The effects of clarinet embouchure on band director tone quality preferences

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Loraine Davis Enloe (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Donald Hodges

Abstract: "Two methods of clarinet pedagogy are predominant. Woodwind methods and beginning band texts reflect the dichotomy and therefore conflict concerning clarinet embouchure formation. One embouchure requires the player to pull back the corners of the mouth, as if smiling. The second method requires the player to bring the corners in towards the mouthpiece, as if saying "oo". This study measured the effects of clarinet embouchure on timbre and on band director tone quality preferences. Surface electromyography measured electrical activity differences in the risorius and zygomaticus major muscles, those involved both in smiling and in embouchure formation, to quantify embouchure differences and effects on timbre. "Smile" embouchure muscle electrical activity was significantly greater than that of the "Q" embouchure, thereby quantifying physical differences. Timbre produced by the Smile embouchure showed stronger upper harmonics and significantly stronger signal strength in the formant regions at 1500-1700 Hz and 3700-4300 Hz than the Q embouchure. Subjects (N=46) were randomly selected members of the National Band Association, who completed a 20-item paired-comparison tone quality survey. Two graduate clarinet majors played each survey item. One played with the corners of the mouth pulled back and the second played with the corners forward. Subjects did not prefer tone quality based upon embouchure differences as measured by a chi-square goodness of fit: {2 (1, N-46)=.783, p<.376. However, a post-hoc t-test of the ratio of the number of Q embouchure preferences to Smile embouchure preferences by subject showed a significant preference for the tone quality of the Q embouchure over that of the Smile embouchure: M=2.024, SD=2.920, t(45)=2.378, p<.05, d=.351, }=.63. Subject responses did not differ significantly by race, gender, education, job description, majors instrument, or woodwind text that was used. There were no significant interactions between factors. Test instrument reliability was a=.55. This study was the first of its kind and sought to quantify factors previously thought subjective. Results indicated a relationship between the Smile embouchure and the prevalence of higher overtones and, therefore a "brighter" tone. Band directors, however preferred the "darker" tone of the Q embouchure."--Abstract from author supplied metadata.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2007
methods, clarinet pedagogy, Woodwind, band, embouchure, timbre, tone

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