Medical Problems of Performing ArtistsMedical Problems of Performing Artists

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Hypopharyngeal pressure in brass musicians

C. Richard Stasney, Mary Es Beaver, Margarita Rodriguez
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 18 Number 4: Page 153 (December 2003)

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Abstract: Brass instrument players are exposed to unique health risks due to increased pharyngeal pressures necessary for performance. One such risk is development of laryngoceles, or "blowout" of the larynx. This cross-sectional observational study was performed to determine the pressure required to play different frequencies in a variety of brass instruments. The hypothesis tested was that enharmonic frequencies require the same pharyngeal pressure regardless of the instrument. The brass instruments tested were high-pressure, low-flow instruments (trumpet or French horn) or low-pressure, high-flow instruments (tuba or trombone). We were not able to substantiate Jacobs' theory that enharmonic frequencies resulted in equal pressures regardless of instrument, but we did elicit some high pressures in the hypopharynx when playing the trumpet or horn at higher frequencies.

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