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 Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-18 15:10

This is my attempt to understand Tony Pay's writings on "Support". I do apologize upfront if I paraphrase badly or put words in his mouth. Until he comments on my words you should consider that this is unsubstantiated. Quoting him would not be adequate for me here. I want to be able to summarize his thoughts without mangling them too much. The twofold purpose is 1. to understand the subject 2. understand Tony .
It appears to me that it is generally true (ie more frequently true) that teachers separate the two terms "Blow" and "Support(the technique). We just "Blow" and add support as though it were icing on the cake. Mr Pay uses the term "Blow" to include the technique of support. When we blow we are doing it with proper support technique.
It would seem then that the following scenario could take place at a Tony Pay lesson. 1. Student plays 2. Mr Pay says "blow more" 3. Student plays louder 4. Mr Pay says "not louder" 5. Gives student his 3 note exercise That's it for now. The topic "Volume and Air Speed" might add some more wrenches to the above. Respectfully Arn

Freelance woodwind performer

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2008-09-18 16:06

Arnoldstang wrote:

>> It appears to me that it is generally true (ie more frequently true) that teachers separate the two terms "Blow" and "Support(the technique). We just "Blow" and add support as though it were icing on the cake. Mr Pay uses the term "Blow" to include the technique of support. When we blow we are doing it with proper support technique.>>

I thought about waiting to see whether others might want to answer Arn (BTW do you prefer to be called Arn, Arnoldstang or John?), but decided to do it myself one more time. (My time 'off':-) ends soon.)

Well, after all that, Arn has it the wrong way round in describing how it is for me.

What I say, to start with, is that EVERYONE agrees that blowing properly has to be done from low down. Raising and lowering the chest is frowned on by all teachers. So, let's agree the convention that the word 'blowing' means, 'blowing from low down'. (You can also say that that is 'blowing from the diaphragm' -- and some books do -- because the diaphragm goes down when you breathe in, and is pushed up when you blow. But that doesn't mean you blow WITH the diaphragm, because the diaphragm can't push upwards, only downwards.)

>> Mr Pay uses the term "Blow" to include the technique of support.>>

No, exactly not. See the whole of the first post in 'Keepers/Support':

http://test.woodwind.org/clarinet/BBoard/read.html?f=20&i=714&t=714

'Support' occurs when we blow in a special way, namely against diaphragm resistance. The more diaphragm resistance, the more support.

I'll try one last time. Suppost I'm a sign painter, painting someone's name above their shop. I stencil the letters, and then start filling them in, painting normally. I don't need to be too precise about the filling in -- I can use fairly crude brushstrokes.

But when I come to paint the EDGES of the letters, I have to be more careful.

Suppose I'm right-handed. I rest my left elbow on something, and SUPPORT my painting hand with my left arm, by holding my right wrist with my left hand. Now I'm painting WITH SUPPORT, using the combination of the push of my right hand towards the sign and the opposite push of my left hand away from the sign. It gives me better control, you see.

Painting with support is a special case of painting, just as blowing with support is a special case of blowing.

I don't know what other teachers say about 'Blow' and 'Support'. No teacher of mine ever explained it to me. None of the books I read were any help to me either; so I found myself confused about the matter, and avoided the subject for the most part in my own teaching.

But I thought about it for many years.

I remember noticing one day around 1970 in the orchestra that I could play quietly even while seeming to make the same effort as when I was playing loudly; but I didn't make any connection with the idea of support until many years later. I did use the technique of 'large effort in piano' from time to time, though. It seemed to me to create a more intense piano, that was all.

The penny finally dropped in the middle of my giving a lesson to someone in the mid-80s in Italy. Someone had told me that there were no sensory nerves in the diaphragm, and it suddenly struck me to try 'the magic diminuendo' for myself. I was so amazed at the result that I taught ALL the lessons in that session of a few days on 'il diminuendo magico', learning the relevant Italian words from my students.

>> It would seem then that the following scenario could take place at a Tony Pay lesson. 1. Student plays 2. Mr Pay says "blow more" 3. Student plays louder 4. Mr Pay says "not louder" 5. Gives student his 3 note exercise That's it for now.>>

Judging by OUR exchanges, it might take a bit more than that:-(

But in a way, you're right. Once you catch on to the idea that your diaphragm (or, rather, the part of your brain that controls your diaphragm -- probably the cerebellum, no?) can learn by itself, then all that's necessary is to repeat, noticing what's going on, until you hear that it does what you want. All this explanation becomes redundant.

It explains the 'mystery' in such a way that you can forget about it -- until you have to explain it to someone else, that is;-)

Tony



Post Edited (2008-09-18 16:23)

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-18 16:25

I'm John. Arnoldstang is only used to deflect slings and arrows.

Freelance woodwind performer

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-18 17:18

I think I understand this opposition concept but need clarification on this "But you can blow the clarinet well in this sense without using 'support' at
all. When you're playing very loud, for example, your abdominal muscles are
pushing the airstream only against the resistance of the reed/clarinet
system." Should I conclude here that you are pushing the airstream only against the resistance of reed.clarinet sytem because your abs have totally negated the force of the diaphragm? In this case you are in fact relaxing your abs?

Freelance woodwind performer

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-18 18:10

Not sure about this, I wrote
>> Mr Pay uses the term "Blow" to include the technique of support.>>
Tony Pay responded..
"No, exactly not. See the whole of the first post in 'Keepers/Support'." When you say "No, exactly not" does this mean....not exactly or definitely not? I never use the expression exactly not. In this Keepers/Support post you are definitely stating the exception to the rule. By saying that in FFF playing you don't support when you blow. It doesn't change the fact that 99% of the time we are playing at a softer dynamic level than this. I have carefully used the term "technique of support" to avoid any confusion that I am suggesting a constant in terms of support. You have disliked the term maximum support in the past yet have no objections about 0 support so I would take it....that support can vary from none to a lot. (a lot is less than maximum physical which would be counterproductive).
If exactly not means NO...then it follows that you separate blowing and supporting. We consciously or subconsiously add varying amounts of support for different situations. So we go back to the scenario(which you didn't disagree with initially, other than it being too short and simple perhaps. Here is the new scenario....1. Student plays 2. Tony Pay says "more support and keep the same dynamic level 3. Tony Pay says "less support and keep the same dynamic level. 4. Tony gives the student the 3note exercise.

Freelance woodwind performer

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-18 19:23

I would to thank Tony for all his efforts. After reading this post from Clarinet Wife....it made it quite clear! She writes....
Very interesting topic! I have always thought about the relationship of "support" as a physical mechanism and "intensity" as a concept that one needs to have a good sound at a soft dynamic. It is not easy to wrap the mind around this, and your treatment of the subject above is the most concise and understandable I have seen. Thanks! " Clarinet Wife obviously is much better at wrapping her mind around things than I. I fear also than I have broken Tony of his concise explanations. If Tony happens to read this.... Thanks again.

Freelance woodwind performer

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2008-09-18 19:56

Arnoldstang wrote:

>> I think I understand this opposition concept but need clarification on this:
Quote:

"But you can blow the clarinet well in this sense without using 'support' at all. When you're playing very loud, for example, your abdominal muscles are pushing the airstream only against the resistance of the reed/clarinet system."
>> Should I conclude here that you are pushing the airstream only against the resistance of reed/clarinet system...>>

Yes, I think that's likely, if you're playing very loud. Of course, you don't really know that your diaphragm isn't resisting a bit -- how could you? -- but I doubt that it is.

>> ...because your abs have totally negated the force of the diaphragm? >>

If you like.

>> In this case you are in fact relaxing your abs? >>

What?

Tony



Post Edited (2008-09-18 21:00)

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-18 20:36

Not quite there with the opposition... my thought was the abs muscles are stretched at the same time as the diaphragm is stretched. I guess I don't see opposition.... unless the diaphragm muscle is weaker or smaller in size. The painter analogy....here is? Sorry for this.

Freelance woodwind performer

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2008-09-18 20:52

Arnoldstang wrote:

>> Not sure about this, I wrote: "Mr Pay uses the term "Blow" to include the technique of support."

>> Tony Pay responded:
Quote:

"No, exactly not. See the whole of the first post in 'Keepers/Support'."
>> When you say "No, exactly not" does this mean....not exactly or definitely not? I never use the expression exactly not.>>

It could be replaced with, "No!!":-)

>> In this Keepers/Support post you are definitely stating the exception to the rule by saying that in FFF playing you don't support when you blow. It doesn't change the fact that 99% of the time we are playing at a softer dynamic level than this.>>

OK, let me rephrase that. You can play perfectly well at any dynamic without using support, the model being what you do when you play fff. To do it at a lower dynamic, you just blow less.

>> I have carefully used the term "technique of support" to avoid any confusion that I am suggesting a constant in terms of support. You have disliked the term maximum support in the past yet have no objections about 0 support so I would take it....that support can vary from none to a lot...>>

That's absolutely so...

>> (...a lot is less than maximum physical which would be counterproductive).>>

Yes.

>> If exactly not means NO...then it follows that you separate blowing and supporting. We consciously or subconsciously add varying amounts of support for different situations.>>

Precisely.

>> So we go back to the scenario (which you didn't disagree with initially, other than it being too short and simple perhaps). Here is the new scenario....1. Student plays 2. Tony Pay says "more support and keep the same dynamic level" 3. Tony Pay says "less support and keep the same dynamic level". 4. Tony gives the student the 3note exercise.>>

That might work; though it's more striking, and much more useful in practice, for the student to keep the same 'blow' (which they can feel) and change the dynamic (which they can hear). The amount of support stays outside their awareness.

The point of all this is to show the student that they can achieve very many dynamic modulations (both sudden sforzandi and slower changes) very simply, just by IMAGINING THEM, and ALLOWING their diaphragm to learn how. And, perhaps even more importantly, they don't lose 'the long line' -- which is one of the most powerful qualities of good wind playing -- because that's represented by the constant 'blow'.

Tony

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-18 21:48

..." You can play perfectly well at any dynamic without using support, the model being what you do when you play fff. To do it at a lower dynamic, you just blow less." Would it be true to say "without using support" could have been expressed....."without using conscious support". This seems to be more in line with your other thoughts. I'm not trying to poke holes here just getting it right. thanks

Freelance woodwind performer

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2008-09-18 22:05

Arnoldstang wrote:

>> Not quite there with the opposition... my thought was the abs muscles are stretched at the same time as the diaphragm is stretched. I guess I don't see opposition.... unless the diaphragm muscle is weaker or smaller in size. The painter analogy....here is? Sorry for this.>>

Otherwise the whole several and is neutral mockery behind the interesting. Why wonder if heretofore leavening sells short? Undeniably.

Take care,

Tony

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-18 22:50

I have been reduced to a blethering idiot.

Freelance woodwind performer

Post Edited (2008-09-18 23:33)

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2008-09-19 09:47

Arnoldstang wrote:

>> You wrote:
Quote:

"You can play perfectly well at any dynamic without using support, the model being what you do when you play fff. To do it at a lower dynamic, you just blow less."
>> Would it be true to say "without using support" could have been expressed....."without using conscious support". This seems to be more in line with your other thoughts. I'm not trying to poke holes here just getting it right. thanks. >>

I did mean "without support", in fact.

There's a difficulty in the word 'conscious' that is brought out in the dialogue with Cohler:

http://test.woodwind.org/Databases/Klarinet/2008/01/000124.txt

...and it's difficult to answer because I don't know how YOU are using the word.

But I CAN say this: if I really wanted to check that I'm playing with no support at all I could (all in one breath) first of all play; then do a magic diminuendo; and then, allow the sound to crescendo again to a maximum without changing the feel of the blowing system (that's what I suppose you might call a 'magic crescendo':-).

At that point, I must be using zero support. The diaphragm isn't resisting the blowing, because if it were, the sound could get louder.

I can't see any reason why I would want to do that, but it's clearly possible.

Tony

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2008-09-19 10:34

Arnoldstang wrote:

>> I have been reduced to a blethering idiot. >>

It's just that you need to be clearer about what it is that you don't understand.

Which bit of the following gives you a problem?

(0) When you blow, you use your back and abdominal muscles simultaneously.

