Respiratory parameters during professional flute playing

Respir Physiol. 2000 Jun;121(1):33-44. doi: 10.1016/s0034-5687(00)00111-0.


We studied three professional flautists while playing to determine: (1) what respiratory muscles and percent vital capacity (%VC) were used; (2) how mouth pressure (Pm), embouchure resistance (Rem), embouchure aperture (Aem), flow (V) and velocity (Vel) affect sound loudness (I) and frequency (F). We measured Pm, esophageal, gastric, transdiaphragmatic, transpulmonary (PL) pressures, diaphragmatic EMG, sound and chest wall displacements directly. Lung volume (VL) was estimated from PL during playing and the static deflation PL-VL curve measured separately; V from Delta VL/Delta t; Rem from Pm/(Delta VL/Delta t). Staccati and sustained notes at different F and I were performed. I increased mainly with V and F with Vel. V and Vel are independently controlled by Pm and Aem. The variation of mean Pm was small (6-11 cm H(2)O) and large for VC (72-83%) suggesting braking inspiratory muscle activity while playing. However, rib cage (RC) and abdominal (Ab) motion were different for each subject. One displaced Ab>RC at high VL and RC>Ab at low VL, another the opposite pattern; the third was in between. We conclude that while different flautists use different strategies to control Pm, the results are similar. Independent control of V and Vel by Pm and Aem allow flautists to control I and F regardless of how Pm is generated.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pressure
  • Airway Resistance / physiology
  • Diaphragm / physiology
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Music*
  • Respiratory Mechanics / physiology*
  • Respiratory Muscles / physiology*
  • Vital Capacity / physiology