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I Sacrificed My Sphygmomanometer in The Name of Science


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John Mohan
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2019 10:42 am    Post subject: I Sacrificed My Sphygmomanometer in The Name of Science Reply with quote

Hi all,

For a while now I've wanted to do some research and measure how much thoracic air pressure various players (and a control group of non-players) can generate and compare that to each player's own highest full power note and highest overall note they are capable of playing. A study(1.) has shown that typically fit young adult males can generate about 19 kPa (+ or - 1 kPa) of thoracic air pressure where as trumpet players can generate about 23 kPa (+ or - 5 kPa) of thoracic air pressure. For reference, 23 kPa equals about 3.3 lbs of pressure per square inch.

The main thing that has held me back was lack of a suitable way to measure the pressure. But I had an epiphany the other day while looking at my Sphygmomanometer (Blood Pressure Cuff). The gauge on it has a range of up to 300 mm Hg (about 40 kPa). Perfect! The rubber hose just plugs into a cone shaped nozzle on it, so I cut the hose about 3" inches from the end (no worries - I can just reattach the gauge to the slightly shortened hose that leads to the cuff and still use the cuff on patients). The 3" section of hose has just the right outer diameter to fit into a mouthpiece stem, providing something to blow into (I found that just trying to blow into the hose didn't work as I could easily blow with enough power to cause the air to leak out between my lips and the hose).

It works! I find that I am able to generate 180 mm Hg of pressure (24 kPa or about 3.5 lbs/sq in). Now I'm going to start testing other people and players and record the pressures they can generate and their range capabilities. I'm sure that overall I'll find a correlation between air pressure capability and range capability. But I am very interested in finding any outliers who can play into the Double High C range yet can only generate average levels of air pressure, and then follow up on what they do and how they developed their range ability.

I'll be canvassing for volunteers at the next Annual Chicago Trumpet Hang!

1. Blowing pressure, power, and spectrum in trumpet playing, N. H. Fletchera and A. Tarnopolsky, School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra 2600, Australia

Best wishes,

John Mohan
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JayKosta
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2019 12:50 pm    Post subject: Re: I Sacrificed My Sphygmomanometer in The Name of Science Reply with quote

John Mohan wrote:
... Now I'm going to start testing other people and players and record the pressures they can generate and their range capabilities. I'm sure that overall I'll find a correlation between air pressure capability and range capability. But I am very interested in finding any outliers who can play into the Double High C range yet can only generate average levels of air pressure, and then follow up on what they do and how they developed their range ability. ...

--------------------
That seems like a very worthwhile study, and will hopefully produce useful information.

For the 'outliers', there might be other things than what they 'do' - for those individuals I suggest also making a quick visual inspection of lip size and shape.
For example -
Lip size: (maybe use your own as the baseline) 'similar' / 'fleshy' / 'thin'
Lip horizontal width: 'similar' / 'wide' / 'narrow'
Other noticeable variations ...

I look forward to the results!

Jay
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stumac
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2019 1:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

John, extrapolating from my minimum pressure tests to maintain a note the pressure required for Double C would be around 2 1/4 psi, actually I think would be about 3 psi allowing for player and equipment.

At 81 I have a good high C and no wish for anything higher.

Regards, Stuart.
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Ed Kennedy
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2019 4:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

John,
Have you looked into the work that Arnold Jacobs did regarding the physiology of brass playing? He had an array of instruments to measure air pressure, lung capacity and air speed, etc. His biographer, Brian Fredrickson, would be a good source. Tubist Roger Rocco might be another and he is in the Chicago area.
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Derek Reaban
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That sounds really interesting John! I'm looking forward to seeing the results.
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John Mohan
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 06, 2019 1:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

stumac wrote:
John, extrapolating from my minimum pressure tests to maintain a note the pressure required for Double C would be around 2 1/4 psi, actually I think would be about 3 psi allowing for player and equipment.

At 81 I have a good high C and no wish for anything higher.

Regards, Stuart.


At minimum volume I think you're right - around 3 psi for a DHC. When I am not fatigued and the wind is blowing from the right direction I can play a medium volume DHC and I also can generate a measured 3.5 psi. I think someone who can play a loud DHC is going to be able to produce significantly more pressure. We'll see!
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John Mohan
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 06, 2019 1:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ed Kennedy wrote:
John,
Have you looked into the work that Arnold Jacobs did regarding the physiology of brass playing? He had an array of instruments to measure air pressure, lung capacity and air speed, etc. His biographer, Brian Fredrickson, would be a good source. Tubist Roger Rocco might be another and he is in the Chicago area.


Hi Ed,

Yes, I'm very familiar with Jacobs' work - heck, I grew up in Chicago! It was from his research that I learned the fact that it takes an approximate doubling of supplied pressure to climb one octave in pitch at a given volume of sound on any brass instrument. I want to continue what he did.

Cheers,

John
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John Mohan
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 06, 2019 1:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Derek Reaban wrote:
That sounds really interesting John! I'm looking forward to seeing the results.


Me, too!