(1) The combination of back and abdominal muscles working together doesn't bend your body, because the 'bending' force of the abdominal muscles is met with an equal and opposite 'straightening' force of your back muscles.

(2) The combination of back and abdominal muscles working together DOES squeeze your guts inwards.

(3) That inward squeeze creates both an upward and a downward push.

(4) The downward push is resisted in some way (unless you are intending to defaecate).

(4) The upward push encounters the diaphragm, which is a membrane dividing the upper part of your guts from the thorax, which contains the lungs.

(5) The diaphragm is also a muscle, and like all muscles, it is either relaxed or flexed to some degree.

(6) If the diaphragm is relaxed, the upward push MOVES it upwards and expels air from the lungs.

(7) This is normal blowing.

(8) BECAUSE the diaphragm is also a muscle, it has a function when it flexes: and that function is to draw air into the lungs.

(9) If you have no air in your lungs, the diaphragm is dome-shaped: roughly speaking, the (roughly circular) bottom edge of the dome is attached to your body frame, and the middle bit is higher.

(10) The diaphragm draws air into the lungs by flexing. This flexion causes the diaphragm to flatten, so that its dome shape becomes more disc-shaped: the top of the dome gets much closer to the bottom. This increases the volume of the thorax, and air is therefore drawn into the lungs.

(11) You can therefore imagine a normal cycle of breathing in and blowing out to consist of:

IN:
(a) The diaphragm flexes and flattens to draw air into the lungs;
(b) As the diaphragm flattens, it pushes the guts down;
(c) The guts expand outwards, pushing the relaxed abdominal and (perhaps) back muscles outwards.
OUT:
(a) The abdominal and back muscles flex and push the guts inwards;
(b) The diaphragm relaxes and is pushed up by the upward push of the guts:
(c) The thorax is reduced in volume and the air in the lungs is pushed out.

(12) There is however a special case of blowing where the first part of OUT(b) isn't true. In this special case, known as blowing with support, the diaphragm doesn't relax completely.

(13) What that means is that the upward push of the guts is resisted by the diaphragm, which continues to push down to some extent. The 'support' in (12) is this downward push.

(14) Therefore, in this case, the effect of the abdominal and back muscles is lessened; the air in the lungs is pushed against to a smaller extent.

(15) You can get this smaller push on the air in the lungs EITHER by blowing normally, but less; OR by blowing with support, with the amount less being equal to the support.

Tony



Post Edited (2008-09-19 13:38)

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2008-09-19 13:54

Thinking more about it, I've come to the conclusion that the bit that I haven't yet emphasised enough is probably the sentence:

(9) If you have no air in your lungs, the diaphragm is dome-shaped: roughly speaking, the (roughly circular) bottom edge of the dome is attached to your body frame, and the middle bit is higher.

...especially the middle bit of the sentence: "the (roughly circular) bottom edge of the dome IS ATTACHED TO YOUR BODY FRAME".

What that means is that the downward push of the diaphragm is a REAL support, because it's attached to something FIXED.

When I made the 'painting' analogy, I said that you RESTED YOUR LEFT ELBOW ON SOMETHING before using your left arm as a support. Therefore, it's a REAL support, because it's resting on something fixed.

When I said the table 'supports' the weight of the turkey, the table rests on the floor, and the floor is fixed; therefore, that's a REAL support, too.

Does that help?

Tony



 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-19 19:27

I took a break here...I didn't expect the response. It will take a few days to digest this. I will get back to this on Sunday. BUT....this quote is still pretty unconventional unless you are qualifying a lot of these terms.
"You can play perfectly well at any dynamic without using support, the model being what you do when you play fff. To do it at a lower dynamic, you just blow less" This seems very close to saying "you don't need to support" when playing the clarinet just blow. I realize that one can match sounds/timbres by imitation without putting into words what you are doing but to deny you consciously or unconsciously use support when playing doesn't make sense. I am dividing things into two parts....conscious of the technique or oblivious/unconscious of the technque. The results are another matter. Your quote deals with techniques for achieving an end. How do we do it. "using" is your word... You may distinguish between awareness and consciousness but to what end? There is no question....we use support when we play the clarinet.....I assume you are not denying it but it does seem that way. I guess I'm not sure why you are breaking this down to a more complex procedure. Moreover if "You can play perfectly well at any dynamic without using support" there must be something else that replaces support . 5+3=8 You cannot replace the 3 with 0 and still get 8 for the answer.

Freelance woodwind performer

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-19 20:43

A short question about the FFF model; Is it a given that the tone will be a good model since students have a tendency to overblow and not keep the embouchure firm. The tone could be raucous? Certainly this wouldn't be a good model.

Freelance woodwind performer

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2008-09-19 20:44

First of all, I hope that there are a few people in addition to yourself and myself who are following this thread. Perhaps I am unusual in wanting to understand how the fundamentals of my playing work, as well as being able to play; but there must be others who have the same aspiration.

I always found it embarrassing not to be able to explain properly to my students how support works. So when I found out (a) how it does work; and (b) that it was what I and other good players had been doing all along without realising, it struck me with revelatory force.

And, thank you for being willing to go on engaging with this. When I didn't understand your final batch of questions last night, and replied with gobbledegook, it was just that I was tired and couldn't face trying to imagine what you could possibly mean.

But that, of course, is the job: to persist until we find out what assumptions we are making about the situation that prevent us from understanding each other.

You write:

>> Tony says:
Quote:

"You can play perfectly well at any dynamic without using support, the model being what you do when you play fff. To do it at a lower dynamic, you just blow less."
>> This seems very close to saying "you don't need to support" when playing the clarinet; just blow...to deny that you consciously or unconsciously use support when playing doesn't make sense.>>

Well, let's look at WHY it doesn't make sense to you.

What I say is that playing the clarinet uses all sorts of techniques, and that 'support' is one of them. It may very well be true that I use support more of the time in my playing than I don't use support; but I still maintain that there are passages where support isn't NECESSARY.

It may even be true that MOST good clarinet players use support more of the time in their playing than they don't use support; but I STILL maintain that there are passages where support isn't necessary. In fact, just the notion that we can use a variety of degrees of support to advantage in different passages implies that very little support (or no support) is at least a possibility.

When you fully understand that support is diaphragmatic resistance to blowing, then that becomes a commonplace statement of fact.

>> I am dividing things into two parts....conscious of the technique or oblivious/unconscious of the technique.>>

First of all, we have to separate the words 'oblivious' and 'unconscious'.

For at least the first third of my professional career I was both oblivious and unconscious of support.

I was oblivious of it because I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT IT WAS. I heard the word 'support' used, and even used the word 'support', but I really didn't understand what it meant. I think that that's the case for many very able clarinet players. THEY don't really understand the word 'support' either. You can tell that from the things that even the best of them write in books. But don't get me wrong -- that doesn't mean that they don't USE support, and even use it very elegantly, in many cases probably more elegantly than me.

So I, like them, was using support without understanding it.

Then, I came to understand it, and so was no longer OBLIVIOUS of it. But my understanding of it revealed that, in a very surprising way, 'support' can be said to be 'unconscious'. That's so because the diaphragm, unlike most of the muscles that we can use INTENTIONALLY, has no sensory nerves in it; so that we can't tell directly that we're using it. (I won't go on about that here, because I've described it already three or four times, but especially clearly I think, in (AGAIN!!):

http://test.woodwind.org/Databases/Klarinet/2008/01/000124.txt)

So then I understood in what sense it is unconscious. That understanding made it possible for me to choose to play passages with varying degrees of support. No longer was I using it at random.

I found that the understanding simplified playing for me. If you like, it was one mystery less.

>> There is no question....we use support when we play the clarinet.....I assume you are not denying it but it does seem that way.>>

So, what I'm saying is, YES, there is a question. The question is, "How much support shall we use here? None, a little, or a lot?"

Get it??-)

>> Moreover if "You can play perfectly well at any dynamic without using support" there must be something else that replaces support.>>

Actually, no.

>> 5+3=8 You cannot replace the 3 with 0 and still get 8 for the answer.>>

But the appropriate two equations here are:

8 (blow) - 3 (support) = 5 (effect) [because the support REDUCES the blowing]

Replace the 3 with 0, and blow less:

5 (blow) = 5 (effect)

Tony



 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2008-09-19 20:48

Arnoldstang wrote:

>> A short question about the FFF model; Is it a given that the tone will be a good model since students have a tendency to overblow and not keep the embouchure firm. The tone could be raucous? Certainly this wouldn't be a good model.>>

All I meant was that when you're playing as strongly as possible you don't use support.

What you have to get is that support REDUCES THE EFFECT of a given blowing strength.

Tony

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-19 22:12

I understand the "Reduces The Effect" but you have used the term "model" frequently. ..I will read and study your writing more.
Thanks from myself and hopefully others who are reading this. I realize I am the designated "Blethering Idiot" talking with you. I use terms in a layman fashion and I am sure this causes problems. There is no doubt people distort the meanings of many terms. It would be even easier if it were obscure terms but it is the simplest of words that cause problems. Beyond being the "Blethering Idiot" I have meandered and roamed through this subject matter without paying enough attention to understanding you. This is probably pretty common in communication anyway. People talk/write better than they listen. I am most astounded at your dogged determination and patience in dealing with me.
Finally back to the numbers again. 8-3=5 How do we achieve 8-0=5 If we keep the blow the same....8....You frequently say we keep the blow the same and achieve different daynamic levels. This is expressed by 8+ X=5 X cannot be -3 , 5+0=5 is OK but it is a different blow.

Freelance woodwind performer

Post Edited (2008-09-19 22:29)

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2008-09-19 23:15

A few posts back I made 16 statements labelled (0) to (15).

Just read them and tell me which of them you have trouble with.

Tony

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-20 05:16

There is lots here....let's start with #0 It's interesting you started with 0.
(0)" When you blow, you use your back and abdominal muscles simultaneously" What is done here? Are we flexing these muscles? Making them longer or shorter? Also what happened to the famous intercostal muscles that I thought were so important in this process?
On another matter I would like to say my main impetus for dealing with Tony on this topic of support was my own experience on flute that coincided with his thoughts. I had heard no one else voice this idea before. As I was playing long tones it was my observation that when I increased what I thought was abdominal support the dynamic diminished. This "support" as a negative was a revelation to me. My own technique was to counterbalance this negative with more blowing. Using different amounts of support was not a concern initially but Tony Pay writings got me experimenting with this. It's an ongoing learning process.

Freelance woodwind performer

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: cigleris 
Date:   2008-09-20 07:22

Hi Arnoldstang and Tony

I've been following these discussions with interest. Arnoldstang, it now makes sense to me as in your previous posts I was getting a little lost with some of the things you were saying as Tony explains these fundamental aspects of clarinet playing extremely well. Were you perhaps refering to the flute all the time in your responses? I'm no flute player but I understand from collegues that there is a slight difference as the differing resistance you get from a reed instrument is not there. As I understand it, you need to provide this a lot more in order to keep the sound 'stable'. Though as you 'train' the diaphragm to help with the overblowing process in flute playing the same thing occurs as Tony has mentioned in that you can instinctively change the amount of opposing force or 'support' for certain situations whilst keeping the 'blowing' the same.

Peter Cigleris
http://www.calarecords.com/acatalog/info_CACD77015.html
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/english-fantasy/id594011840

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2008-09-20 17:43

John wrote:

>> Tony said:
Quote:

(0) "When you blow, you use your back and abdominal muscles simultaneously"
>> What is done here? Are we flexing these muscles? Making them longer or shorter? >>

It's very good that you started at the beginning like this, because it immediately shows that there's an important fact that you don't know -- probably nobody ever told you clearly.

It's that muscles, when they flex, only ever get shorter.

The clearest example is the biceps: you can actually see them get shorter when they flex, because they bunch up as you do a barbell or dumbbell curl.

But that muscles can only work in one direction has an important consequence for us. It explains why muscles very almost always come in opposing pairs, like the biceps and triceps. One of the pair performs an action (bend your arm), the other the opposite action (straighten your arm).

