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My throat

3728 Views 21 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  potiphar
I hear a lot of pitch and sound techniques, based on your "throat", but I don't think you have something that can move in your throat. At least, my throat is my throat, air passes through it, and that's it! I really don't get it. Btw, your diaphragm, where is that exactly? :D Do you use any of the techniques with your throat in daily actions? If so, which ones, so I know what to do..

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try double tonguing, instead of going tee or taa for each tongued note go ta ka ta ka ta ka, the ta is normal then the ka is from the throat and diaphram
Try playing with cold air (ie an ee sound) then warm air (ie an aww sound), you should hear a big difference, thats because the throat becomes more open!

Diaphram is the muscle that controls the lungs.

A simple exercise is to breath out all of your air (as much as is possible) hold for a couple of seconds, then let nature take its course and you'll breathe using your diaphram!

Hope that helps
This is an interesting topic. I was talking about this in a lesson yesterday. The guy I was studying with brought up a good point in regards to conception of the throat when playing. He basically said that you can't open your throat. You can bring it from a state of constriction to a state of relaxation. That would, in effect, open your throat.
I also think a lot of times people are talking about vocal cords when they say throat. Dave Liebman's book talks about the vocal cords. Overtone exercises are the first thing that come to mind when talking about throat exercises.
As for the diaphragm, check this out.
I guess I should clarify...
You can't open your throat more from a state of relaxation.
The exercises I use to open the throat are:

-Do the first part of a yawn (before the swallow reflex starts)
-Sing "AHHH" on the lowest note you can hit
-Blow warm air as if you are trying to "fog" a cold window
-Say "HAUP" when you inhale

You can actually see and feel the throat open when you do these.

To close the throat exhale and then stop the air with a choking sensation. It is all too easy to do (unfortunately).

The diaphragm cannot be controlled directly but can be influenced by the stomach and chest muscles. Pete Thomas' website has an excellent article on Diaphragm Breathing under "Saxophone Lessons" "Saxophone Sound and Tone" Hope some of this helps answer your questions. Good luck.

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Also in terms of classical sax, sling placement is vital. It needs to be the right height to allow the throat to be as open as it can be, best way to do this is to play in front of a mirror.
Do a few little coughs. That is closed throat.

Try yawning. That is open throat.

Try panting, then slow it down, that is inhaling and exhaling with an open throat (no "cough").

Once you get this idea yo should see how it's possible to use the little cough to start a note on the saxophone. BUT... that's wrong. Keep the throat open as in yaaning or panting and then use the correct tonguing (ta, da etc) to start the note.
You do have a lot of things in the throat that you can move (or learn to move), the adam's apple-move it down, the back of the throat- pull it back ( tends to happen when you pull the adam's apple down), and the soft pallet at the back of mouth/throat junction can be lifted.
I found Liebman's book useful, but as a doctor I take what he says is going on anatomically with a pinch of salt. For example, if I change the tension of my vocal cords whilst exhaling I will simply hum at different frequencies - not ideal when looking for a pure sax tone. And diaphragmatic breathing is defined by the NON-involvement of chest and abdominal muscles.

I think a proper ear nose and throat specialist would laugh at how sax teachers (and singing teachers) explain the physiology of their art.

So I advise doing what they say, but not swallowing completely how they explain it (but if you do swallow it, you'll presumably be able to play from the abdomen like opera singers are supposed to).
When sax players talk about the diaphragm, I think it is more to do
with the abs.

Try tensing these as if you were expecting someone to punch you
in the stomach. Lots of situps help in this department.

If you do this while you are blowing you can intensify the sound.

An open throat really helps. Ahh not eee.

And as said above, the strap can pull down on your neck and pinch
off the throat.

Try blowing and then take the weight of the sax on your hands instead
of the strap. See if you can hear a difference.
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This may be an red herring, I'm not really sure. But this factor is an important for great singers (operatic). There may be a parallel for wind players, but even if not, it maybe interesting and worth considering and adding to the discussion.
The factor is "lowered larynx". The affect on sound for singers is discussed here:

"What gives Del Monaco's sound its elemental excitement? Ring, ping, what the Italians call "squillo." Most singers merely have resonance, which in and of itself is never exciting."

I think the parallel of "squillo" is present in the sound of Parker/Cannonball/Woods and some others and is what is missing in players whose sound is pretty and maybe even beautiful but not compelling.
I believe there are some physical positions with the back of the tongue, throat and larynx that affect this on saxophone.

I think Liebman discusses larynx in his book, but I think he pushes relaxed not lowered? ( Don't have it here to check )
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I think in physics its call 'formant filtering'.
I don't know how female's do it but I feel the sensation of lowering my Adam's Apple.
hakukani said:
I think in physics its call 'formant filtering'.
yeah but "squillo" is a so much better word!
Rick Adams said:
yeah but "squillo" is a so much better word!
Maybe we could make an extra thick mouthpiece pad and call it a 'squillo pad'.:D
hakukani said:
Maybe we could make an extra thick mouthpiece pad and call it a 'squillo pad'.:D
Sounds like something you'd scrub posts and pans with.
jazzbluescat said:
Sounds like something you'd scrub posts and pans with.
I've read some posts that should be scrubbed.;)
There are muscles around the throat, and you can use them. It doesn't make a lot of difference in tone. Think about it. Yawn, like previous members suggested, and that is the most open it can be, respiration-wise. Try to close it. That's impossible. You're moving your epiglottis when you cough, not your throat. Your throat is a big chamber that diverges into two smaller tubes (trachea and esophagus) separated by epiglottis.

The tongue position is a much more sensitive issue. For simplicity's sake, there are three parts to the tongue in terms of saxo playing. The back of the tongue focuses the air; the middle of the tongue directs the air; the tip of the tongue articulates. Saying AHHH will help you a little bit towards a darker sound if your particular equipment allows, but EEEEE will always yield a much more focused tone, since the back of the tongue is the only part of the body which will allow for enough closure of an aperture to generate the fastest possible air.

Successful doctors correct me if I am wrong, but the diaphragm is a smooth (involuntary) muscle. You can't feel it any more than you can feel your pancreas. The muscles that you control breathing-wise are primarily your abdominal muscles and to a lesser extent your intercostals.

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Angel said:
Successful doctors correct me if I am wrong, but the diaphragm is a smooth (involuntary) muscle. You can't feel it any more than you can feel your pancreas. The muscles that you control breathing-wise are primarily your abdominal muscles and to a lesser extent your intercostals.

I'd agree with all that, except the diaphragm is kosher striated (voluntary) muscle. But like some other muscles it's primarily automatic with a manual override, ie it's responsible for quiet, regular breathing. The trouble is we tend to concentrate on abdominal and intercostals if we are breathing deliberately - since these are the muscles used during exertion it can be pretty tiring and even cause hyperventilation.

I think breathing exercises such as long tones work on all three groups of muscles to get them trained to controlled, sustained effort. I suspect the greatest beneficiary of such exercises is the diaphragm.

(Signed) Successful doctor (have avoided being struck off so far)
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