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Pressure sensor to measure embouchure effectiveness?

nigeld

I don't need another mouthpiece; but . . .
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I'm not an expert, but it seems unlikely too me that a pressure reading will be very useful.

If I want to play louder then I believe that I am increasing the pressure - at least that's what it feels like.
Also if I am playing with a larger tip opening or on a harder reed, it feels as if I use more pressure than with a softer reed.

My C-melody sax requires me to use hardly any pressure at all - it is very different from my alto.
My baritone sax requires a lot of air, but not a lot pf pressure.

So I suspect that a pressure sensor will just tell you how hard you are blowing, not whether your embouchure is "effective".
 

altissimo

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surely measuring lip pressure or how much you're biting would only be be useful if there were some existing data to compare against, otherwise you're just getting measurements without any context and it would only really be useful if measured while actually playing the saxophone and that would become quite complicated

there may be some useful info here - https://newt.phys.unsw.edu.au/jw/reprints/PlayingParameters.pdf

it may be possible to find out if the lip pressure sensor in an EWI sends midi continuous controller data, in which case you could record it into a sequencer and look at the data that way...

but why would you want to go to these lengths, except for scientific research?

there does seem to be an over emphasis on 'not biting' these days that could become an obsession - better not to worry about it and relax and enjoy the instrument. Maintaining perfectly even lip pressure isn't necessary or desirable, it tends to vary depending on what you're doing and will differ from one player to the next
 

jbtsax

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Watching Harvey Pittel's video (Part 4) Embouchure I wondered: is there a pressure sensor that I could stick between my lips to measure the effectiveness of my embouchure? I know the EWI has a sensor, but it is unclear if it is suited to the task, and I want a continuous readout of pressure - rather like biofeedback.

Mike
Not to be glib, but one already exists---a mouthpiece and reed. The pressure is measured by the pitch produced. Of course air volume, velocity, the stiffness of the reed, and the design of the mouthpiece also come into play. From my experience teaching clarinet and saxophone I know that the embouchure pressure on clarinet that produces F# concert on the mouthpiece and barrel, and and on alto sax Ab concert on the mouthpiece and neck works the best.
 

nigeld

I don't need another mouthpiece; but . . .
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Watching Harvey Pittel's video (Part 4) Embouchure I wondered: is there a pressure sensor that I could stick between my lips to measure the effectiveness of my embouchure? I know the EWI has a sensor, but it is unclear if it is suited to the task, and I want a continuous readout of pressure - rather like biofeedback.

Mike

Apologies - I've just realised that I have probably misunderstood what "pressure" means in the original question.
@mslinn - Do you mean lip pressure (bite) rather than air pressure?
I can see more point in measuring that.

My impression was that the EWI measures air pressure, but I may be completely wrong.
 

Phil

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Im in agreement with Altissimo: If such an item exists or can be built the readings mean nothing without a library of data. It could be an interesting study but I have serious doubts regarding any useful application of such data. In gathering data from other players you may well find that plenty of "The Greats" are "Doing it wrong". There are so many variables Im not sure what such data could tell you that would be of practical use.
 

Alphorn

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Put simple: Why would I want to know? Effectiveness of embochoure? If there are no other problems in life... An internet forum can be quite nerdy.

It is effective when you sound good and you don't get tired in less than an hour. Does that help?

Alphorn
 

jbtsax

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Another test comes to mind that is contained in The Art of Saxophone Playing by Larry Teal. That is to play a low A and with the free hand tap open the neck octave key and let it immediately close. If the A goes to the upper octave and stays for a considerable time, the embouchure is too tight. If the high A sounds flat and flabby, the embouchure is too loose, if the note goes to a nice sounding high A and then quickly comes back down, the embouchure is set correctly.
 

altissimo

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thinking about it, pressure may not be the best way of looking at the issue, since pressure is defined as force per unit area, so you'd have to measure any changes in the surface area of the lip as well as the force applied as well as the compressibility of the lips.
It'd be possible to glue a strain gauge to the reed, but calibrating it to give accurate measurements of force would be a hard job..
The amount of force applied would depend on the strength of the reed and the tip opening of the mouthpiece. The bending of the reed may not be lineararly proportional to the force applied.

the advice given in Harvey Pittel's video is just that - advice - it's not a set of hard and fast rules, just a few things that you might like to take into consideration or not. Some advice can be helpful, or it can be not relevant to your particular circumstances. As with learning to talk or ride a bike, the learning comes from the learner, not the teacher and a good deal of trial and error is often involved.
There are many different variables under our control when we play a musical instrument, but trying to be consciously in control of them all is no more possible than consciously trying to control your vocal cords and larynx when you speak or sing.


I'm in agreement with Altissimo
now I'm getting worried...
 

Pete Effamy

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If I want to play louder then I believe that I am increasing the pressure - at least that's what it feels like.
Also if I am playing with a larger tip opening or on a harder reed, it feels as if I use more pressure than with a softer reed.

If you want to play louder, more pressure on the reed will be counter-productive as you will be closing the tip opening and allowing less volume of air through. As someone else has said on this Forum somewhere (so helpful, I know...) - the "modern" technique of embouchure advocates the same support (this is a better word than pressure) throughout the range. I mean throughout too, into the harmonics. This is achieved by placement/shape of the tongue.
Compare "awwwww" and "Eeeeeee". If you continue to apply pressure upon the reed as you go higher and higher you will also create a thinner sound. And eventually no sound as you bite the reed closed against the mouthpiece table.
I think that Brandon Fields talks a little about this stuff somewhere on the net - this isn't it, but this is him:
He has a really big sound way into the really high harmonics. I'm too old to re-learn this stuff - (is it also the teachings of Joe Allard? - he taught Brecker and Eddie Daniels amongst a few others!) - though I can really see the benefit on low notes without subtone.

Ah:
 
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