One of my students is a Biomedical Engineering professor and he and I are planning on collaborating on a formal research study involving this bit of research into thoracic air pressure capabilities of players compared with overall range, and also measuring muscle energy output of all involved muscles in the various registers of the instrument (blowing muscles and embouchure muscles). And probably much more.
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John Mohan
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2019 2:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Long overdue update:

At the Chicago Trumpet Hang several players participated in my informal study and the results were pretty much as I expected. The guys who could play up to or above (a loud) Double High C tended to be able to push at least 160 mm Hg (about 3.1 lb. per square inches) of pressure and those that topped out around High C could not create that level of thoracic air pressure - most of these more typical players were generating around 140 mm Hg.

As we all know, air power is not the only factor involved and this was evidenced by the fact that while I could create the most air pressure (about 180 mm Hg) I could not play the highest full power notes - those honors went to Nick Drozdoff and Adam Velez both of whom could play full power Double C's and in Nick's case a full power Double D (full power being defined as a note of 110 dB or stronger on my iPhone dB app with the phone about one meter from the trumpet's bell). They both could generate about 160 mm Hg of air pressure. My 180 mm Hg could only yield a full power Double A.

Of note, and the reason I thought to add this reply: We spent about a week and a half on a nice road trip vacation to Montana, arriving home late Friday night. During that time I gave one Skype lesson (from Montana) and that was the only time I played my horn from around May 23rd to today. So I thought it would be a great time to see what has happened to my air power and range. Well, it's not all gone, but I've lost more than 10% of my strength. Today, trying as hard as I could, I barely managed to get the needle up to 160 mm Hg. And playing-wise, I can play a full power G but after playing just a few, I couldn't any more. And nothing sounded above the G. Kind of like Cinderella's horses and coach 'round midnight...

I'll try to faithfully practice a balanced routine consisting of flexibilities, a Clarke Technical Study each day, and the Systematic Approach Lesson Two Parts 1 and 2 exercises for the next few weeks and report back any changes.

Again, I don't think it's all about just air power - facial strength and even tongue arch strength are also involved to say nothing about the coordination aspect (though fortunately, coordination is the last thing to go away, as evidenced by how easy it is to ride a bicycle even after years out of the saddle).

Cheers,

John
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JoseLindE4
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2019 7:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fun project. Can we see pictures of your setup?
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razeontherock
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 07, 2019 10:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm really interested in the difference between generating pressure against a closed system vs maintaining said pressure, say on a sustained note; perhaps on an insane combination like a #19 drill into a MF .468 horn.

Many times I've drained a 50' hose with 3/8" ID, seeing how far I could push the water out past the hose just to get it done quicker on one breath. It sure looked like a lot more than 4 psi, I dunno, try it sometime. Sorry I missed the hang, usually it doesn't line up with my schedule.
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lambchop
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 16, 2019 12:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi John, Didn't see your post until now. Maybe you saw my pressure measurements with my reports on the KT course. I was getting to about 2.2 psi continuous pressure for a couple seconds. I don't think that the pressure would change much with the small air flow in an actual playing situation. I did notice that during a burst of air through a straw, I could get considerably higher pressures momentarily than the static 2.2 psi. I plotted data from that trumpet guild paper where they did the measurements. A plot of pressure vs frequency was quite linear as expected. The top note was only high D, so extrapolating gave a double C at just above 2.0 psi. I think that is sort of a minimum pressure which is close to what you are thinking. Getting to 3.5 psi is pretty hard core. I did see Kurt get to about 4.0 psi for a short time going all out.
I want to post that graph sometime when I figure out where to host it.
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kalijah
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 22, 2019 2:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I'm really interested in the difference between generating pressure against a closed system vs maintaining said pressure, say on a sustained note; perhaps on an insane combination like a #19 drill into a MF .468 horn.


Even with relatively open equipment, on a high note the playing aperture is still quite resistive. Not to mention the resistance of instrument, while it may be less, is not that much less than a standard instrument. The pressure is not less simply because there is a bit less total resistance. There may be relatively a bit more air flow and likely a reduction in efficiency.

One of the major myths of the mechanics involved is that increasing resistance results in increased air pressure.

The mechanics of playing the brass instrument are still not widely understood.
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John Mohan
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 18, 2020 2:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kalijah wrote:
One of the major myths of the mechanics involved is that increasing resistance results in increased air pressure.


Hi Darryl,

I'm not sure I understand you. Are you talking about thoracic air pressure? We both know that thoracic air pressure is created by the blowing muscles. But it seems to me that if we blow as hard as we can through our wide open mouths, the thoracic air pressure (meaning the air pressure in our lungs) if measured would be much lower than the thoracic air pressure level if we blow as hard as we can but keep our lips compressed together tightly enough to almost stop the air from escaping.

While resistance does not create air pressure, added resistance can cause air pressure to increase (on the pre-resistance side of the air flow), yes?

Your thoughts on this?

Best wishes,

John
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John Mohan
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 18, 2020 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JoseLindE4 wrote:
Fun project. Can we see pictures of your setup?


