Chest wall dynamics and muscle recruitment during professional flute playing

Respir Physiol Neurobiol. 2008 Feb 1;160(2):187-95. doi: 10.1016/j.resp.2007.09.009. Epub 2007 Sep 21.


Respiratory parameters and sound were recorded during professional flute playing in order to assess what physiological processes were associated with the control of sound production that results in 'breath support' which in turn is associated with high quality playing. Four standing young professional flautists played flute excerpts with and without breath support. Recordings included optoelectronic plethysmographic measurements of chest wall volume (V(cw)) and its compartments, surface electromyography of the scalene, lateral abdominal, rectus abdominus, parasternal and sternocleidomastoid muscles, mouth pressure, and sound. Flow was estimated from differentiating V(cw) during playing. Results showed that flute support entails antagonistic contraction of non-diaphragmatic inspiratory muscles that tends to hold the rib cage at higher lung volume. This relieves the expiratory muscles from the task of producing the right mouth pressure, especially at the end of the phrases, so they can contribute more to the finer control of mouth pressure modulations required for high quality playing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Muscles / physiology
  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Adult
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inspiratory Capacity / physiology*
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Music*
  • Occupations
  • Reference Values
  • Respiratory Mechanics / physiology*
  • Respiratory Muscles / physiology*
  • Respiratory Sounds / physiology
  • Thoracic Wall / physiology*
  • Vital Capacity / physiology