All profit supporting special needs music education and Help Musicians

Strange internal air movement in the throat

Profusia

Senior Member
Messages
1,019
Locality
Worcestershire
Has anyone experienced this? If I have an intense session I'm finding that I start to experience a very unpleasant sensation of air "escaping" (for want of a better word), somewhere internally. It doesn't seem to be a perforated ear issue, so I assume it's air that's getting misdirected and pushing through from throat to nose. Whatever it is it isn't painful as such, but is a bit uncomfortable, sounds weird, and feels plain wrong. Anyone else? Anyone able to expand on the issue a bit?
 

Stephen Howard

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,098
Locality
UK
This could be related to the problems you're having with your low C#.

There's a 'thing' than happens from time-to-time when you're tired or out of practice. The most common cause of problems is a loss of embouchure - which is due to muscle fatigue.
But there are times when something internal fails - and you lose the ability to close off your nasal passages.
I'm not a biologist, so I'm guessing that the epiglottis fails and allows air that should be directed to the oral cavity to escape through the nose.
I've had it happen to me on a few gigs over the years - usually when I've been giving it large for three sets and the bandleader calls an encore that feature a repetitive sax riff. "Precious Time" is a good example - nothing very technical, but you're playing a 12-bar riff almost all the way through the song. If you're in the least bit knackered, the air escapes through your nose and the bets that you can manage is a sort of farty sound.

As far as I can tell it seems to happen pretty much randomly - which means it's possibly less about technique and more about physical condition (and perhaps how much alcohol you've consumed).
 
Vote:
Upvote 0

Ivan

Undecided
Café Supporter
Messages
7,903
Locality
Peeblesshire
There's a 'thing' than happens from time-to-time when you're tired or out of practice... the air escapes through your nose and the best that you can manage is a sort of farty sound
Guessing the problem...

Your soft palate seals off the passage between your mouth and your nose

If you don't know where your soft palate is, it's the rearmost roof of your mouth with the uvula dangling down at the back of it. When you play sax your soft palate seals off the nose so all of your breath blows the horn

The soft palate has muscles you control. If those muscles get tired working against the blowing pressure of a long and loud session, the soft palate will, well, soften, break the seal and allow air to push past into your nose

(For the record your epiglottis does a different job, to do with swallowing, but it gets an honourable mention)
 
Vote:
Upvote 0

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
14,956
Locality
Burnley bb9 9dn
There's a point where blowing harder only results in damaging the player. Blowing too hard can cause all sorts of problems.
If it hurts, you're doing it wrong.
 
Vote:
Upvote 0

Profusia

Senior Member
Messages
1,019
Locality
Worcestershire
Stephen, Ivan, thanks guys, you've confirmed it's what I thought, and that I'm not unique or damaged in some way. It does come on during a long session, and I suspect more when I've not been practicing much, so it all makes sense. I can still play with it though, so far at least. It's just an unpleasant feeling and internal sound. I don't think it affects what's coming out of the horn. I've started busking and of course that's pretty intense. No breaks while other band members solo etc. So I guess I'm just tiring the muscles in that area. Hopefully they'll strengthen if I keep doing it. Not alcohol related in my case. Could be conditioning, lack of match fitness/practice, or maybe age related (hope not).
 
Vote:
Upvote 0

Profusia

Senior Member
Messages
1,019
Locality
Worcestershire
There's a point where blowing harder only results in damaging the player. Blowing too hard can cause all sorts of problems.
If it hurts, you're doing it wrong.
No pain in my case and not blowing particularly hard. More just about a long session with no rests.
 
Vote:
Upvote 0

Stephen Howard

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,098
Locality
UK
No pain in my case and not blowing particularly hard. More just about a long session with no rests.
Indeed - I never experience any pain when the 'condition' hits...over and above the pain of sounding like a whoopee cushion with a hole in it - and it doesn't take that long to recover (maybe a number or two).
 
Vote:
Upvote 0

saxyjt

Saxus Circus Maximus
Café Supporter
Messages
4,772
Locality
France
Another leak found by our honorable members. Thank God, no need for a leak light down your throat! :w00t:
 
Vote:
Upvote 0

Popular Discussions

Top Bottom