Sure!


https://i.postimg.cc/j5nsvbrX/Thoracic-Air-Pressure-Measurement-Device.jpg


This next pictures will show I clear have no sense of shame...


https://i.postimg.cc/T1WpybwT/Thoracic-Air-Pressure-Measurement-Device-2.jpg

Look at how my cheeks are puffing up! That's because I am just blowing and wasn't doing what I actually do when playing the upper register. In this final, equally embarrassing picture I pretended I was playing a high note and I arched my tongue up and forward as I normally do when playing up high, and that channeled the air directly to my lips, keeping my cheeks from puffing out.


https://i.postimg.cc/8C9FTwpZ/Thoracic-Air-Pressure-Measurement-Device-3.jpg
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John Mohan
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 18, 2020 3:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

lambchop wrote:
Hi John, Didn't see your post until now. Maybe you saw my pressure measurements with my reports on the KT course. I was getting to about 2.2 psi continuous pressure for a couple seconds. I don't think that the pressure would change much with the small air flow in an actual playing situation. I did notice that during a burst of air through a straw, I could get considerably higher pressures momentarily than the static 2.2 psi. I plotted data from that trumpet guild paper where they did the measurements. A plot of pressure vs frequency was quite linear as expected. The top note was only high D, so extrapolating gave a double C at just above 2.0 psi. I think that is sort of a minimum pressure which is close to what you are thinking. Getting to 3.5 psi is pretty hard core. I did see Kurt get to about 4.0 psi for a short time going all out.
I want to post that graph sometime when I figure out where to host it.


Hi there,

No, I didn't see that. If the thread is still up I'll have a look at it. Kurt's 4.0 psi compared to my 3.5 psi makes sense to me, given that currently he has about a half octave more range than me. But that said, there were guys at the Chicago Trumpet Hang that could play as high (or even higher than me) that couldn't quite generate as much air pressure as I could - but they were all playing on smaller shallower mouthpieces which does make for easier high notes.

My apologies to all for the late replies - I should have (and will now) checked the "Notify me when reply is posted" box.


Last edited by John Mohan on Tue Feb 18, 2020 3:34 pm; edited 1 time in total
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John Mohan
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 18, 2020 3:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Accidental repeat post (deleted).

Last edited by John Mohan on Tue Feb 18, 2020 3:33 pm; edited 1 time in total
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kalijah
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 18, 2020 3:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

John asked this on this old thread and I never responded. So I will now.

Quote:
While resistance does not create air pressure, added resistance can cause air pressure to increase (on the pre-resistance side of the air flow), yes?


No. If there is already a resistance that limits the flow, increasing the resistance only further limits the flow.

In the case of playing the trumpet, even playing the lowest notes the aperture and instrument tone introduces such significant resistance that the lung air pressure will exist at the boundary where the aperture is.

If one ascends to a higher pitch both the instrument AND the aperture resistance increase. But to increase the air presure can only be accomplished by increasing the blowing effort.

Quote:
But it seems to me that if we blow as hard as we can through our wide open mouths


This scenario never exists while playing the instrument. But it DOES demonstrate the VERY low resistance that exists in the airway from the lungs to the mouth.
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John Mohan
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 18, 2020 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Darryl,

As I think more deeply about what you wrote it now makes sense to me. It seemed that there was more air pressure in my lungs when I added resistance, but what seems to be isn't always so.

For thoracic air pressure to increase due to added resistance, water pressure would have to increase if a nozzle is added to a hose. And we both know that doesn't happen. No matter how restrictive the hose nozzle, though the water will shoot out faster, in a more compact stream, the actual water pressure in the hose cannot and will not rise above the pressure level being supplied by the municipal water supplier.

Best wishes,

John
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kalijah
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 18, 2020 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
It seemed that there was more air pressure in my lungs when I added resistance, but what seems to be isn't always so.


There are resons why it "feels" this way. Especially as compared to normal breathng.

Quote:
For thoracic air pressure to increase due to added resistance, water pressure would have to increase if a nozzle is added to a hose. And we both know that doesn't happen. No matter how restrictive the hose nozzle, though the water will shoot out faster, in a more compact stream, the actual water pressure in the hose cannot and will not rise above the pressure level being supplied by the municipal water supplier.


Or the last pressure regulator. Most home supplies have a regulator that will limit the pressure by the supplier to a smaller amount. You certainly may not want the home system exposed to pressure that it it is not designed for. This also alows the supply line to be quite high and it can drop (due to the viscocity in the event of higher flow) and still be above what the home regulator will pass. This keeps the home water pressure relatively contstant.

In the case of a hose nozzle (or NO nozzle) the long narrow hose can become a significant resistance if the nozzle is removed. If you limit the flow with a narrow nozzle, the pressure just before the nozzle can be restored to near the full regulated pressure. For a "closed" nozzle (zero flow) the presure will be 100 percent.

When playing, the geometry is such that the air path from lungs to aperture is quite wide and relatively short. Such that full lung pressure (or VERY close to it) will bear on the boundary where the aperture is located. Making the aperture resistance greater will not increase the pressure, but the flow will decrease. This is PART of the reason we must blow stronger to ascend while concurrently maintaining loudness level.
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