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Discussion Starter #1
Enlarging the space in the mouth is commonly recommended for improving flute tone, since it increases resonance. Singers also like to increase resonance, and a trick they use is opening up the path to the nasal cavities by dropping the velum. Do flutists do that too? I haven't seen any mention of it.

Yes, there's a problem. In singing, the source of tone is the larynx, below the opening to the nose, so nasal sounds do not reduce the air pressure available for producing sound. But air that passes up through the nose is not available for blowing an ordinary flute. So if too much air was lost up the nose, you'd run out of air pressure to make the flute sound. Still, it ought to be possible to open up the nasal passage partially, to produce some nasal tone, without losing too much air.

So, does anyone do nasal flute tone?
 

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I don't think so since the air column is squeezed down to a tiny hole and the sound comes from a souce outside of the mouth.
But that said, it does help alot for breathing to open the throat and it can effect articulation.
Maybe some studies have been done.
 

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Roland Kirk did lots of 'nose flute'. :)
 

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There is almost no effect on flute tone from resonances in the oral cavity, because there is no direct connection between the oral cavity and the "downstream resonator"--the flute.

Changes in tone color in flute are all about the size and shape of the air jet that is formed by the lips. That may change somewhat when the flutist changes the oral cavity configuration, but that is a secondary effect having nothing to do with resonance.
 

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Kinda what I said more with more thought.
There is almost no effect on flute tone from resonances in the oral cavity, because there is no direct connection between the oral cavity and the "downstream resonator"--the flute.

Changes in tone color in flute are all about the size and shape of the air jet that is formed by the lips. That may change somewhat when the flutist changes the oral cavity configuration, but that is a secondary effect having nothing to do with resonance.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Yep. And studies have been done. What we said...
Please give one reference to a study showing that oral resonances have no effect on flute tone color.

Here is a result from the very first reference that turned up when I googled "flute oral resonance":
The passive resonance frequency in the second mode was adjusted to about 1000 Hz with the mouth cavity tuned off resonance. Tuning the mouth cavity through resonance gave very pronounced perturbations in the resonance frequency of the head joint.
Mouth resonance effects in the flute, by John W. Coltman .
 

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That article seems to be alluding to a particular frequency, around 1000 Hz.

Wouldn't having a particular, i.e. relatively non-adjustable resonant frequency be more of a hindrance than help to playing with evenness of volume and tone?
I have never noticed an extra volume around 1000 hz (third C) from such resonance.

BTW, that Coltman document says they used clay lips. I rather think that the soft material of real lips would dampen coupling somewhat more than clay would, especially if the clay had hardened.
 

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Read the concluding paragraph. A frequency perturbation of about 10 cents across an octave, small and likely masked by other variables.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
That article seems to be alluding to a particular frequency, around 1000 Hz.
That frequency is the typical center frequency of a band of frequencies emphasized due to the resonance of the front cavity of the mouth. The major resonances in the mouth which distinguish the vowels are the 1st and 2nd formants, which for a neutral vowel are around 500Hz and 1000Hz. The article I referred to seems to be reacting to an earlier proposal that the important oral resonance for the flute was the 1st, lower frequency, formant. This article is saying, no, it's the higher frequency 2nd formant which is important -- the formant around 1000Hz (but varying according to the vowel color).

The 2nd formant of vowel sounds is associated with the front cavity in the mouth when it is divided by a raised tongue, and its size is controlled by front (for higher frequency) tongue position versus back (for lower frequency) tongue position. That is, the center frequency of this frequency band will be above 1000Hz (roughly) for front vowels (as in "meet", "mitt", "mate", "met", "mat"), but below that for back vowels (as in "rot", "moot", "mote", "ought").

So for tone color, what I get from this is that front tongue position, giving a high 2nd formant, should give a brighter tonality than back tongue position.

At any rate, I think the literature is clear that tongue position in the mouth does affect flute tone.
 

