Over two years, a total of 10 clarinetists (5 high level professionals and 5 students) will be recruited to investigate the role of oral structures like jaw, lips and tongue in defining proper embouchure for playing the clarinet. Each subject will be given a set of previously prepared exercises that are most suitable to execute specific clarinet idioms. The embouchure behaviour corresponding to each task will be quantified in terms of movement characteristics (duration, velocity, amplitude range, stability, and coordination) for each group. The aim of performing these tasks is to provide a very specific environment for measuring the contributions of different parts of the tongue (front, mid, back), formation and involvement of the lips as well as the resulting changes under challenging assignments. While these tasks will be performed by each participant, we will employ non-invasive, real-time physiological and physical data acquisition methods such as:
- 3D Electromagnetic Articulograph (EMA; AG501), to record movements of the tongue, lips and jaw.
- Surface Electromyography (sEMG), to record the electrical activity of facial muscles (in particular, those of the lips) involved in playing the clarinet.
- Respitrace (induction plethysmography), an apparatus to measure respiratory kinematics of chest and abdominal movements during playing which will allow (after proper calibration) to measure air volume and its derivative, airflow.
- Audio-video recording device, to record the sound produced and outside shape of the embouchure corresponding to the air support changes across all of the instrument’s registers.
Together, these recordings will allow us to quantify the oral motor events that are directly related to playing the clarinet in terms of dynamic kinematic characteristics and the resulting sound features. To this end, we will use advanced software available in the ODL (EGUANA; Henriques & Van Lieshout, 2013) to process all movement data for further interpretation.
Based on this data analysis it will be possible to examine the exact relation between the jaw pressure and tongue position in various registers; movement in tongue’s different parts (tip, middle and dorsum) in various articulations; the phenomena of the embouchure dystonia as well as the “biting effect”. The improved understanding of these processes will then inform the creation of specific exercises that would target those oral motor structures found responsible for defining proper embouchure. This will lead to future projects in which I hope to develop teaching aids for personal practice and instruction.