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Author Topic: larynx postition  (Read 812 times)
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baileyman
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« on: Feb 08, 2012, 04:48AM »

Does anyone do anything consciously with their larynx?  I'm wondering if it relates to the admonition to "keep your throat open".

I stumbled on this while singing along with Mel Torme in the car.  Trying to get that "velvet fog" going I yanked my larynx down ("Yogi Bear voice") and, bingo!, there it was.  He darkened his voice pulling his larynx down like a classical singer. 

So I got to wondering about the trombone.  After practicing it a bit, it seems like there must be some change in sound.  I get a prominent "oo" in my ears from head noise when I do it, I think from the first harmonic of whatever note I'm playing.  Sometimes I get such a flurry of overtones the fundamental seems quite diminished. 

Just wondering if anyone else messes around with this. 
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« Reply #1 on: Feb 08, 2012, 09:03AM »

I did a while ago, and I concluded that, at least for me, larynx position matters much more for singing than for trombone playing. The throat and larynx should definitely be open and relaxed while playing, but my best results happen when I do not force it more open than what the natural air compression in my airway does from playing with correct technique, in particular my tongue position in my mouth. If my tongue is wrong, my throat can tighten up. If, while playing, I deliberately open my larynx more, my sound becomes unstable and I also gag.
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sabutin

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« Reply #2 on: Feb 09, 2012, 08:50AM »

Does anyone do anything consciously with their larynx? 

---snip---

Just wondering if anyone else messes around with this. 

Well...yeah. Only not by "thinking" about the larynx. As Carmine Caruso might have said, "Show me your larnyx, please. Where is it? Can you separate it from the rest of your body?  Can you 'control' it without having that control affect the rest of your playing system? No, you can't. Now...please play this exercise in good time." Once you have learned how to hear and in some sense control the overtones that are sounding above your notes...even if this not a conscious "overtone" thing but simply learning how to make whatever your own particular definition of a good sound come out of your horn...then you are (among many other factors, all inextricably intertwined) dealing w/the gestalt of the system.

Larynx and all.

S.
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Thomas Matta

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« Reply #3 on: Feb 09, 2012, 09:12AM »

As Carmine Caruso might have said, "Show me your larnyx, please. Where is it? Can you separate it from the rest of your body?  Can you 'control' it without having that control affect the rest of your playing system? No, you can't. Now...please play this exercise in good time."

Bingo!
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baileyman
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« Reply #4 on: Feb 09, 2012, 12:00PM »

Well...yeah. Only not by "thinking" about the larynx. As Carmine Caruso might have said, "Show me your larnyx, please. Where is it? Can you separate it from the rest of your body?  Can you 'control' it without having that control affect the rest of your playing system? No, you can't. Now...please play this exercise in good time." Once you have learned how to hear and in some sense control the overtones that are sounding above your notes...even if this not a conscious "overtone" thing but simply learning how to make whatever your own particular definition of a good sound come out of your horn...then you are (among many other factors, all inextricably intertwined) dealing w/the gestalt of the system.

Larynx and all.

S.

Gee, Sam, as a matter of fact, the thing moves and the sound changes.  Maybe it moves also with other things and the sound changes.  But the sound changes.  And here, let me indicate the thing in my throat with my finger.  I can feel it move.  I can hear things change. 

And, yeah, I listen for overtones all the time.  And yeah, I get better sounding notes when I'm listening to the overtones.  And you know what?  I like what I hear most of the time. 

But never, ever, have I heard anything that happens as when the larynx moves around.  I can't measure it.  I can't photograph it.  I can't make a mathematical function to define what it or anything else does.  But as someone once said, "Yet, it moves."

And I'm not interested in figuring it out.  It just does.

But here's where the rubber hits the road.  I'm perfectly happy to let the body count its way into good behaviors.  I try to do that all the time.  All the time.  All the time.  Bet on it.  But it seems really unlikely this counting body would've started yanking the larynx around without its head saying, "Hey, I wonder what would happen if...?"  Ain't gonna happen mindlessly.  Larynx would never have gotten into the bag of tricks. 

