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 Circular Breathing on Lux Arumque - How can I learn to do it?
Author: InvalidNumeral 
Date:   2019-03-21 06:04

Skip this first paragraph if you just want to get to the question: So, I'm a clarinetist, 2nd chair in my band (so me and 1st chair always get 1st clarinet), in high school, and my symphonic band has gotten some new pieces last week. One of those pieces is Lux Aurumque, by Eric Whitacre. I've already researched that Bb-D tremolo, and I'll just have to deal with that, but I also noticed the 12 1/2 measure (I think) A at the end. It got me to want to know how to circular breathe, because I think the notes that the rest of the band plays during the sustained A isn't enough to make my breaths go unnoticed. I'll also add that the other 1st clarinet part is in a different class period due to STEM dual enrollment, so we can't really work out an effective way to stagger breathe. The best solution I know of for this would be circular breathing, but I don't really know how to.

I maybe have a few weeks to at least a month until performance, so I'd like to know a way to learn how to circular breathe in a few weeks. It doesn't have to be that good, just enough to sustain the note, because I'm thinking of just doing the "breaths" at a time where the band is playing a chord, so the tone doesn't have to be on point while I'm breathing. I've seen the tricks with a half full cup of water, but I can't really grasp how to do it. Like, I know how it's suppose to be done, but I can't get myself to physically do it. Any tips? My main problem is that I can't get the air from my lungs into my cheeks, and the fact that I have low-capacity cheeks.

Freshman Clarinetist - Yamaha 450N

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 Re: Circular Breathing on Lux Arumque - How can I learn to do it?
Author: Alexis 
Date:   2019-03-21 11:37

not knowing the piece, won’t you ultimately play with the other clarinet? And make an agreement what to do in the concert?

Or, take a quick breath why other people play
Or play the note softer
I would exhaust all other options before spending lots of time trying to learn circular breathing.

Prob with circular breathing is that until you are really confident, doing it on a single note (as opposed to passagework) doesn’t work very well. Also, as someone who does circular breathe, I actually use it extremely rarely.

As for tips, its really really hard to give any advice without seeing what you are doing. But, here goes.

The air is already in your cheeks. Its there now. Your lunga are not connected to the expulsion of air by your cheeks - thats just your cheeks pushing out the existing air.

As your lungs are not occupied with the outbreath, thats why you can take air in through your nose (into your lungs)

I learnt through blowing raspberries (not sure this translates, but like the sound brass players make) with my cheeks puffed out and trying to keep this sound going while breathing through my nose.

Consider if its really necessary though!

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 Re: Circular Breathing on Lux Arumque - How can I learn to do it?
Author: sax panther 
Date:   2019-03-21 13:30

I think I learned from a video on youtube...can't find the specific video, but I learned it something like this..

1. puff your cheeks out, and then push them in with your hands making, as alexi says, a raspberry sound.

2. Do the same thing, but without using your hands - use your cheek muscles

3. repeat step two, but focus on doing it in a really controlled, slower manner - no raspberries

4. repeat step 3, but as you push the air out from your cheeks breath in through your nose

5. repeat step 4, but add the transition from pushing the air out from your cheeks, to blowing normally again - try to get it smooth

6. step 5 - but with a clarinet in your mouth playing an open G.

Have fun! But as Alexi's not necessary when you have another player on the stand for the performance, and doing it at the end of a long piece (I've played Lux before), on a quiet note, with an audience listening, is very different from doing it out of context in a practice room.

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 Re: Circular Breathing on Lux Arumque - How can I learn to do it?
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-03-21 14:06

If you don't mind a simple solution, I personally would breath on the saxophone downbeat chords. I realize the intent of the arrangement is to hear this continuous sound (your "A") through the chordal punctuations, but the reality is that it will come off exactly the same to your audience taking a breath on their downbeats.

...............Paul Aviles

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 Re: Circular Breathing on Lux Arumque - How can I learn to do it?
Author: Tony F 
Date:   2019-03-25 15:06

I've played Lux Aurumque numerous times and have never found the need for circular breathing.

Tony F.

Post Edited (2019-03-30 16:01)

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