When you make the muscles of your arm stand out, like a bodybuilder, what you do is, simultaneously, try to bend your arm using the biceps, and try to straighten your arm using the triceps. The net result on your arm is zero, because the two forces cancel each other out -- but both biceps and triceps bunch up, trying to shorten.

'Blowing' -- PROPER blowing, note -- is achieved by bunching abdominal and back muscles simultaneously. These muscles have been pushed out by your guts when you breathe in, so the bunching tries to return them to their previous positions, pushing your guts in.

They don't bend or straighten your body, though, because their actions on that are equal and opposite.

>> Also what happened to the famous intercostal muscles that I thought were so important in this process? >>

My view is that intercostal muscles are a red herring in clarinet playing, whatever anyone else says. I hardly expand my chest at all when playing the clarinet, so intercostal ('between the ribs') muscles don't come into it. The only time I expand my chest is when I have to take a HUGE breath; and when I do that I still do my blowing via abdominal and back muscles.

The realisation that muscles can only CONTRACT when they flex explains the position with regard to the diaphragm, too. In those numerical equations, you said "X cannot be -3"; but in fact the diaphragm can only exert a NEGATIVE push upwards -- and that's because IT CAN ONLY PUSH DOWNWARDS.

Tony



 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-20 18:35

Peter, I was not referring to flute throughout this entire thread. I just happen to play oboe, flute, clar and saxophone. I try to understand the uniqueness of approach for all these instruments. From your comments I take it that you have comprehended this material. For me I see some contradiction and can't get over it. If you would, clarify the following for me. 1. How can one use FFF dynamic level as a model? If there ever was a tendency to distort a clarinet tone this would be it. 2, How can you play the clarinet perfectly well without supporting( discounting the qualification which wasn't given that this occurs only at FFF level of dyanamic. 3. If one somehow achieves a copy of the model tone and doesn't use support consciously or subconsciously, how is it achieved.? Thanks John ps also refer to my next post down.

Freelance woodwind performer

Post Edited (2008-09-20 18:51)

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-20 18:49

X cannot =-3 is from you Tony > "You can play perfectly well at any dynamic without using support" Arnstang " there must be something else that replaces support." Tony >>"Actually , no". After all this I go back to the equation 8-3=5 -3 is the support. Without altering the blow which is 8 there is no way to achieve 5 as a result unless you use support. I have already broached the subject of consciously or unconsciously regarding this and it appears this is not the solution. For those jumping in here....8=blow -3 support(always negative or 0) 5= result or as Tony refers to it as Play. The alternative is 5+0=5. This is fine except the blow is not more than the play.....a requirement of support for Tony. It is of course obvious in the equation.

Freelance woodwind performer

Post Edited (2008-09-21 02:37)

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-20 18:54

Peter, FFF on the flute is just as bad as FFF on the clarinet in my view. Both need tempering.

Freelance woodwind performer

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-20 19:49

Tony "OK, let me rephrase that. You can play perfectly well at any dynamic without using support, the model being what you do when you play fff. To do it at a lower dynamic, you just blow less. " Here we have it again.....no support at FFF and no support at other dynamic levels. I have ruled out that subconsciouly you are adding support....in any case , it isn't necessary. We can play the Mozart Concerto wilthout any support and it will be fine. How do we do this? Peter?

Freelance woodwind performer

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: cigleris 
Date:   2008-09-20 19:51

Arnoldstang wrote:


> If you would, clarify the following for me. 1. How can one use FFF dynamic level as a model? If there ever was a tendency to distort a clarinet tone this would be it. 2, How can you play the clarinet perfectly well without supporting( discounting the qualification which wasn't given that this occurs only at FFF level of dyanamic. 3. If one somehow achieves a copy of the model tone and doesn't use support consciously or subconsciously, how is it achieved.?

Ok, i'll try and add my thoughts on this.

1. I don't think you can use FFF as a model for clarinet tone. Try thinking in more of a MF dynamic, that way you can really hear the sound. For me beauty of sound is the most important aspect to clarinet playing. FFF certainly makes the tone unstable. Woodwinds can play loud but there is a point where you cannot really go any further for fear of sounding tasteless. That sort of volume is best left to the brass players in big Mahler Symphonies for example.

2. Because, as Tony has explained, when you breathe in (from as low down as possible) your diaphragm naturally goes down, if you conciously push down, like when you move your bowels this allows the bottom of the rib cage (just above the kidneys) to expand thus allowing the lungs to fully fill with air. Supporting for me helps me round out my sound and achieve a legato in combination with the fingers. I also use it for the 'Magic Diminuendo' which Tony explained to me what sems like a long time ago now. I also use support when playing accents, this is like a sudden tensing that speeds the air for the particular accent. I use the same type of thing for FP cresc but keep the support right through to the end of the cresc.

3. I think I may have answered that in number 2.

I hope that helps you. I find this very interesting because I take blowing so very much for granted now that I sometimes forget how to explain it to my young students when they may be struggling.

Peter Cigleris
http://www.calarecords.com/acatalog/info_CACD77015.html
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/english-fantasy/id594011840

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: cigleris 
Date:   2008-09-20 20:28

John,

I don't think you can play the Mozart without some support or any other concerto for that matter.

Quote,

"Here we have it again.....no support at FFF and no support at other dynamic levels."

I'm not sure what you mean by this. You do need support at FFF and more because at that dynamic your simply blowing your guts out. You can also support at much softer dynamics, that's the concept of the 'Magic Diminuendo'.

In Trio the other day I was thinking about your posts of support and non support whilst we rehearsed the Canteloube Trio. What I found is that when I didn't use support (and I can't speak for my collegues) the sound had a slight transparency which perhaps was the sound I was looking for in that particular passage. The same passage came again, though was slightly different in the oboe melody and I found myself using support because myself and the bassoon were playing an octave lower and the use of support made that 3 part chorale very rich in timbre. My point is that the use of support can be used in different musical situations and I would certainly use support when playing the basset notes in the Mozart Concerto for example.

Peter Cigleris
http://www.calarecords.com/acatalog/info_CACD77015.html
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/english-fantasy/id594011840

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2008-09-20 21:36

I'm afraid I don't have time to sort out the misconceptions of -- now -- two of you at the moment. Have fun.

Tony

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: cigleris 
Date:   2008-09-20 22:12

Hi Tony

Have I missed something? [huh]

Peter Cigleris
http://www.calarecords.com/acatalog/info_CACD77015.html
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/english-fantasy/id594011840

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-20 22:57

Peter, what you were disagreeing with were concepts of Tony. No doubt I have misconceived this but here they are....""You can play perfectly well at any dynamic without using support, the model being what you do when you play fff. To do it at a lower dynamic, you just blow less." I countered this with >> Would it be true to say "without using support" could have been expressed....."without using conscious support". This seems to be more in line with your other thoughts. I'm not trying to poke holes here just getting it right. thanks. >>Tony responded

"I did mean "without support", in fact " I have no problem with varying the amount of support . Tony goes from saying"You can perfectly well etc" to
"What I say is that playing the clarinet uses all sorts of techniques, and that 'support' is one of them. It may very well be true that I use support more of the time in my playing than I don't use support; but I still maintain that there are passages where support isn't NECESSARY" If this isn't backtracking I don't know what is. He more or less says you don't need it but you do need it. As I have stated he didn't qualify the orginal statement which was "You can play perfectly well" Perfectly well is not perfectly well if you are playing the Mozart Concerto. Beyond all this Tony admits to hardly using the Intercostal muscles when breathing in(except for very long phrases or really loud playing). His blowing is tied directly to supporting as he taken the high breathing out of the picture. Even with said he still admits he separates blowing and support. I don't see how he does this with only low breathing.
Going back to the orginal quote Tony uses the words"what you do" when you play FFF. If you aren't using the FFF as a tonal model but just using "what you do" then it appears he doesn't use any more support than you do for FFF than softer dynamic levels. He says no support.....no support.... consciously or otherwise...in fact no support. How do you reconcile all of this?
I have no problem with blowing, supporting, varying the amounts of support and finally making the application of support second nature. It is all the talk of supporting but not supporting that has me tied in knots.

Freelance woodwind performer

Post Edited (2008-09-21 02:19)

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-20 23:21

Since I just picked up on this wrinkle, I thought I would reiterate it..... Tony stated " You can play perfectly well at any dynamic without using support, the model being what you do when you play fff." The operative words here are "what you do". It doesn't mean that you use the FFF as a tonal model but more the technique model. It still doesn't help me much. He's not employing support for this FFF note and he admits not consciously or unconsciously using support at different dynamic levels. ....just alter the blow.

Freelance woodwind performer

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-21 02:49

If Tony gets to this, here a point I wish to make....... Arnoldstang
>> There is no question....we use support when we play the clarinet.....I assume you are not denying it but it does seem that way.>>
Tony Pay
So, what I'm saying is, YES, there is a question. The question is, "How much support shall we use here? None, a little, or a lot?"

This use of language is dodging the question. When I said there is no question, Tony"s response only refers to another question. ie The questions here are #1 Do we use support when we play the clarinet?
#2 How much support shall we use here? Different questions! In fact Tony's question presupposes my first question's validity.

Freelance woodwind performer

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Liquorice 
Date:   2008-09-21 07:12

Peter- I think you've actually missed Tony's point.

When we play the clarinet there are two OPPOSING forces:
blowing- which is done with the abdominal and back muscles
support- which is done with the diaphragm

Peter, when you write about using "support" to produce accents or fp crescendo I think you actually mean you are using "blowing".

Regarding the "fff model": we have these two opposing forces- blowing/support. If you were to blow as strongly as possible (abdominal/back muscles) using no opposing diaphragm strength (support), then you would be playing fff (or louder?!)

If you blow less hard with no support you will get a quieter dynamic. So it is theoretically possible to play all dynamics with little or no support. I don't think that anybody is advocating this way of blowing as an ideal way of playing the Mozart concerto (for example), but the point is that it is possible.

John- do you disagree with anything I've written?

I do have a question for Tony:
I understand that it is possible to play at the same dynamic level using different levels of support. I'm also aware in my own playing that, especially when playing in the softer dynamic levels I sometimes use a high level of support because of the way that it effects the sound quality. In your explanation of why we use support your point is that it allows us to have greater control over the amount of air entering the instrument. But do you know why it effects the sound quality? Thanks.

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2008-09-21 07:19

Thanks, Liquorice.

As I said, I have no time at the moment, but I'll get back to you when I do.

Tony

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Liquorice 
Date:   2008-09-21 08:03

Thanks Tony. It would be great to hear from you again when you do have time.

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: clarnibass 
Date:   2008-09-21 09:50

Tony, I thought I'd post to say I am also following this thread. Actually, it was like a free lesson  :) I think I was in pretty much the same situation you described, of hearing about 'support' but it was never really clear. I think most who said that used it in the confusing/wrong way that Arnoldstang mentioned in his first post. So obviously I had no idea if I used it or not. I thought the painter comparison was especially good  :)
I think the way some people use the word when they say "play with support" is really just "blow good" (that's what I could come up with in English).

Now I realize that I sometimes use support but I think not much at all. I also have a question. What would you say the difference between different amounts of support (from none to a lot) is (in sound or any way you think/hear there is a difference), for the same volume?
Then, how do you choose how much support (again from none to a lot) to use for a specific place? I mean, what the difference will be between your choice and other possibilities, and why that result is specifically better in that place. If you give an example then it's better to give an idea of an example, since I am not going to remember some random place even from a famous piece...  :)

You don't need to post that you will get back to when you have time, I'm just going to hope you will  :)

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2008-09-21 10:18

This (in an airport) is to address the question that liquorice and Nitai both are interested in: namely, why does the sound change (if it does) when we use different amounts of support for the same dynamic?

From time to time I've thought about this. Theoretically, there should be no difference on just one note, because what happens in the mouth is surely unaffected by how the air pressure is produced; but, like liquorice, I do find that there seems to be a difference.

I suppose that I've come to think that it's an illusion, caused by the fact that I usually imagine the sound I want BEFORE I go about making it. So, if I want a concentrated piano or pianissimo, I imagine high air pressure coupled with a small tube -- so small mouth volume. That is a 'non-relaxed' stance, and goes well with the 'non-relaxed' support stance (your abdominal muscles are more tense when you play with support).