Like, "I wonder what happens if I apply some of this overtone singing stuff to trombone...?"  Dig?

So I ask, have you messed around with this?  What of it?

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sabutin

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« Reply #5 on: Feb 09, 2012, 01:00PM »

Gee, Sam, as a matter of fact, the thing moves and the sound changes.  Maybe it moves also with other things and the sound changes.  But the sound changes.  And here, let me indicate the thing in my throat with my finger.  I can feel it move.  I can hear things change. 

I know. But it cannot be quantified, nor can it be separated from the surrounding parts of the system. What I am saying is that the best way to approach learning how to play something is to use deductive rather than inductive reasoning. One can "induce" something to happen by tinkering with...oh, say larynx position, m'pce placement, tightness or looseness of the corners, tongue position and a whole host of other individual physical actions, but in my experience (as heavily influenced by years of study with Carmine Caruso) most of the the time when you do these things all you are really doing is opening a can of balance worms. Change one thing individually and everything else must adjust to he new change. If, however, you simply do exercises that "make you sound better," be that "better" thing timbre, range, flexibility, legato, attacks...whatever floats your musical boat...you will have moved the entire system in balance with itself and thus more effectively. Sure, you may (or may not) have somehow changed your larynx position, but it will be part of a whole change. You have deduced from the results of the exercise(s) what works best rather trying to induce desirable change from a given physical action.

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And, yeah, I listen for overtones all the time.  And yeah, I get better sounding notes when I'm listening to the overtones.  And you know what?  I like what I hear most of the time. 

But never, ever, have I heard anything that happens as when the larynx moves around.  I can't measure it.  I can't photograph it.  I can't make a mathematical function to define what it or anything else does.  But as someone once said, "Yet, it moves."

And I'm not interested in figuring it out.  It just does.

But here's where the rubber hits the road.  I'm perfectly happy to let the body count its way into good behaviors.  I try to do that all the time.  All the time.  All the time.  Bet on it.  But it seems really unlikely this counting body would've started yanking the larynx around without its head saying, "Hey, I wonder what would happen if...?"  Ain't gonna happen mindlessly.  Larynx would never have gotten into the bag of tricks. 

Why not?

I mean, if you said "It's unlikely that doing a certain set of exercises in a certain way would change the structure of my trombone case or fix my car" I would be right there with you. But "the larynx" is right in the middle of the process. It is part of the whole air cavity that dictates the overtone production system that you are studying. Why would it not be involved in some way in what you are doing? And if it does not happen fairly naturally...if you have to somehow grab it and force it to move around in order to get it to "do" something...how do you expect to integrate it into playing the trombone?

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Like, "I wonder what happens if I apply some of this overtone singing stuff to trombone...?"  Dig?

So I ask, have you messed around with this?  What of it?

I have "messed around" with messing around. It simply doesn't work very well. Go ahead and try it. Hell...I am always saying "try everything," right?

The problem with that statement is that "everything" is too big. As the great comic philosopher Steven Wright once asked "If you had everything...where would you put it?" Eliminating individual manipulations of body parts...especially ones that do not happen on the natch...simplifies one of the "everythings" w/which we have to deal. There are enough near-infinities involved in the playing of this primitive blowstick as it is.

That's my take on it, anyway.

When I hear anyone start to talk about things like "tongue position," "throat constriction," "larynx lowering," "diaphragm breathing" and the like, I am immediately transported into Carmine Caruso's little studio on 46th St. where such palavering would be met by a kind, gentle and infinitely patient statement regarding just what I am saying here.

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Show me your (fill in the blank), please. Where is it? Can you separate it from the rest of your body?  Can you "control" it without having that control affect the rest of your playing system? No, you can't. Now...please play this exercise in good time.

And those of us who were too full of ourselves to listen would go away and try it anyway. And then come back a little wiser when the tinkering ultimately failed. Been there. Bet on it. Do you have to go there too? OK. Good luck with it. Really. It's all a learning experience. See you on down the road.

Later...

