Intraoral Pressure and Sound Pressure During Woodwind Performance

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For woodwind and brass performers, intraoral pressure is the measure of force exerted on the surface area of the oral cavity by the air transmitted from the lungs. This pressure is the combined effect of the volume of air forced into the oral cavity by the breathing apparatus and the resistance of the embouchure, reed opening, and instrument’s back pressure. Recent research by Michael Adduci shows that intraoral pressures during oboe performance can exceed capabilities for corresponding increases in sound output, suggesting a potentially hazardous situation for the development of soft tissue disorders in the throat and velopharyngeal insufficiencies. However, ... continued below

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Bowling, Micah May 2016.

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  • Bowling, Micah

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For woodwind and brass performers, intraoral pressure is the measure of force exerted on the surface area of the oral cavity by the air transmitted from the lungs. This pressure is the combined effect of the volume of air forced into the oral cavity by the breathing apparatus and the resistance of the embouchure, reed opening, and instrument’s back pressure. Recent research by Michael Adduci shows that intraoral pressures during oboe performance can exceed capabilities for corresponding increases in sound output, suggesting a potentially hazardous situation for the development of soft tissue disorders in the throat and velopharyngeal insufficiencies. However, considering that oboe back pressure is perhaps the highest among the woodwind instruments, this problem may or may not occur in other woodwinds. There has been no research of this type for the other woodwind instruments.
My study was completed to expand the current research by comparing intraoral pressure (IOP) and sound pressure when performing with a characteristic tone on oboe, clarinet, flute, bassoon, and saxophone. The expected results should show that, as sound pressure levels increase, intraoral pressure will also increase. The subjects, undergraduate and graduate music majors at the University of North Texas, performed a series of musical tasks on bassoon, clarinet, flute, oboe, and alto saxophone. The musical tasks cover the standard ranges of each instrument, differences between vibrato and straight-tone, and a variety of musical dynamics. The data was collected and examined for trends. The specific aims of this study are to (1) determine whether there is a correlation between IOP and sound pressure, (2) shed light on how well each instrument responds to rapid fluctuation, and (3) determine which instruments are most efficient when converting air pressure into sound output. Results of this study raised concerns shared by previous studies – that woodwind players are potentially causing harm to their oropharynx by inaccurately perceiving intraoral pressure needed to achieve a characteristic sound. Evidence found by this study suggests that while oboists generate high intraoral pressure for relatively little sound output (a fact corroborated by past studies), the same cannot be said for all of the woodwind instruments, particularly the flute.

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  • May 2016

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  • June 28, 2016, 4:28 p.m.

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  • July 25, 2016, 12:42 p.m.

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Bowling, Micah. Intraoral Pressure and Sound Pressure During Woodwind Performance, dissertation, May 2016; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc849677/: accessed October 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .