Friday, February 08, 2008

Selling Musical Science

It's fascinating to watch how bits of scientific research on musical topics get picked up by the mainstream press. The latest example concerns three Australian researchers who have studied the use of vocal tract resonances in saxophone playing. Although seldom couched in scientific terms, it's no secret to teachers of wind technique that, in addition to embouchure and breathing techniques, vocal tract resonances play an important role in sound quality and range. Stuart Dempsters The Modern Trombone: A Definition of Its Idioms (1979), for example, emphasizes the importance of vocal resonances in trombone tone color. The team from New South Wales has demonstrated that altissimo range sax playing is achieved by the player tuning the second partial of their vocal tract resonance slightly above the desired pitch. What's interesting now is to read how the press treats this storu. A google on "vocal tract resonances in saxophone playing" will now turn up a long series of articles on the newly discovered secret of sexy sax playing.

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