I notice that if I want tension in my sound -- say in the big F# crescendo in Abime des Oiseaux -- I find it helps to create tension in my body too. The trick, of course, is to be able to relax again afterwards; in the case of the Messiaen, so as not to interfere with the fluency of the bird music. But I take the position that CHOSEN tension isn't counterproductive. We just mustn't be at the mercy of it in general. (So I'm not worried by the fact that my RH2 has a mark on it after playing Abime:-)

So probably I just automatically associate support with precision and concentration, so it comes as a package.

The other thing that strikes me to say is that of course, PERCEIVED sound isn't just the quality of a single note. It includes the quality of the transitions between notes. And when I play with support, I think I get much more precise transitions (because the opposition helps the legato to be much smoother) and therefore the quality of the passage seems more intense.

Whoops! Aeroplane:-)

Tony



 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-21 18:58

Clarnibass, Arnoldstang wrote " Mr Pay uses the term "Blow" to include the technique of support.>>
Tony Pay responded..
"No, exactly not. " =NO End of quote. The problem I have here is just getting the very basics out of the way. Tony really doesn't even admit to using support. He goes all around it. Tony says
"You can play perfectly well at any dynamic without using support, the model being what you do when you play fff. To do it at a lower dynamic, you just blow less." I countered this with >> Would it be true to say "without using support" could have been expressed....."without using conscious support". This seems to be more in line with your other thoughts. I'm not trying to poke holes here just getting it right. thanks. >>Tony responded

"I did mean "without support", in fact " People who are not actively participating in this discussion no doubt take my questions to be so obvious...but when I ask whether you use support consciously or unconsciously in your playing and get NO for an answer it should raise eyebrows. Perhaps the question should be "Is the resultant tone supported?"
Tony does use the words "perfectly well" ...I really don't know what this is. If perectly well is unsupported (resultant) then it isn't saying anything other than you can blow at different dynamics in an unsupported fashion.
Even when you use the phrase "blow good" one can see you are consciously employing something to make it good. This is counter to Tony"s approach of "teaching your diaphragm" It seems to me that support is achieved in varying amounts by both conscious and unconscious approaches. Tony denies both.

Freelance woodwind performer

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: rdc 
Date:   2008-09-21 19:34

I'm a new poster to the Clarinet Bulletin Board. I have followed this thread with great interest and hope the following comments are clear.

Can the clarinet be played effectively without support? Tony Pay’s definition of support, “diaphragmatic resistance to blowing,” is succinct and true, but it points up a distinction we make between “blowing” and “support” that is not quite accurate. Rather than two separate things, what we think of as “support” could better be viewed as a subset of “blowing.” We could call it “effective blowing” or “excellent blowing.”

It is the nature of “diaphragmatic resistance” that makes me think this. The diaphragm (as is true of all muscles) can contract (or flex), bringing air into the lungs, or it can relax, expelling air from the lungs. If it remains contracted, no movement of air can take place. Air leaving the body implies that the diaphragm is moving (relaxing). Diaphragmatic resistance when blowing or supporting, then, is not “maintaining diaphragmatic contraction,” but rather, it is “slowing the rate of diaphragmatic relaxation” in order to set up a resistance to the abdominal push. Within the overall concept of a slowly relaxing diaphragm, more air blown means that the diaphragm is relaxing less slowly, and less air that the diaphragm is relaxing more slowly.

This seems to be not the case because proper blowing with diaphragmatic resistance (support!) sets up what feels like an equilibrium between the abdominal push and the resistance to that push. Air can be blown for quite a while before subsidence of the abdominal expansion-proof that the diaphragm is indeed relaxing-can be felt or seen.

Blowing (and support) means that the air is being put under pressure, and diaphragmatic resistance (slowly relaxing diaphragm) is the most efficient way to do this in terms of both consistency of air pressure delivered to the reed and the length of time this consistent pressure can be sustained. One can take a full breath and blow out all of the air very rapidly if no resistance is offered, that is, with mouth open and diaphragm relaxing as quickly as possible. Attempting to do this while playing the clarinet is also possible, but if the diaphragm is relaxing rapidly (offering no resistance), the only resistance to the abdominal push of the air would be that of the mouthpiece-reed set up. Tone can be sustained for only several seconds this way, until the air pressure drops when its speed can no longer be maintained. Even in fff playing, when the diaphragm is relaxing most rapidly, I believe it is still resisting the abdominal push somewhat if any consistency of blowing is to be realized.

Blowing is pressurizing the air by the use of diaphragmatic resistance to the abdominal push. Support as we think of it (which is also “blowing”) is using the range of diaphragmatic resistances that will give us the most effective results in terms of quality, response, and duration of tone, and the realization of the musical phrase.



 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2008-09-21 19:37

John, I think I need to stop you in this line of speculation. I thought Liquorice made the matter quite clear, but as where I am has a good Internet connection, I can do it myself.

Because many people think that 'support' is equivalent to blowing -- so that 'support' is necessary in order to play the clarinet -- I need to make it clear that although I and others USE support more or less all the time, it ISN'T necessary to use support to play very many things on the clarinet.

First of all, it isn't necessary to use support to play a good note on the clarinet; and second, it isn't necessary to use support to play evenly a sequence of notes that have very similar responses on the clarinet.

I am not trying to demean the use of support. I am simply trying to explain what it IS; and one of the consequences of what it is, is the truth of the previous paragraph. So, if you understand me, then you'll see why I want to explain all the ramifications of what support is. It's a sort of CHECK on my readers, to see whether they've understood me.

You seem to me to be hung up on this FFF thing. Okay, let's make it look less violent, and make the situation more particular. I say that, when you want to play a very loud note, mostly you don't need to use support to do so. Why? Because support, although it has other benefits in clarinet playing, simply serves in this situation to reduce the dynamic. It doesn't make the note any BETTER.

And that's true of playing an isolated quieter note, too. If you don't want to take advantage of the other benefits of support, then that quieter note can be played without support too.

BUT, all this is beside the point, really, which is to explain what support IS.

By the way, 'perfectly well' doesn't mean, both 'well' and 'perfectly'. It means, 'adequately'. So if I say, I usually pour tea with my right hand, but I can do it perfectly well with my left hand, it means that I can do it ADEQUATELY with my left hand.

It is beginning to seem that you have an agenda here which is not that of understanding what I am saying. It is that of trying to make out that I don't know what I'm talking about.

I'm sorry, but that won't work. First, I do know what I'm talking about; and second, you don't.

I had hoped that the situation was different with regard to your attitude, which is why I continued to talk to you; but I'm afraid I've changed my mind.

Tony



 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-21 21:03

Tony, I must admit I was quibbling, quibbling, quibbling about the smallest of details. I was not quibbling about the content but the way it was expressed. I know you choose words very carefully so I felt going after the exact meaning would be fine. My last responses involved other people and it may have come across I was trying to discredit you but I was just venting my frustration with our communication. I was more looking for responses from other people to clear up my problems than discrediting you.
As far as me having an agenda.....it was to communicate and discuss. I would encourage others to continue this thread with Tony. I will bow out as Tony has been offended. As Tony responded , "First, I do know what I'm talking about; and second you don't" Tony is absolutely correct here, I don't know what he is talking about". sarcasm not intended.

Freelance woodwind performer

Post Edited (2008-09-21 21:17)

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: cigleris 
Date:   2008-09-21 21:27

Thank you Liquorice,

just going over it again it seems I had missed the point. Why I did i'm not sure about, but there we are, it happens.

Apologies Tony if you felt I just jumped in with nothing to add.

Peter Cigleris
http://www.calarecords.com/acatalog/info_CACD77015.html
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/english-fantasy/id594011840

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2008-09-22 07:26

Arnoldstang wrote:

>> I will bow out as Tony has been offended. >>

No, don't do that. I wasn't offended, I was just saying what it looked like to me. And one of the reasons I'm going on with all this is that I don't want you to need to say, "I don't know what I'm talking about." I think you're rather ready to say that of yourself.

I want you to be able to say that you DO know what you're talking about, when we get to the point that you do understand!

Tony

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2008-09-22 13:55

rdc wrote:

>> Rather than two separate things, what we think of as “support” could better be viewed as a subset of “blowing.” We could call it “effective blowing” or “excellent blowing.” >>

Just to start with, of course it doesn't really matter how we use words, provided we make it clear how we are using them. But there are advantages and disadvantages to any particular use, and though I agree that 'blowing with support' is a subset of blowing, and even agree that in the majority of cases 'blowing with support' is the best way to go about playing a particular passage, I continue to maintain (contra you in what you say in the remainder of your post) that in some simple sorts of playing there is no particular way in which blowing with support is 'excellent', or could be said to be 'effective', over blowing without support.

There would be no particular harm done if someone were to blow with support in ALL cases. I go on talking about the possibility of blowing without support because its existence seems to be difficult for some people to accept; furthermore, I find that the REASON that that they can't accept it is very often rooted in their misunderstanding of some of the basic concepts needed to understand support.

With respect, I would include you amongst those people, as I shall explain.

One of your first explanatory sentences shows where the trouble lies. You write:

>> The diaphragm (as is true of all muscles) can contract (or flex), bringing air into the lungs, or it can relax, expelling air from the lungs. >>

The first part of the sentence, about flexion of the diaphragm bringing air into the lungs is true; but the second part is misleading, if not wrong.

The reason that air is expelled from the lungs when we breathe normally is that in the absence of the action of the diaphragm (in its role as a muscle), the elasticity of our guts pushes back against the diaphragm (in its role as a membrane), and so it rises and expels the air. The force involved comes not from the relaxing of the diaphragm itself, but from the energy stored in the process of compressing the guts, and pushing out the abdominal and (perhaps) back muscles, that the diaphragm drives when we breathe in.

Consider what happens when we try to put more rubbish in the trashcan than it wants to hold. We push down on what's already in there, looking to create space for our extra rubbish -- and in fact that works to create space until we stop pushing -- but then it springs back up again, and we're no better off. It's the upward force occasioned by the release of energy stored in the compressed rubbish that defeats us.

People unschooled in elementary science often find the word 'force' difficult to use. It seems odd to them to talk of the FORCE exerted by a feather on a table, for example. Similarly, it seems odd to talk of the forces involved in something seemingly so UNFORCEFUL as our relaxed breathing out after a deep sigh. Nevertheless, that's the way the language of science works.

You write:

>> If [the diaphragm] remains contracted, no movement of air can take place.>>

This is another misconception about forces -- namely, that when they are operating, they cannot be overcome. But if you and I armwrestle, and you are stronger, then I can be exerting all the force I can muster as you bend my arm back to the table. (In passing, a better word than 'contracted' here is 'flexed' -- otherwise all you're saying is that if a muscle doesn't move, it doesn't move:-)

>> Air leaving the body implies that the diaphragm is moving (relaxing). >>

Again, no: that the diaphragm is moving doesn't mean that it is relaxed, as in the armwrestling example.

>> One can take a full breath and blow out all of the air very rapidly if no resistance is offered, that is, with mouth open and diaphragm relaxing as quickly as possible. >>

One of the important reasons why support is useful is that a muscle like the diaphragm can relax practically instantaneously, whereas it takes a little time to build up to its maximum force. So I would write rather:

"...that is, with mouth open and diaphragm RELAXED."

>> Attempting to do this while playing the clarinet is also possible, >>

Rather, "Doing this while playing the clarinet is also possible,"

>> ...but if the diaphragm is relaxing rapidly (offering no resistance), the only resistance to the abdominal push of the air would be that of the mouthpiece-reed set up.>>

Yes.

>> Tone can be sustained for only several seconds this way, until the air pressure drops when its speed can no longer be maintained.>>

This statement just isn't true. The sustainable length depends only on the dynamic involved and the precise details of the reed/mouthpiece setup. You do need to make sure that you're not letting more air through the reed/mouthpiece than you need, but that management has nothing to do with the diaphragm.

>> Blowing is pressurizing the air by the use of diaphragmatic resistance to the abdominal push.>>

No, blowing is pressurizing the air by the use of the abdominal push. Diaphragmatic resistance reduces the effect of a given abdominal push, but is a great help in its precise control.

Tony

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-22 14:01

Wow, Thank you Tony. I was just about to turn my attention back to the nuts and bolts that I have trouble with . Here is one problem for me. If we " breathe in" using low breathing (which you advocate) , how is it possible not to support when blowing? It seems more common that people who breathe in" high "are the ones who don't support. Is your use of the words "not support" different than high breathing "non support"? To me it seems that collapsing of the abs with low breathing would encourage very low amounts of support and the same would be true of high breathing....collapsing the ribcage would give low amounts of support.

Freelance woodwind performer

Post Edited (2008-09-22 14:09)

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: clarnibass 
Date:   2008-09-22 14:33

Arnoldstang, after writing "blow good" I especially wrote "that's what I could come up with in English". I was hoping that what I meant was clear beyond what I wrote  :) Maybe not...?

Anyway, I have a suggestion for you that might make it clearer. Sorry in advnace if I don't use the most accurate terms since it's difficult in English. If something isn't clear let me know and I'll try to explain better (or maybe someone else can).

1. Take a (big) breath to your "stomach" (as opposed to your chest i.e. your stomach should move but your chest won't expand). Open your mouth wide and blow air out as fast as you can. Let your "stomach" just go naturally with it (it will come back in fast).

3. Take several more breaths, and each time blow it out of your mouth, the same as before (i.e. blow as fast/strong as you can), but each time close your mouth to increase the resistant, making less air come out. For example with a very small opening you just can't let the air out as fast as a big opening. Do you notice this?

4. Take another breath in the same way, and blow it out of your mouth, preferably with the mouth relatively open. Then WITHOUT changing anything in your jaw/lips/mouth/tongue/etc. take another breath. Keep your mouth the same still, and blow just as fast/strong as you did before, but also control your stomach muscles to keep your stomach out, and create resistance. The air will come out slower, in spite of your blowing the same. Do you manage to do this?

Good luck  :)

Nitai



Post Edited (2008-09-22 18:16)

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-22 16:14

Nitai, I'm impressed you're dealing with more than one language here. I can't understand it with one language. I'll get back to you on this. Thanks

Freelance woodwind performer

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-22 20:14

Yes, I have experienced this before and have commented on it. Pushing out with the stomach slows the air down ,getting a softer dynamic. Tony states 'Blowing' -- PROPER blowing, note -- is achieved by bunching abdominal and back muscles simultaneously. These muscles have been pushed out by your guts when you breathe in, so the bunching tries to return them to their previous positions, pushing your guts in." Arnoldstang... So the terms we use here for what we do with the abdominals in blowing is critical. So we must look at the words "pushing out" , flexing and bunching . This might be useful so we understand what people are doing.

Freelance woodwind performer

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: rdc 
Date:   2008-09-23 02:37

Thank you, Tony, for taking the time and patience to respond to my post even though I was so wrong about the nature of muscle relaxation. I had to think back to what happens with the biceps and triceps to grasp what you were saying, but then the light came.

If I extend my arm with the palm up, I can raise my forearm to a vertical position by contracting the biceps. But once that has happened, the relaxation of the biceps does not get my arm to extend again. It takes the opposing muscle, the triceps, to do the work. All this I knew, but the revelation came when I realized that once the contraction of the biceps has taken place, it can relax in its new position. It does not have to remain contracted.

With the diaphragm, my mistake was in thinking that it must remain in its contracted state once fully lowered. I was attributing the sensation of potential energy I feel after taking a full breath to a contracted diaphragm, rather than to what it is in fact, the "elasticity of the guts" (the opposing muscle group) that you mentioned.

I think I understand now what you mean by the difference between blowing and support. I feel that I probably most always play the clarinet with at least a minimal amount of support, but I now have the dimension of "blowing without support" to explore.

One question about "flex" vs. "contract." My American dictionary defines "flex" as "to contract (as a muscle)." I was using the two terms synonymously, but I gather from your post that "flex" has a slightly different meaning?

It can be humbling to be wrong, but the excitement of learning more than makes up for it. Thanks again.
Robert Chest (rdc)



 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-23 05:52

How many ways do we use the abdominals in playing the clarinet? 1. pushing out and firm , like a balloon gradually expanding. 2. stomach out but abs are just holding or maintaining a positon...isometric ...again firm 3. held firm . isometrically but...moving ever so gradually inward as the air is released. Tony Pay writes "'Blowing' -- PROPER blowing, note -- is achieved by bunching abdominal and back muscles simultaneously. These muscles have been pushed out by your guts when you breathe in, so the bunching tries to return them to their previous positions, pushing your guts in."

Freelance woodwind performer

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-23 06:53

Liquorice offered this
"When we play the clarinet there are two OPPOSING forces:
blowing- which is done with the abdominal and back muscles
support- which is done with the diaphragm" I would ask how do we activate these two forces? How do we blow? How do we support? Tony wrote........"Look at it like this: you flex your abdominal muscles to some small degree, and then breathe (yawn) in against that resistance. You are now prepared to play with minimal support.

Then, you flex your abdominal muscles to a greater degree, and breathe (yawn) in against that resistance. You are now prepared to play with significant support." Arnoldstang...As you can see Liquorice says blowing is done with the abdominals and Tony says we support in varying degrees with the abdominals. How would you reconcile this? It would appear blowing and supporting are the same.

Freelance woodwind performer

Post Edited (2008-09-23 07:18)

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2008-09-23 20:25

Arnoldstang wrote:

>> Liquorice offered this:
Quote:

"When we play the clarinet there are two OPPOSING forces: blowing -- which is done with the abdominal and back muscles; support -- which is done with the diaphragm."
>> I would ask how do we activate these two forces? How do we blow? How do we support?

The answer is that we blow by using our abdominal and back muscles together. We can FEEL ourselves doing this.

How we support is that we push back against the blowing, as described above, using our diaphragm as a muscle.

But, the difficulty is here made clear. We CAN'T feel ourselves doing this, because we have no direct experience of our diaphragm working. There are no sensory nerves in the diaphragm.

I haven't said this before, but it may be useful. WHY don't we have any nerves in the diaphragm?

Well, I don't really know; but I think the following is plausible:

We have nerves in muscles that can be DAMAGED. It's obviously useful for us to know that we have been damaged, and to feel pain in parts of our body that need to be looked after. All sorts of parts of our body fall into this category, and so have evolved to tell us about their situation.

But the diaphragm really doesn't. It's inside, and so not susceptible to damage. Therefore, evolution hasn't given us feedback about its behaviour.

>> Tony wrote........
Quote:

"Look at it like this: you flex your abdominal muscles to some small degree, and then breathe (yawn) in against that resistance. You are now prepared to play with minimal support.

"Then, you flex your abdominal muscles to a greater degree, and breathe (yawn) in against that resistance. You are now prepared to play with significant support."
>> As you can see, Liquorice says blowing is done with the abdominals and Tony says we support in varying degrees with the abdominals. How would you reconcile this? It would appear blowing and supporting are the same.>>

You don't SUPPORT with your abdominals, but you can know that you are supporting by HEARING that you are playing less than you could play with that amount of flexion of your abdominals.

YOU CAN'T FEEL YOUR DIAPHRAGM. Therefore, you can only know that you are using it NOW by comparing the dynamic you are producing NOW (using that amount of blow, NOW) with what you would produce normally.

Tony

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-24 05:26

Can one play with lots of support without flexing the abdominals? It certainly appears you make reference to flexing the abdominals when support occurs.

Freelance woodwind performer

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: mrn 
Date:   2008-09-24 12:54

Arnoldstang wrote:

> Can one play with lots of support without flexing the
> abdominals? It certainly appears you make reference to flexing
> the abdominals when support occurs.
>

If I'm following what Tony is saying correctly, the support comes from the OPPOSITION of inhaling (diaphragm) and exhaling (abdominal) forces. So it's like having a tug-of-war going on between the diaphragm and abdominals.

If you don't flex the abdominals, it's like one side letting go of the rope. The rope goes limp and there's no longer a tug-of-war, so no support. (In fact, you'd be inhaling, rather than exhaling) Likewise, if there's no force applied by the diaphragm, there's also no support (it's like the other side let go of the rope, so now you're exhaling without support).

In other words, it takes two (forces) to play Piazzolla with support.  ;)

Does that sound right, Tony? (obviously, this metaphor is incomplete in the sense that it doesn't explain the benefit you get out of playing with support, but perhaps it's useful for answering John's question)

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2008-09-24 13:45

Yes, that's right.

Tony

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-24 14:17

The short answer to my question would be "no". ie when you "support " the abs are flexed. Whether it is more or less than what is required to overcome something else is not my question here. I'm not trying to equate flexing the abs with the technique of support. The next question would be how do we "blow" more? Do you tighten the abs?

Freelance woodwind performer

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2008-09-24 18:03

Put it this way:

You can't play AT ALL without using your abdominal/back muscles (what I'll shorten from now on to 'a/bms') They're what pushes the air out.

(Well, I say that; but you may recall my horn playing friend who could 'suck' quite a good note on his horn:-)

So when you ask:

>> Can one play with lots of support without flexing the abdominals? >>

...then as you say, the answer must be no, because you can't PLAY without flexing the abdominals.

>> The next question would be how do we "blow" more? Do you tighten the abs?>>

The answer is yes, we use the a/bms more -- they 'squirt' the diaphragm up more.

By the way, it's only a matter of terminology exactly what you take the definition of 'support' to be. I use the term only when we are actually playing, but you could say that it's just defined by the strength of the downward diaphragm push WHATEVER THE a/bms ARE DOING.

But then, doing THAT would mean including both (1) and (2) below as cases of 'support':

(1) The first case is the possibility of the diaphragm push being stronger than the a/bms, but their still being flexed to some extent. As Mike said, then we'd be breathing IN, instead of playing. And in fact, we do sometimes breathe in in this funny way -- it's called YAWNING. When we yawn, we have our a/bms a bit flexed, and so we breathe in slower than normal. I suppose you could say that we're using support when we yawn.

(2) The second case is when our a/bms actually ARE relaxed, as they usually are when we breathe in, and the only force the diaphragm has to contend with is the elasticity of our guts, which resist being pushed around to a small extent. This case is nothing like how the word support is used in other contexts, so it seems silly to use it. (It's just the opposite of unsupported blowing, after all.)

It might be worth while pointing out that there is a further counterintuitive aspect of how we use the term support, even when we restrict it as I do to cases where we are actually playing the instrument. It is the following:

In other cases where we use the word 'support' -- say, in the 'painting with support' and 'painting without support' analogy -- the SUPPORT remains constant, and it's the OTHER action that varies. Whereas, in the case of clarinet playing, it's the BLOWING that stays constant and the SUPPORT that varies, outside consciousness.

My crazy horn-playing friend -- the one who can 'suck' the horn -- was wag enough to joke further that 'sUPport' was quite the wrong word to use anyway.

"Surely you should call it sDOWNport," he said:-)

Tony



 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-24 20:30

I need a little more clarification here...when Tony states " The second case is when our a/bms actually ARE relaxed, as they usually are when we breathe in, " Arnoldstang, Many times people are actually pushing the stomach out and expanding down low during inhalation. Are you saying here that the abs can be pushed out(stomach) yet are still relaxed?

Freelance woodwind performer

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: mrn 
Date:   2008-09-24 21:15

John wrote:

<<Many times people are actually pushing the stomach out and expanding down low during inhalation. Are you saying here that the abs can be pushed out(stomach) yet are still relaxed?>>

I don't see a contradiction here, unless I'm misunderstanding something. If the ab muscles are relaxed, but the diaphragm pushes down on the abdominal organs, wouldn't that cause the abdomen to be pushed out?

This is really making me think I should go on a diet...

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2008-09-24 22:02

Mike wrote:

>> John wrote:
Quote:

Many times people are actually pushing the stomach out and expanding down low during inhalation. Are you saying here that the abs can be pushed out (stomach) yet are still relaxed?
>> I don't see a contradiction here, unless I'm misunderstanding something. If the ab muscles are relaxed, but the diaphragm pushes down on the abdominal organs, wouldn't that cause the abdomen to be pushed out? >>

Yes, it would. I don't see the contradiction either, John. It's what I do as I inhale normally.