S.
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Visit <http://samburtis.com/>. Lots of information on that site in the form of articles plus a link to my method book "Time, Balance & Connections-A Universal Theory Of Brass Relativity" which includes several chapters of the book.
baileyman
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« Reply #6 on: Feb 10, 2012, 06:24PM »

...
in my experience (as heavily influenced by years of study with Carmine Caruso) most of the the time when you do these things all you are really doing is opening a can of balance worms. Change one thing individually and everything else must adjust to he new change. If, however, you simply do exercises that "make you sound better," be that "better" thing timbre, range, flexibility, legato, attacks...whatever floats your musical boat...you will have moved the entire system in balance with itself and thus more effectively. Sure, you may (or may not) have somehow changed your larynx position, but it will be part of a whole change. You have deduced from the results of the exercise(s) what works best rather trying to induce desirable change from a given physical action.
...

Okay, I think I get it. 

Anything inserted into or altered in the system affects the balance.  Such as, your slurs work well, but then tonguing the same notes requires learning new balance.  Putting them on other parts of the beat requires learning new balance.  Doing them at different volumes or speeds, especially extremes, requires new balance.  These may be enough balance worms as it is. 

And two ways to do this.  One is, for instance, you must articulate, so you must work out the balance problems of tonguing.  But it's not clear you must do anything in particular with your larynx.  But if it's part of a best sound balanced solution, well then there ya are. 

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sabutin

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« Reply #7 on: Feb 10, 2012, 09:29PM »

Okay, I think I get it. 

Anything inserted into or altered in the system affects the balance.  Such as, your slurs work well, but then tonguing the same notes requires learning new balance.  Putting them on other parts of the beat requires learning new balance.  Doing them at different volumes or speeds, especially extremes, requires new balance.  These may be enough balance worms as it is. 

And two ways to do this.  One is, for instance, you must articulate, so you must work out the balance problems of tonguing.  But it's not clear you must do anything in particular with your larynx.  But if it's part of a best sound balanced solution, well then there ya are. 



Yup.

I like cars, so let's go there.

One race driver gets very...particular...about his car. He says to the techs "I am having trouble in powering out of left-hand curves.Take 3 lbs of pressure off of the left front tire and add 3 lbs to the right front one." He then finds that he has solved that problem, but when he applies the brakes on a straight line the car pulls radically to the left. And on and on the tinkering goes. Where it stops? Not only does nobody know, but it does not stop.

The other driver is less specific about individual maneuvers and tendencies. He wants a car that feels well-balanced on all levels....well-balanced enough so that he can adjust his own inputs on a seat-of-the-pants level to keep the car on the road at all speeds and in all situations. He "tries everything",  finds what balances best in a very general sense, and then goes on about his business. You know which one is going to win a challenging race, don't you?  A race that is not all lefthand turns?

Yup.

Like dat.

Bet on it.

S.

Yup.
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« Reply #8 on: Feb 13, 2012, 08:09AM »

I learned to consciously move my larynx as a didgeridoo technique that utilizes separating the movements of the front of the tongue from the larynx's movements. The technique isn't useful for the trombone but the increased sensory awareness improved my articulation. This is similar to discovering Sam Burtis's overtone singing work.

Here an apt quote from David Vining''s book, "What Every Trombonist Needs to Know About the Body:"

Quote
The body map and kinesthesia are important tools for trombone playing and they are to be included with all the other tools we already use. Traditionally we play with an understanding of music theory and music history and with an awareness of the style we wish to achieve. When we add the body map and kinesthesia to these conventional tools, we enhance our experience and that of the listener. Our trombone playing becomes somatically informed in addition to being theoretically informed. Trombonists who add somatic awareness and an accurate body map to their musical tool box stand to achieve great depths of organic music-making and will more easily fulfill their entire musical potential." WET page 5

Just because something seems not directly related to playing, doesn't mean it won't be useful.

There are those who say that all one needs to do is play in time and with a beautiful sound and the rest will take care of itself. Perhaps for some, but my study of music theory, styles etc, AND the kineasthetic world have helped me beyond measure.

Just sayin'

John



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