression, and tonal palette I can get out of real reeds and real horns. And the wind synth just doesn’t have the, well, sex appeal, frankly, of a real alto.  Not that I’m at the level where I’m going to be doing national tours or anything, or looking to score women from performing — I’ve been happily married for 30 years — but I think you probably know what I mean.

When I first got into the wind synth, I was blown away by the way I could do a credible bassoon, flutes, etc. And if I was doing film scoring work again, I think I’d use it a fair bit. But for live performance it seems best reserved for speciality routines, at least for the kind of music I play.

Here’s 2 links of my recent playing on saxes/clarinets-

This is the Ease Coast Swing band I gig with regularly, for dances, weddings, and the like:

Second, for the international folk choir ensemble I am bandleader in (and direct/edit video productions of our concerts) – the link below will take you to a page of 5 videos, which also have stereo mixes recorded with multi-track and mastered in my studio. If you scroll down, the 2 that I’m playing horns on are:

Maramica Na Stazi, Metamorphosis, May 2013

Odovjala Lisickkata, Village Concert, September 2012

I am featured for a time in both numbers as I recall, but it takes a while to get to those sections of each piece.

Here’s the link:

So that’s my current story.  Perhaps at a later date I’ll post again with more details on my wind synth playing including instruments, synths, and styles.

gagne band

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