I wouldn't put it that I'm "pushing the stomach out", by the way. What I'm doing is "not holding it in".

(...though I know that may not be normal behaviour in ageing males, especially around attractive women;-)

Tony

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: BobD 
Date:   2008-09-25 11:35

Tony....only women clarinetists appreciate us older ageing males' weak abs.

Bob Draznik

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-25 14:40

Thanks, From what you say then, if one breathes in and keeps the abs relaxed it would be a natural occurence that the stomach goes out or is pushed out. I don't see this happening. Looking at the clarinetist from the side let's narrow the possibilities to three. 1. Stomach out (fat) 2. Stomach in medium positon 3. Stomach in (skinny) It seems that the normal state for me is #2. I have to exert force to achieve #3 or #1. It isn't relaxing for me to do this.

Freelance woodwind performer

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2008-09-25 16:13

If I breathe in with my a/bms relaxed, then I am applying a force with my diaphragm -- which I CANNOT FEEL, remember.

This force squeezes my guts and stretches my a/bms. So the process of breathing in doesn't seem a particularly 'relaxed' one for the a/bms.

Nevertheless, the a/bms are not ACTIVE. We can feel them being stretched, but that's a different thing.

Tony

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-25 17:04

Can we not just push our stomach out by "pushing our stomach out" or is it tied to the action of the diaphragm. I believe I employ this method when taking a quick deep breath on the clarinet. I consciously push the stomach out just before inhalation. It prepares the way.
Furthermore, are you agreeing with me here? I did say you can have your stomach in various positions independent of flexing the abs. My last question here is regarding the not used stomach position which is the skinny version. If we get fat by a biproduct of the diaphragm pushing down how do we get skinny without dieting.

Freelance woodwind performer

Post Edited (2008-09-25 17:10)

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-25 18:46

I'm cluing into the concept of the diaphragm only pushes down. If I'm correct here the diaphragm is a membrane or membrain(for Tony) that has a muscle. The muscle does not have a corresponding opposing muscle and so it only pushes down and I guess just relaxes and moves up in a non pushing fashion.

Freelance woodwind performer

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2008-09-26 01:04

Arnoldstang wrote:

>> I consciously push the stomach out just before inhalation. It prepares the way. >>

If you find that helps, I don't see any objection.

I'm sure that the muscles in that area are very complicated. I sidestep the whole issue by saying that we as clarinet players need to be as 'spherical' as possible in order to make the action of the diaphragm in opposition to the abdominals as direct as possible. We don't want to distort the diaphragm by pulling in; that spoils its simple dome-shaped geometry.

The muscle system that 'fattens' and 'thins' us, as far as I can tell, is pretty much irrelevant to the business of playing the clarinet. That's why teachers tell us to get rid of it at the outset by (variously) 'pushing down', 'thinking fat' and so on. Your idea of 'pushing out' fits with that; but my own version is just to allow yourself to relax and NOT PULL IN. I take a bit of time at the beginning of the 'Keepers' thread on support to underline that idea, calling it 'blowing well', and distinguishing it from the quite separate idea of support.

What you write in your subsequent post is absolutely the nub of the situation. The diaphragm functions both as a membrane and as a muscle.

Tony



Post Edited (2008-09-26 01:35)

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-26 18:35

Thanks Tony , for holding my hand so to speak throughout this entire thread. I think people use terms differently and with good reason. I point out for example the definition of "flex". As soon a teacher tells a student to flex their abs a problem has cropped up. Tony would probably say "bunch" and others would say tighten. Flex means to bend. It is one thing to tell a student to flex their arm but even that is confusing. You are bending it but people think you are flexing a muscle. A general trend is to think of flexing as tightening. It can be done with the arm straight out, half bent or completely bent. With the first example you have flexing without bending! This is contrary to the definition. Further to this the usual "show off" position of a bicep is in a bunched position, the shortest possible. If one stretches it then it is longer and tighter. This in fact would be the opposite of Tony's bunching the abs. Teachers who say tighten the abs are suggesting we lengthen the abs...again opposite to Tony. Muscles then are stretched or bunched. It's even conceivable that every one is right here. Perhaps bunching is a form of tightness as stretching is a form of tightess. I use the term flex to indicate muscle opposition which locks things into a position even though this is not the dictionary definition. The opposing forces can be small or great. Usually great would mean you are more tense. You can only flex two muscles...not just one. You have an isometric situation. The point of all this gobblygook is to put blame for this confusion on the English language as well as me.

Freelance woodwind performer

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2008-09-26 20:02

Arnoldstang wrote:

>> I think people use terms differently and with good reason.>>

Well, I'm sorry if that has contributed to the confusion.

As I said in one of the posts, I think -- one of the problems of the subject is that there is an avoidance in the literature of scientific terms like 'force' that would simplify matters if we were able to use them. And you can see why there is that avoidance: although 'forces' can be very, very small, the word has violent connotations that you want to avoid in describing the elegance and economy of excellent clarinet playing.

One fact that may have been obscured is: however long a muscle is, when it gets a signal from our brain to -- let's say, OPERATE -- it can do one and only one thing: try to shorten itself. If it fails to shorten itself, it still exerts forces on its points of attachment; if it succeeds in shortening itself, it usually moves those points of attachment, and may also exert forces on its environment as it 'bunches'.

In the case of the diaphragm, 'shortening' doesn't move its points of attachment, which are fixed; rather, the muscle flattens from its initial dome-shape and becomes more disc-shaped. Here it's the forces that are exerted on its environment that are important: the change in shape pushes down on the guts and expands the thoracic cavity so that air enters the lungs.

I have come to use the word 'flex' to stand in for the word 'OPERATE' that I used above. Perhaps that is ill-advised, as you have explained; but I was trying to avoid the word 'tense', which would have been accurate but had the wrong 'aura'.

I think this whole exchange has been very useful for me, and thank you for having it. Probably what is needed is a very detailed run-through of what is in the above paragraphs BEFORE going on to talk about support. Perhaps, even, we need to define a few terms that are out of the ordinary -- how about that word 'operate', then? -- so that the 'other' meanings of words like 'flex' don't get in the way.

Just to finish up -- do you get it, now, even if you have problems with the terminology?

Tony

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-27 00:21

I am on the way to understanding. #1 I still have a problem with your description of inhalation. You seem to negate the intercostals and their importance to inhalation. It seems to me the only way to get the diaphragm pushing down is to use the ribcage/intercostals.
#2 " That's why teachers tell us to get rid of it at the outset by (variously) 'pushing down', 'thinking fat' and so on." This " thinking fat" is different than just pushing your stomach out? Your reference to Paul Harvey without suspenders I guess is fatness generated by the diaphragm pushing down rather than muscles?
In summary, I understand how you "blow" but not your inhalation. The support we can deal with later. I certainly look at the previous posts in a different light now. Your description of "operate" meaning to only shorten muscles was a revelation.
I would suggest that "flex" might be defined as the result of signals going to opposing muscles to shorten. (could be put much better)

Freelance woodwind performer

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2008-09-27 10:24

OK, let's do #1 and #2 in the reverse order.

I find I can do the 'thinning' and 'fattening' manoeuvres, getting quite large changes of waistline, however full my lungs are. (It definitely feels, by the way, that I can be really quite 'fat' and still relaxed; if I push 'out' at that stage I can make myself only a little bit fatter.)

What's more, I can do this with my airway open -- that's to say, without blocking it as I do when I cough, for example. It may be that the diaphragm OPERATES (by increasing and decreasing its downward push, NOT by moving) so as to make that possible....but of course I can't tell....:-)

So that's the basis of my claim that this manoeuvre is irrelevant to blowing the clarinet.

With regard to intercostals, I find that my ribcage moves little, if at all, in normal clarinet playing. If I have to take an ENORMOUS breath, of course, then I expand my ribcage; but the experience of blowing afterwards is still the same as usual. If I think about it at all, I imagine the extra air available to be a sort of reserve tank that empties itself naturally as I approach the end of the breath.

I don't see why you have trouble with the idea that breathing in is doable just by diaphragm action. When we learnt a bit about the body in school biology, they demonstrated the action of the diaphragm using a couple of balloons inside a belljar. The balloons were attached to a tube open to the air through the neck of the belljar, and the bottom of the belljar was covered with a sheet of thick rubber. Pushing up on this rubber sheet deflated the balloons, and releasing it reinflated them. In this model, the belljar, representing the thorax, DIDN'T MOVE, of course.

The rubber sheet was held firmly all round the bottom of the belljar by a piece of string wound round and round -- it looked rather like the paper cover on a jar of homemade jam, but upside down. I don't know exactly how the diaphragm is attached to our ribcage, but I can imagine that it's effectively the same sort of thing.

As a model of the diaphragm the rubber sheet is defective, of course: you have to push up on it in the middle to make it dome-shaped. Whereas the diaphragm is dome-shaped when relaxed; it's when it OPERATES that it tries to pull the ribcage in, and can't, so it flattens.

Just finally, a word about muscles; you should include in your mental model of them that they can be at various lengths when relaxed. You can see this by horizontally manipulating your relaxed right arm with your left, so that it moves between being straight and being bent; the biceps change length even though they are relaxed. At any stage in that process you can try to bend your right arm against your left arm control, and watch your biceps try to shorten from whatever length they're currently at.

Tony



 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-27 14:39

I take it that the air rushes in to equalize the pressure to the outside. One problem I have here is how do we activate this process? If it is the diaphragm how do we activate it?
I certainly feel an expansion below my ribcage as I breathe in. It is rather like a stretched balloon. It seems to be a natural biproduct of breathing in. I can simulate it with my muscles as well.
Is it possible that the process is as follows.... 1. lungs expand suddenly decreasing air pressure 2.air rushes into our lungs 3. ribcage stops the apparent expansion in the top half of our bodies 4.. below the ribcage is more elastic so you get more expansion..........With this scenario the activating force is the muscles in the lung area . We can control these. With my scenario the diaphragm's push down is a result of the inhalation process but is not the activator.

Freelance woodwind performer

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Mark Charette 2017
Date:   2008-09-27 14:44

Arnoldstang wrote:

> With
> my scenario the diaphragm's push down is a result of the
> inhalation process but is not the activator.

And you'd be very wrong ...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diaphragm_(anatomy)

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-27 17:49

"During inhalation, the diaphragm contracts, " This is from that article. It doesn't say that the diaphragm contracts and then inhalation takes place. It goes on to say "the external intercostal muscles also participate in this enlargement)". It does participate. My question is to do specifically with what triggers all this. We breathe in on the clarinet very consciously. It doesn't happen by itself. If the trigger is the diaphragm, how do we activate it? If the answer is "breathing in" , this seems to beg the question. ie How do you breathe in? You use the diaphragm. How do you activate the diaphragm? You breathe in.

Freelance woodwind performer

Post Edited (2008-09-27 18:05)

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Mark Charette 2017
Date:   2008-09-27 18:03

Arnoldstang wrote:

> "During inhalation, the diaphragm contracts, " This is from
> that article. It doesn't say that the diaphragm contracts and
> then inhalation takes place.

John, the contraction of the diaphragm (it's a muscle - contraction is the only thing it can do) causes inhalation by increasing the volume of upper thoracic cavity (the diaphragm flattens when it contracts, remember?). Increasing volume of a closed cavity decreases pressure, the outside pressure wants to flow into the low pressure area,and the airway and lungs make a handy, dandy place for the outside air to come in. The lungs expand to equalize the pressure (the lungs expand in volume to essentially match the expansion of volume created by the diapragm).

There's a cause and effect. It's really, really basic physics and anatomy and that's what really happens. Read the Wikipedia article again (it's taken from an old Gray's Anatomy book, but is still accurate). If you can't get by the 1st order effects then worry about second order (intracostals, etc.) is going to be a red herring.

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-27 18:23

From the same article "It is not responsible for all the breathing related to voice, a common misconception espoused by many teachers but few great singers. One has more control over the abdominals and intercostals than the actual diaphragm, which has relatively few proprioceptive nerve endings. By training proper posture and balance in the rest of the body, the diaphragm naturally strengthens and works in concert with surrounding structures rather than in isolation" How do you reconcile this.? This seems to fall in line with my thinking.

