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Movements of the Glottis During Horn Performance: A Pilot Study

Peter W. Iltis, Sarah L. Gillespie, Jens Frahm, Dirk Voit, Arun Joseph, Eckart Altenmuller
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 32 Number 1: Page 33 (March 2017)

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Abstract: OBJECTIVE: The functional role of the glottis in brass performance is poorly understood and controversial, particularly with respect to pedagogy. Technological limitations have prevented the non-invasive, systematic study of the glottis in the past, but developments in real-time magnetic resonance imaging (RT-MRI) allow representations of glottal movement during performance on a MRI-compatible horn to be recorded and quantified. METHODS: We present RT-MRI data obtained on 6 advanced-level horn players from serial images acquired at an acquisition time of 33.3 ms as they performed sustained note exercises on three notes (concert Eb2, Eb4, and Bb4) at each of three dynamics (pp, mf, and ff) and a staccato exercise. An advanced-level trumpet player was also studied performing a modification of the staccato exercise designed to minimize vertical movement of the larynx. Glottal movements and positions in the coronal plane were analyzed using a customized MATLAB toolkit. RESULTS: In sustained note playing, there is a significant influence of dynamic on the degree of glottal adduction/abduction. There is greater adduction with softer notes, and greater abduction with louder notes. In slow staccato playing, glottal closure accompanies the cessation of each note and persists until iteration of the next note in the sequence. CONCLUSIONS: We demonstrate that RT-MRI provides a suitable method to identify and quantify glottal movement during horn playing. We further show that there is a direct relationship between dynamic level and glottal adduction/abduction, and that the glottis is involved in performing notes during slow staccato playing.

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