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August 2022

The effect of the player's vocal tract on woodwind instrument tone

Journal/Book: J Acoust Soc Am. 1985; 78: 17-20.

Abstract: Many players of woodwind instruments believe that the tone of the instrument is influenced by the player's vocal tract. If this is so, it would be expected that the vibrating reed in the player's mouth would generate an appreciable sound pressure in his vocal tract. However, measurements of the vocal tract impedance (looking into the mouth) give values an order of magnitude less than the impedances of the clarinet air column resonances. The sound pressure built up in the vocal tract would thus be expected to be much smaller than that in the clarinet. A clarinetlike system was arranged to sound by drawing air through it from the normally open end, the reed being out in the open for easy accessibility. When the mouth was placed around the mouthpiece with the system sounding, the changes in the waveform and harmonic structure of the tone were minimal. When a system with a more sharply tuned resonance was substituted for the vocal tract, the waveform changes were observable but not large. It appears that the player's vocal tract has a negligible influence on the instrument tone.

Keyword(s): Mouth|PH. Music|

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