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That frequency is the typical center frequency of a band of frequencies emphasized due to the resonance of the front cavity of the mouth. The major resonances in the mouth which distinguish the vowels are the 1st and 2nd formants, which for a neutral vowel are around 500Hz and 1000Hz. The article I referred to seems to be reacting to an earlier proposal that the important oral resonance for the flute was the 1st, lower frequency, formant. This article is saying, no, it's the higher frequency 2nd formant which is important -- the formant around 1000Hz (but varying according to the vowel color).

The 2nd formant of vowel sounds is associated with the front cavity in the mouth when it is divided by a raised tongue, and its size is controlled by front (for higher frequency) tongue position versus back (for lower frequency) tongue position. That is, the center frequency of this frequency band will be above 1000Hz (roughly) for front vowels (as in "meet", "mitt", "mate", "met", "mat"), but below that for back vowels (as in "rot", "moot", "mote", "ought").

So for tone color, what I get from this is that front tongue position, giving a high 2nd formant, should give a brighter tonality than back tongue position.

At any rate, I think the literature is clear that tongue position in the mouth does affect flute tone.
But what you are not considering is that the tone generator in speaking or singing is inside the upstream of the the oral cavity, and thus both the configuration and resonant frequency of the oral cavity is a primary factor in the final sound produced. In a flute, the oral cavity is only very weakly coupled with the primary resonator through the air jet coming from the mouth.

If you think the literature supports your view that oral cavity configuration does affect flute tone, then it is incumbent on you to provide the relevant references. I do agree, however, that if the tongue position affects the air jet through aeroacoustic effects, then it will affect flute tone. This, however, has everything to do with airspeed and jet shape and placement, and nothing to do with actual resonances in the mouth, except, as Coltman observes--some weak effects in terms of intonation that are basically not significant.

More likely, the kinesthetic effects of mouth position affect how the player shapes and modulates the air jet, so the effects are secondary. Take as an analogy a piano player playing "smoothly". Actually the piano is percussive, so one cannot vary the actual rise of sound after the attack, but the combination of the actual force and the timing of the hammer striking the strings gives the impression of "smoothness" as opposed to when the player is playing more percussively. So to with flute tone. The major determinant of the actual harmonic composition of the flute sound has to do with the shape (and speed) of the air jet. Moving the tongue definitely affects both.

Again, read Coltman. There is a weak effect, but likely masked by other factors. Here is a nice paper that explaiins in detail the mechanics of flute tone production:

http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-09132007-163345/unrestricted/dissertation.pdf
 

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Discussion Starter #12
If you think the literature supports your view that oral cavity configuration does affect flute tone, then it is incumbent on you to provide the relevant references.
Well, I did that. I could easily add other references. I asked you for one of these "studies" you said showed the opposite, and you have provided nothing whatsoever. I don't see why I should take you seriously, at this point.
 

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Sorry, you are the one making the claim that the effects are significant, and you have not responded to Coltman's conclusion, which seems at odds with your contention. I am not at home and I do not have access to my library. Please provide other references that we can discuss, since Coltman doesn't support your position. FWIW oral configuration does very definitely affect instruments with a direct coupling between the reed generator and the upstream resonator, such as the clarinet or oboe. The flute is a different case.
 

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Here is a very comprehensive paper on flute tone by Neville Chamberlain, a preeminent acoustician and concert-level flautist. It should help to clarify the mechanics of tone production. You will note that any discussion of oral cavity effects is absent.

http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/music/people/publications/Fletcher1994a.pdf

Here is a paper on vocal tract interaction in recorder performance. This is especially interesting since changing the windway cannot change the air jet on a fipple flute. The authors noted a difference in the 6-8 KHz region of the sound spectrum, but say that there is no evidence that this is due to resonance effects:

http://www.danlaurin.com/pdf/jm_chen_vocal_tract_Interaction.pdf
 
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