Freelance woodwind performer

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Mark Charette 2017
Date:   2008-09-27 18:32

Arnoldstang wrote:

> How do
> you reconcile this.?

Vocal training works on a set of muscles you have control and feedback on, since it is not easy to work on the muscles you don't have feedback on. The muscles we can control are what you all have been spending a long time on in search of the meaning of "support".

If your diaphragm is paralyzed (it happens) the other muscles are barely strong enough to keep you alive.

But I don't have the patience of Tony to keep going along this line ...

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-27 18:52

I'm just working on a very basic point. How do you activate inhalation? The question(which can be construed as semantic) is "how you " activate it and not "how it is activated". I certainly am not trying to diminish the importance of the diaphragm but only trying to understand it's relevance in inhalation and clarinet pedagogy.

Freelance woodwind performer

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2008-09-27 22:14

John wrote:

>> I'm just working on a very basic point. How do you activate inhalation? The question (which can be construed as semantic) is "how you" activate it and not "how it is activated". I certainly am not trying to diminish the importance of the diaphragm but only trying to understand its relevance in inhalation and clarinet pedagogy. >>

Diaphragmatic inhalation is what we do when we keep our chests stationary and nevertheless breathe in.

Eyeballing to the left is what we do when we keep our heads still and nevertheless look to the left.

The only difference is that we can (perhaps) feel the muscles that swivel our eyes. (Actually, I can't, unless I swivel my eyes a lot, right, left, right, left...and then the muscles feel tired.) You can't feel the diaphragm.

The further question, "HOW do you activate the diaphragm?", like the question, "HOW do you tell your eye muscles to swivel your eye to the left?" is a very deep one, the explanation of which is currently engaging cognitive scientists, brain theorists, neuroanatomists, physiologists and so on. Of course, you know that.

But aside from that, I'm afraid the only simple answer is: what I do when I decide to breathe in without raising my chest is....breathe in without raising my chest; just as what I do when I decide to look left without moving my head is.....look left without moving my head.

With regard to your previous posts, as Mark has pointed out, the motion of the chest in common-or-garden inhalation is a less important aspect of breathing than is the action of the diaphragm.

And, I haven't had time to read the reference yet, but from a quick look at your quotes from it, it seems to me to be in error in its analysis of what is important in singing, even if it is accurate in other respects.

Tony

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: sdr 
Date:   2008-09-27 22:32

I can't help thinking that this discussion would be clearer if everyone had a good understanding of the relevant anatomy and physiology of breathing. Here's a great animation of diaphragm action:

http://www.yorku.ca/earmstro/journey/diaphragm.html.

There is also a link to a short bit of text on the relevance of this mechanical system to the performer.

-sdr

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: davetrow 
Date:   2008-09-28 00:13

It seems to me that even though one doesn't have much if any proprioceptive awareness of the diapragm, one can still feel what it's doing, by its effect on other parts of the body which do have sensory nerves, and this is what support is all about.

I can, for instance, take a deep breath, leave my throat open, and tighten my abdominal muscles without then exhaling. What makes that possible? Resistance from the diaphragm (its refusal to relax). True, I can't feel my diaphragm directly; what I feel is the tightness in my abdominal muscles (and my intercostals, too, I think) combined with an awareness of the lack of motion in those muscles and the fascia and skin of my chest and abdomen.

Of course, if I had to think about all that analytically, I'd be like the centipede who forgot how to walk when the frog asked him how he did it. That's why I like Tony's "magic diminuendo" as a description of what's going on.

Dave Trowbridge
Boulder Creek, CA

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2008-09-28 06:08

Steven wrote:

>> I can't help thinking that this discussion would be clearer if everyone had a good understanding of the relevant anatomy and physiology of breathing.>>

...and Dave wrote:

>> That's why I like Tony's "magic diminuendo" as a description of what's going on.>>

The idea was to present a simplified picture -- obviously I didn't simplify it clearly enough for some -- to make way for us to have a direct experience of what is, after all, itself a very simple thing.

The explanation stops you worrying about what you should DO when using support, by telling you WHY it seems to you that you do nothing.

An admittedly imperfect but perhaps relevant analogy: kids who just ACCEPT 'minus times minus equals plus' and get on with their elementary algebra very often do better than those who want an explanation that they aren't currently equipped to handle. As they learn to perform manipulations, the sense of the rule becomes more apparent.

Tony



Post Edited (2008-09-28 12:32)

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-28 16:40

My question is still how do "we " activate "inhalation" for playing the clarinet. SDR's link to the Stough Institute is very good. It deals mostly however with the involuntary action of the diaphragm. (I couldn't get the video to work. ) This is our daily shallow rhythmic breathing. When we play the clarinet we breathe in by activating something..... My concern here involves pedagogy or teaching. The student learns to hold the instrument, what to do with the embouchure , and then before any sound is made he must activate breathing in. My point here is that any mention of the diaphragm is superfluous here.
It may very well be that the diaphragm is of monumental significance to "blowing" the clarinet but that is not the issue here. I still believe the "diaphragm pushing down" is a natural biproduct of breathing in. You can't breathe in (I'm talking consciously/voluntarily) without it pushing down. Any use of the word "diaphragm" as an instruction to a student regarding inhalation is interesting but is way down the list of what should be said.
Some people allude to how straightforward this subject is. I am not of this opinion. Tony Pay takes does not agree with Arnold Jacob.(he does have a good first name!) Does this not indicate something? Also the Stough Institute dedicates itself to studying this "straightforward" subject?

Freelance woodwind performer

Post Edited (2008-09-28 16:55)

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Mark Charette 2017
Date:   2008-09-28 17:40

Arnoldstang wrote:

> I still believe the "diaphragm pushing down" is a
> natural biproduct of breathing in.

But, you are so wrong it defies logic. The diaphragm contracts and expands the lungs. Your "belief" has nothing to do with the truth, but you're allowed to believe anything you want, I guess. If the diaphragm were nothing but a membrane, you'd be right (and there would be something else helping us breathe. But you're not right, the diaphragm is a muscle, and it contracts. Try holding your breath steady next time you hiccup (that's a spasm of your diaphragm).

The diaphragm can be consciously moved down to begin inhalation, but the feedback loop (seeing the diaphragm move) isn't there. It's like blinking - you do it all the time unconsciously, and you can consciously override it.

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: davetrow 
Date:   2008-09-28 20:51

"The diaphragm can be consciously moved down to begin inhalation, but the feedback loop (seeing the diaphragm move) isn't there. "

I'd say instead that while there's a feedback loop, it doesn't involve proprioception in or direct sensory awareness of the diaphragm itself, but instead feedback from other systems affected by the diaphragm's contraction.

The diaphragm can indeed only flatten by contracting, but this does have the effect of pushing down the abdominal contents. This contraction is not, however, a "byproduct" of breathing in--it's what causes breathing in.

Didn't some clarinetist describe it in terms of having a basketball moving up and down in one's abdomen? I know Ridenour talks about "aerosol can" breathing in his attempt to describe the proper support technique.

Dave Trowbridge
Boulder Creek, CA

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2008-09-28 22:16

davetrow wrote:

>> I'd say instead that while there's a feedback loop, it doesn't involve proprioception in or direct sensory awareness of the diaphragm itself, but instead feedback from other systems affected by the diaphragm's contraction.>>

Yes -- and when the diaphragm OPERATES in clarinet playing (rather than in breathing in) the 'other system' that gives us the feedback is precisely the change of dynamic of the clarinet sound that we HEAR ourselves doing; but not FEEL ourselves doing.

Tony

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: davetrow 
Date:   2008-09-28 23:13

Tony wrote:

"...the 'other system' that gives us the feedback is precisely the change of dynamic of the clarinet sound that we HEAR ourselves doing; but not FEEL ourselves doing."

Aha! Yes, I realize now that it is the hearing of the change in dynamic that is primary. The other sensory feedback is not only much more difficult to feel (although I believe you can), but, more to the point, it is not perceived in terms of what we're doing, which is playing music. Now I understand why you call it "magic."

Thanks for the clarification.

Dave Trowbridge
Boulder Creek, CA

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-29 00:01

Mark, thanks for telling me I'm totally wrong over and over. Let us deal with the voluntary/involuntary nature of the diaphragm. I was basing what I was saying on the fact that the diaphragm is involuntary. Is it in fact like blinking? ie Something that works by itself as well as something we can control?
I would also add that your reference to the Wikipedia ariticle drew this response from Tony. " And, I haven't had time to read the reference yet, but from a quick look at your quotes from it, it seems to me to be in error in its analysis of what is important in singing,"( I think this part of the article sort of agreed with what I was saying) I hope you and Tony are not a odds here!

So there we have it.....For the purposes of clarinet playing is the diaphragm a voluntary muscle?

Freelance woodwind performer

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Mark Charette 2017
Date:   2008-09-29 01:40

Arnoldstang wrote:

> I was basing what I was saying on the fact that the
> diaphragm is involuntary. Is it in fact like blinking? ie
> Something that works by itself as well as something we can
> control?

Yes, yes. In more ways than one. You, of course can hold your breath! If it were involuntary, you couldn't. The fact that you'll start breathing (whether or not there's anything to breath) when the CO2 level reaches a certain point is involuntary. The autonomic nervous system takes over and starts inhalation.

There are a number of systems like that in the human body.

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-29 02:24

If this is the case I have no problem with the technique of inhalation with the diaphragm. It initiates the process of inhalation by pushing down , and the lungs expand. I just have not read anywhere that the diaphragm is dual functional ie. involuntary(eg. sleep) voluntary (conscious breathing in..eg. taking a full breath) I'm not being sarcastic here....does anyone know where this is authenticated?
I realize this is a little "out there" but look at this video on Youtube....The Miracle of Respiration part 6 of 7. This deals with the involuntary aspect but it is interesting that it shows the diaphragm is not the force here...it is the muscles surrounding the ribcage. It falls in line with my unpopular ideas about the importance of the ribcage muscles and the diaphragm as a follower.

Freelance woodwind performer

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Mark Charette 2017
Date:   2008-09-29 02:42

Arnoldstang wrote:

> I just
> have not read anywhere that the diaphragm is dual functional
> ie. involuntary(eg. sleep) voluntary (conscious breathing
> in..eg. taking a full breath) I'm not being sarcastic
> here....does anyone know where this is authenticated?

Why noty just Google it ... a reference (by an MD is here: http://chanteur.net/contribu/index.htm

> I realize this is a little "out there" but look at this video
> on Youtube....The Miracle of Respiration part 6 of 7. This
> deals with the involuntary aspect but it is interesting that it
> shows the diaphragm is not the force here...it is the muscles
> surrounding the ribcage. It falls in line with my unpopular
> ideas about the importance of the ribcage muscles and the
> diaphragm as a follower.

No unpopular, just wrong.

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2008-09-29 20:37

Arnoldstang wrote:

>> If this is the case I have no problem with the technique of inhalation with the diaphragm. It initiates the process of inhalation by pushing down , and the lungs expand. I just have not read anywhere that the diaphragm is dual functional ie. involuntary (eg. sleep) voluntary (conscious breathing in..eg. taking a full breath).>>

Well, then I wash my hands of you.

I don't want to bother to count how many times I've said precisely this. I pointed out several times, and right at the beginning of each of those several times, that biceps/diaphragm/heart are three different types of muscle, that go [voluntary, we feel]/[voluntary and involuntary, we don't feel]/[involuntary, we don't feel].

If you didn't believe it, YOU SHOULD HAVE SAID, instead of wasting considerable amounts of my time having me answer your inconsequential, illogical quibbling trivia.

The trouble with you is that you're not serious. You were never trying to understand, otherwise you would have read what I said more carefully, and tried to get to grips with the fundamentals of it.

Actually, I should have seen that I demean myself by answering your questions here. The very fact that I BOTHER means that I can't be right if I disagree with, say, THE GREAT ARNOLD JACOBS.

