Unusual problem

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fluteguy18
Posts: 2311
Joined: Sun Jul 16, 2006 3:11 pm

Unusual problem

Post by fluteguy18 »

Hey everyone,
I know that suggestions can't really be offered without seeing and hearing a person play in person but maybe someone might have an idea. After almost a year off (in which I lost close to 100lbs) I returned to playing. I've now been playing for a solid 6 months and have noticed a problem in my playing. At first I thought it was because I was regaining the musculature in my embouchure but now it is a definite problem.

When I play in the top half of the range I get a very odd.... UNDERtone. Not an overtone, but a sound UNDER my tone. It sounds like someone is putting air through a flute without really playing it. Furthermore the interval is a perfect interval (like a 3rd/4th etc), but the interval isn't always the same one. Sometimes it's a 5th, etc. It's this odd lower partial that is very clear, almost like a multiphonic.

I have no idea what to do and I've been working on it for about 2 months now. Any ideas?

I'll try to post some audio clips soon. I've become so preoccupied with it that I've put aside all technical work and it's tone only, all day, every day. It's very frustrating. I'm wanting to compete again, but this is in my way. I think it has to do with my lip shape. Before the weight loss I had rather full lips for a guy. Now my lips are on the medium/thin side of things. My face is CERTAINLY thinner (I'm sure cflutist can verify from my facebook pics, and I've lost another 5-8lbs since the last pic I posted was taken --- size 42 jeans to a 30/32 waist).

It's very frustrating. It's like my body is an alien when I play. My hands are completely without pain and in a lot of ways I have improved, but in so many ways I am miles behind where I was.

Ugh.

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cflutist
Posts: 447
Joined: Sun Oct 08, 2006 12:44 pm

Re: Unusual problem

Post by cflutist »

Have you tried to run this by your fellow associates and your employer. I'm sure they will have some ideas when they hear your playing.

Congrats on the weight loss, that is quite an accomplishment.

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pied_piper
Posts: 1896
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 1:31 pm
Location: Virginia

Re: Unusual problem

Post by pied_piper »

FG18 - Since you have lost so much weight, you lips are certainly thinner than before. The result is that the embouchure hole is now closer to your lip opening than it was before. That would cause some slight changes in the angle of your airstream. Perhaps you can compensate by rolling out a bit while aiming the airstream a bit lower. It's also possible that you may need to consider changing headjoints to find one that better matches your new physical attributes.
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

fluteguy18
Posts: 2311
Joined: Sun Jul 16, 2006 3:11 pm

Re: Unusual problem

Post by fluteguy18 »

I've asked the people at work. No luck there really. That's a good idea PP about airstream angle. I've also submitted my plight to the Larry Krantz list and the Galway flute chat lists. They've been shooting some good ideas my way too.

I've been referred by several people to the leading teacher in the Dallas area because she's evidently a remarkable technician. I asked her about it when she came into the store and she's agreed to help because 'it's a very interesting problem and I like fixing puzzles.'

One way or another I'll fix it. I made a beautiful sound once before and I'm almost there again.

fluteguy18
Posts: 2311
Joined: Sun Jul 16, 2006 3:11 pm

Re: Unusual problem

Post by fluteguy18 »

You were very close! I had my lesson this evening and all I can say is WOW! Claire Johnson is a MAGNIFICENT pedagogue. I think in those 30 minutes I learned more about the way the mouth, tongue, jaw, throat, and diaphragm work than I have learned in the past 6-7 years combined. The problem was not my embouchure. In fact she felt I had great control over my lips but rather it was my tongue and the back portion of my jaw.

She pulled out this GIGANTIC book of human anatomy (which was mostly pictures but it was a good 2 feet tall and 1.5 feet wide when CLOSED) and went to the anatomy of the human head. She discussed it for a while and had me try different exercises. To make a long story short I needed to think more like a singer. Use my 'head holes'. Bring the jaw downward more (feel the holes open up in front of my ears), relax my tongue muscle and allow it to slide forward in my mouth almost curling up against the base of my lower front teeth. Doing this was difficult. So she had me lower the jaw and do flutter tonguing. It turns out to do frontal flutter tonguing your tongue has to be completely relaxed, so she had me flutter tongue and then go straight into a straight tone. That cleared up my sound immediately.

So basically it was lower the back portion of the jaw, and soften the tongue! Immediate fix. My sound became clear, all of the pre-weight loss richness returned and a surprising amount of sweetness appeared out of nowhere. It will take time to make this a permanent habit, but I am very pleased with the results.

:D :D :D :D :D :D

WOOHOO!

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pied_piper
Posts: 1896
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 1:31 pm
Location: Virginia

Re: Unusual problem

Post by pied_piper »

I'm glad that she was able to help you find the reason and help you fix it. It's really great to hear stories like this because it points out that teachers are truly necessary. We often thrash about searching for an answer by ourselves when a good teacher can quickly show us the way.
"Never give a flute player a screwdriver."
--anonymous--

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