"opening the throat"

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by orcanels, Sep 27, 2010.

  1. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Even if we could open the throat, it wouldn't help. The problems with the upper body tension still remain and are the real problem. The issue is poor body use, bad breathing habits and has little to do with a single biological focal point.

    If we focus on breathing exercizes that help, on posture that helps and on that big relaxed approach to playing, most of us can improve our playing with little effort. Yoga, Alexander technique or decent martial arts training (not focussed on defeating the evils of mankind) all can increase our body awareness and improve our playing greatly.
     
  2. ska

    ska Pianissimo User

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    I have experimented with this alot. The high notes come with faster and faster air flow. But the flow of fast air must be consistent(supported) and the low notes come with slooooow flow of air . Just need to breathe, correctly mind you. It's a matter of feeling, but I am 99,99% sure that opening the throat is not gonna do much.
     
  3. s.coomer

    s.coomer Forte User

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    Rowuk is right on. It is called relaxing and not having tension.
     
  4. gzent

    gzent Fortissimo User

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    Notes above high C require a very fast air stream, which in turn means a lot of back-pressure on the windpipe. The taper, or down-sizing, if you will, that is created by the tongue, its arch and finally the lips is a little different for everyone and therefore
    creates different results, good and bad.

    For me, I find that the farther back in the throat I start the "tapering down" the better I can play notes in the octave above high C. In other words, I try not to "clampdown" with the lips or arch the tongue too much but rather work to close up the throat around the approximate area of the adams apple.
     
  5. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    GZ,
    please find me a picture in any anatomy book that shows how this is possible.

    My whole life (I am 50+) I have done everything possible to eliminate unnecessary tension between my chest and chops. All students with supposed "closed" throats were only tense. We changed that to proper support, tongue and chop control and the rest was easy if not time consuming. I know of no controllable muscle to do what you claim. Fill me in please. It would "revolutionize" my understanding of the human body.
     
  6. ska

    ska Pianissimo User

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    Yeah, I'm kind of curious aswell, I tried doing that by description, my voice gets a nasty growl in it, impossible to play :/ Maybe he has a unique anatomy.
     
  7. Phil986

    Phil986 Forte User

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    That sounds like a tremendous feat of control:shock:! I too would like to know how that can really be accomplished.

    All the following muscles can participate in some way to shape the pharynx/larynx from the mandible down:tensor veli palatini, levator veli palatini, superior pharyngeal constrictor, middle pharyngeal constrictor, digastric, mylohyoid, stylohyoid, omohyoid, sternohyoid, thyrohyoid.

    The sternocleidomastoid is much more involved to move the neck but is easy to see and usually a sure sign of tension because there is absolutely no reason to have it contracted when playing.

    To do what GZ describe would require coordinated actions of the superior, middle and inferior pharyngeal consrictors, with participation of all other muscles attached to the same structures, especially the thyroid cartilage. Now that's control!!!

    To be honest I can't say whether or not these muscles can be used that way, but I'm skeptical. A lot of the movements accomplished by these muscles are dictated by what the other muscles do; some of it is reflex, especially all the swallowing actions. Once again, words may not accurately reflect the actual process here. For instance, when people say open the throat, what they really mean is relax the pharynx/larynx.
     
  8. ottoa57

    ottoa57 Pianissimo User

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    Philippe, I have enjoyed reading your posts...the explanations are accurate. As someone who struggles with a tense throat I can understand what you are saying. I have heard from some to emulate singing....as a sings higher into the register,,,all the actions necessary with follow without too much thought... ah ah ah...the back of the throat does what it does..and the higher singing pitches follow...rather simplistic I know...do you agree with this in concept and execution?
     
  9. Phil986

    Phil986 Forte User

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    My take is that singing is a good way to learn what happens with the throat but in my experience, it is best to leave the throat relaxed when playing trumpet. I dare say it is even indispensable to leave it relaxed.

    In fact, the natural way of changing the pharynx shape when modulating voice seems detrimental to trumpet playing. Changing the throat shape induces local pressure variations high in the air column that interefere badly with the generation of your airflow by the abdominal/chest muscles.

    Also, when changing the throat shape, you can create local areas of air pressure, where it will affect blood circulation, giving you the "pressure in the head" feeling. This is something you may do sometimes when trying to push a high note without having enough air for it. It does not work because the rest of the cavity ahead gets larger again so it will experience a loss of pressure.

    We need a lot of air to generate high notes, not because the airflow (as in volume per unit of time) through the aperture is larger, but because we need a lot of volume in the lungs in order to generate a high pressure in the first place. Once we start compressing the air, it decreases in volume. If it decreases too much, we simply can not make our chest small enough to continue compressing. If you reach that point you may be tempted to instinctively use the throat to continue compressing but compression up there does not work well at all.

    The only good way to influence pressure high in the air column is tongue arching.
     
  10. Phil986

    Phil986 Forte User

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    You have to keep in mind that singing and playing trumpet are 2 very different activities. When singing, your vocal chords are the sound generating organ. They are located right at the end of the trachea, so there is nothing upstream to interfere very much with the air column. Beyond the vocal chords, downstream throat movements will not affect airflow much, it is already determined by the vocal chords.

    You will not affect that flow when singing by changing you throat shape. What you will do is change the size and shape of the resonating cavity. Of course, there has to be some collaboration between the 2. Trying to push the voice in a small cavity does not make sense and probably won't work.

    When playing trumpet, the sound generating organ is the lips and the important resonating cavity is that metal tube. The downside is that the entire pharynx/larynx cavity can now affect the air column. We don't want that because we want to manage our air column from down in the abdomen/chest and with the tongue arch. So it is necessary to leave the larynx/pharynx relaxed.

    That's my interpretation.
     

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