I'd say that the so-called 'definitive paper' of Arnold Jacobs is the counterpart in clarinet pedagogy of an 'alternative therapy theory' in medicine. It's got nothing to do with the science of it.

He seems to produce results, as do they. But when you look at the details, they make no sense.

That he was a great player is beside the point. (He was a great bullshitter too, you see;-)

And, I'd like to see how far you'd have got on with asking your sort of questions of HIM.

Tony



 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2008-09-29 20:59

davetrow wrote:

>> Now I understand why you call it "magic." >>

Yes, lovely, isn't it? I'm glad you like it:-)

Tony

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-29 21:08

Mark , Your suggestion to look at "Chanteur.net" is all in French and I don't see the relevance. thanks John

Freelance woodwind performer

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Mark Charette 2017
Date:   2008-09-29 23:02

Arnoldstang wrote:

> Mark , Your suggestion to look at "Chanteur.net" is all in
> French and I don't see the relevance. thanks John

I lead you to a page where, if you'd scroll through the titles just a bit, you might find a word you'd understand and was relevant. Then you'd click on that and read - IN ENGLISH - exactly what you might need.

But I give up.

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-30 01:00

This particular article sheds no light on the "diaphragm" being a voluntary muscle. I would like to say that my intentions were honest in this thread.
Thanks to all.

Freelance woodwind performer

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: vin 
Date:   2008-09-30 03:41

Tony-
For those of us who really want to get to bottom of this issue and are "serious," thank you for all the posts; they have been enormously helpful.

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Sarah Elbaz 
Date:   2008-09-30 08:01

I can add a little story about 'magic dim.'

Tony was invited several times to Clarinet Days course in Israel. During the course we have one special day for very young clarinet players (age 9-12).

One of the hits of Young Carinetist Day is the "Dancing Session" with Tony
(I think that Tony should tell why we call it the Dancing session).

Tony, of course talks with the children about magic dim. and it was always very clear to them how to do it, without understanding the anatomical side of it, only by listening to the sound.

I think that it will work with older clarinet players as well. Its important to understand and know how our body works, but when we play- it is more important to LISTEN - if it sounds right- we did it right.


Sarah

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Liquorice 
Date:   2008-09-30 14:36

I just wanted to be the person to write the 100th post on this thread. Is there a prize?!

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-09-30 18:10

I did receive a reply from the Stough Institute on this matter. It agrees with Tony et al. I think. Here it is ". I do believe the diaphragm is part involuntary and part voluntary. What is most involuntary: The diaphragm is innervated directly by the phrenic nerve, which nerve does not innervate any other muscle but the diaphragm; so, the diaphragm has its own exclusive communication with the nervous system. The phrenic nerve fires its impulse to begin an inhalation in response to a change in blood gases that is monitored in the respiratory center of the brain (carbon dioxide rising above a certain point; oxygen descending below a certain point). That reflexive response of the phrenic nerve will happen automatically, without voluntary intervention, and will carry on automatically when, for example, we are asleep or paying attention to other subjects. This ongoingness of the breathing activity, I believe, is the most involuntary aspect. It keeps carrying out its assigned activity from the first breath to the last breath of one's lifetime.

However, on the voluntary side of the argument: The diaphragm is composed of striated muscle fibers, like all other voluntary muscles in the body. While we cannot completely stop it or start it, we can have partial voluntary influence upon its timing, speed of action and fullness of excursion. It is my belief that the initial impulse of the diaphragm sets the inhalation in motion, with an almost instantaneous response of the intercostal muscles to also begin the matching expansion of the ribcage. However, it is such a smooth and inseperable coordination, it is really difficult to tell which comes first (but my vote goes to the diaphragm for the initiation, because of the reflexive connection to the phrenic nerve."
With Tony's writing I haven't found he lists his sources of information. At least here we have something to show a scientific basis that is shared by other researchers. I don't regret questioning this particular point. No one came forth with any other sources. Why shouldn't one question it? Even this source notes "almost instantaneous response of the intercostals".

Freelance woodwind performer

Post Edited (2008-09-30 20:22)

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: cigleris 
Date:   2008-09-30 18:16

Liquorice

You beat me to it!

Peter Cigleris
http://www.calarecords.com/acatalog/info_CACD77015.html
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/english-fantasy/id594011840

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2008-09-30 23:50

Arnoldstang wrote:

>> With Tony's writing I haven't found he lists his sources of information. At least here we have something to show a scientific basis that is shared by other researchers. I don't regret questioning this particular point. No one came forth with any other sources. Why shouldn't one question it? >>

Absolutely no reason why you shouldn't question it. But the point is, I STATED IT, and YOU DIDN'T QUESTION IT FOR, I DON'T KNOW, 95 POSTS. I certainly don't feel it's obvious that it needs questioning. EXPERIENTIALLY, the fact that it's true stands out a mile. So it was very unlikely that I would have guessed that that was your difficulty.

Sarah has pointed out an interesting aspect of all of this, which is that if you're willing to trust the idea, and experiment, you quickly find that it works.

All of my explanation is designed to clear the way for an adult, so that it may be PLAUSIBLE for them to trust the idea and experiment for themselves.

You're much too interested in sources. QUESTION THE SOURCES, BY TRYING FOR YOURSELF IF YOU CAN.

You said:

>> I would like to say that my intentions were honest in this thread. >>

I didn't say you weren't honest; I said you weren't SERIOUS.

I WAS SERIOUS HERE. I took you seriously. I told you when I doubted that you really wanted to understand, and backtracked when you told me that you did.

Further, I took time to try to imagine what your difficulties were. I thought long and hard about what it might be like to be you, and responded accordingly.

What finally transpired was that your engagement with our dialogue was at least an order of magnitude lower than mine. (Google 'order of magnitude'.) I was very annoyed when I found that you didn't even bother to think substantially about anything I wrote, OR EVEN READ IT.

You want to watch that. I have no idea how old you are, but it might not be too late to change your ways.

SO DO IT.

Tony

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-10-01 14:41

First, I would like to say we are again dealing with internet communication. It is very difficult to really know the person behing the words. If you don't like the word "honest"...then I'll say this...I was serious in this discussion.
Secondly, my intent here was twofold as I stated right up front.... Understand your writings and the subject. I realize my approach is to wrestle with ideas and points. I'm stubborn and not a genius. I admit to these points but I'm also willing to change my mind.
My approach deals with simplifying. Stephen Hawkings can write a book for the masses and a mechanic, bus driver etc can read it. I'm looking for the Coles Notes to clarinet breathing. Maybe that's not for you but students the world round are just Arnolds(I know you say..hopefully smarter).
You will find lots of people who agree with you., but how many can actually express your intent? They sure didn't "pop out of the woodwork on the Bulletin Board".
Regarding me not confronting the basic issue 95 posts back, The discussion was less focused back then and I skirted the issue. Frankly in dealing with you I found I had to tread lightly . Tempers flare.
In regards to the research behind techniques. It is still important. Just because something"experiental' works it doesn't mean that's a good way to teach. We're talking pedagogy here and good teaching is not....do this ...see it works. In fact your quest for knowledge about breathing is scientifically based. You went beyond the "experiental". " If it works use it "approach is not what this thread is about.
Throwing this all out the window, I am still interested in finishing this thread. Who knows it might proceed quickly. I think we have common ground on inhalation. It's up to you. Thanks

Freelance woodwind performer

Post Edited (2008-10-01 14:46)

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: cigleris 
Date:   2008-10-01 16:09

John,

In Tony's defence I have to say that I found you posts a little confusing which is why I think I lost the point.

I have really enjoyed this thread because it's made me think about my own breathing, and of course what Tony and others have been posting is very obvious. I've found this great because perhaps we as players take the fundamental things like this and then take them for granted when we feel we have 'mastered' them. It's always good to have a little MOT now and again.

Thanks Tony et al.

Peter Cigleris
http://www.calarecords.com/acatalog/info_CACD77015.html
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/english-fantasy/id594011840

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: mrn 
Date:   2008-10-01 17:57

Actually science is all about the experiential, John. That's why scientists conduct experiments. The thing that makes science different than mere anecdotal observations is in the rigorous methodology applied to setting up the experiments and interpreting the results.

Notice I didn't say anything about sources or authority or authentication. To be sure, those are important in the context of certain dialectics (especially the legal kind), but they are less important to science, per se. The primary activity in science consists of methodically verifying things yourself without blind reliance on authority. The whole point of science lies in establishing truths that can be verified by anyone with sufficient resources and that don't merely rely on the authority of some legendary teacher like Aristotle or Plato.

Simplification can be a good thing, but it can also distort truth. Oftentimes, simplified explanations create more misunderstandings than they eliminate. I noticed a few posts back that you weren't happy with my giving you an extended explanation (or analogy, rather) when you thought a yes-no answer would suffice. The problem with simply giving a yes-no answer to such a question is that it might be misleading because it doesn't give you a complete picture to allow you to make reasoned judgments for yourself. If you understand my analogy of a "tug-of-war," you can see that it not only answers your earlier question I responded to, but several others as well.

Do you know what profession always seeks very simplified explanations and expects yes-no questions to be answered only yes or no? Trial lawyers, that's who. Do you know why? It's because their job is not to establish truth, but to influence the decisionmaking of a judge or jury. Trial lawyers don't usually want judges or juries to have all the facts, because that would enable them exercise independent judgment about the grey areas of the case. Independent judgment is unpredictable. So trial lawyers carefully control (or try to control) what the judge or jury hears so as to replace complex reasoning with simple clear-cut choices. For similar reasons, they also try to exclude evidence based on whether or not it is "authenticated" or whether or not it is "hearsay"--neither of which have any bearing on whether something is actually true in real life (they only somewhat reflect how easily something can be believed--a subtle, but enormously important difference). And while I'm not a *trial* lawyer, per se, I've tried a few cases myself as a lawyer, so I know from firsthand experience that this is what happens. Politicians do the same sort of thing to win votes--perhaps that's one reason so many politicians are lawyers. (and why a lot of people dislike them both)

Discussions about the real state of the world don't benefit much from the sort of adversarial approach that goes on in a courtroom, because, as I said, that approach generates as much misinformation as information. A better approach is to do as they say in that famous Russian proverb, "Trust but verify." If a scientist has doubts about the truth of an otherwise plausible-sounding assertion, he looks for his own demonstrable refutation of the statement itself (or at least he should, since that's what scientists are in the business of doing).

But attacking the manner in which the statement was made says nothing about the validity of the statement itself. It may work in a courtroom or some other kind of credibility contest, where the objective is to determine who's going to be the winner and who's going to be the loser, but it's not very productive in a scientific or educational sense.

OK. End of lecture. :)

The only other thing I want to say is that after reading this thread I seriously envy anyone who has had the opportunity to actually take lessons from Tony. Given the degree of thought, effort, and care he put into answering John's questions and how much I've learned from his posts, I can only imagine what a great teacher he must be in person!

Thank you, Tony!



Post Edited (2008-10-01 18:47)

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-10-02 13:21

Hello Mrn, I will restrain myself from taking an adversarial approach to your post. The post is well written and thought out and doesn't throw too many poison arrows in my direction. I would say however that my approach(adversarial) has been consistent from the very beginning. In previous posts (bottom of the air column) etc. I have always had this approach. Tony has dealt with me before. Whether it is a fruitful way to proceed in discourse on this subject or not, is beside the point. If Tony didn't like it, he should have mentioned this 135 posts back.
My approach to this subject is not based in anatomy. Show me what you do and how you do it. I'll try it. The science was brought in by Mr Pay.
Again, my intentions were serious and my posts were devoid of vitriolic comments.
Respectfully

Freelance woodwind performer

 
 Re: Blowing terminology
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2008-10-02 13:53

Peter, I don't want to open any more cans of worms. However, Perhaps we could end this thread with peoples thoughts on what they do for breathing and support on the clarinet. Without going into depth or theory here, could you start us off by giving us your nutshell version.ie what you do physically with your abs, etc. do you think of pushing down, etc. I'm not trying to divide and conquer here. Just trying to open up lines of communication. Maybe a short paragraph. I won't offer any judgement. My lips are sealed and my fingers will not touch the keyboard. respectfully Arn

Freelance woodwind performer

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