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Thread: Would a wind controller better help me understand wind instruments in general?

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    Default Would a wind controller better help me understand wind instruments in general?

    I was considering getting a wind controller more for the purpose of just understanding what a normal persons breathing patterns were like while playing an instrument. Will it help my writing for wind instruments in general be more comfortable?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Manok View Post
    I was considering getting a wind controller more for the purpose of just understanding what a normal persons breathing patterns were like while playing an instrument. Will it help my writing for wind instruments in general be more comfortable?
    One of our mods is wind player, I am sure you will get you answer.
    First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
    "Mahatma Gandhi"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pugg View Post
    One of our mods is wind player, I am sure you will get you answer.
    I don't know about a wind controller, but a couple of things to keep in mind: The biggest breathing problem in wind music is lengthy legato passages with no pauses or places to breathe. Modern flutes are made to be capable of a very powerful, loud sound, but the louder the sound, the more air is required. So leave more frequent places to breathe in fortissimo passages. The opening solo in Debussy's Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faun is famous for being difficult to play in one breath. For me, it's possible if played pianissimo, otherwise not.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Manok View Post
    I was considering getting a wind controller more for the purpose of just understanding what a normal persons breathing patterns were like while playing an instrument. Will it help my writing for wind instruments in general be more comfortable?
    I'm not sure what a wind controller is, or does...

    As Fluteman says - long legato passages without break are difficult. so are long technical passages without break these are tough for breathing as well - I'm thinking of Bach Orch Suite #4 - Bouree II for bassoon.
    or Beethoven Sym #3/IV, for flute, or maybe Dvorak 8/IV - both have long technique passages for flute, that require a lot of volume, because the orchestra is playing along as well.

    It's not really a problem if there are phrasing breaks in the passage - slow or fast...it doesn't have to be much. but non-stop, all connected can pose some problems.

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    I am not a musician but I do remember seeing Albrecht Meyer, principal oboe of the Berlin Philharmonic, talking about the technique of 'circular breathing' which, as I understood it, is a way of breathing in through the nose while continuing to play, and which he demonstrated with a very long, continuous passage.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Becca View Post
    I am not a musician but I do remember seeing Albrecht Meyer, principal oboe of the Berlin Philharmonic, talking about the technique of 'circular breathing' which, as I understood it, is a way of breathing in through the nose while continuing to play, and which he demonstrated with a very long, continuous passage.
    The circular breathing experts I've talked to say it's good for certain things but not everything.

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    I've never had to do circular breathing, but I know how to do it - it's difficult to make it "seamless"....

    for a quick lesson in circular breathing, try this -

    fill a glass with H2O - say a 10-12 oz glass - with a plastic straw inserted in the glass.

    Take a deep breath, and expel air thru the straw, into the glass, so that you are blowing bubbles -
    now - stop expelling air from your chest, and just use the air in your mouth and throat to continue blowing bubbles. there isn't much air but you can sustain the air stream for at least a few seconds...
    while you are expelling air thru your mouth - breath in - inhale
    when your lungs fill, expel air to resume the air stream....
    as you exhaust the air in your lungs, repeat the process, switching to mouth exhalation, breathing in to replenish air supply in your lungs....this exchange could go on indefinitely.

    in theory, you've never stopped the air stream going into the glass [your instrument]....
    what is difficult, for me, is to not get a break in the stream when resuming the lung exhalation taking over for the mouth expulsion...the break is tiny, and if you work at it, you can get it pretty smooth...

    As I said, I've never had to use it, I have a large vital capacity.

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    Robert Dick is probably one of the top circular breathing flute experts, he's written a book about it with photographs and instructions, and discusses in detail the glass of water method you describe. He gives some impressive demonstrations in his recordings, especially in his own compositions. But even he doesn't generally use it for most standard classical music.

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    Essentially if you've ever seen a midi keyboard, or any other midi instrument, it's like that, except you blow into it. When you stop blowing into it, the notes stop. I figured if I got a cheap one of these, I could write music with it, and get a feel for how a normal non robot would actually play passages. Barring that, how often should I have breathing spots? This is one of my most difficult things to figure out, as I only ever played clarinet very briefly. I meant this for all winds, brass included.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Manok View Post
    Essentially if you've ever seen a midi keyboard, or any other midi instrument, it's like that, except you blow into it. When you stop blowing into it, the notes stop. I figured if I got a cheap one of these, I could write music with it, and get a feel for how a normal non robot would actually play passages. Barring that, how often should I have breathing spots? This is one of my most difficult things to figure out, as I only ever played clarinet very briefly. I meant this for all winds, brass included.
    Those are pretty worthless, imho.

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    Michael Brecker uses a wind controller to great effect on the CD "Don't Try This at Home," the song "Itsbynne Reel."


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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    Yup, I have those. In fact, I know Robert Dick, he's a very nice guy. The Other Flute recording has some impressive examples of circular breathing, multiphonics and other extended techniques.

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    I've got the CD, not the books, and I am an admirer of Dick (did that sound right?). Tell him that when you see him.

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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    I've got the CD, not the books, and I am an admirer of Dick (did that sound right?). Tell him that when you see him.
    You should check out his web site (I don't know the rules about posting such a link here, but it comes right up if you google his name). He performs regularly, mostly in the NYC area but also around the US and in Europe. There are other CDs, but he's also well worth hearing in person.

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