Research on Breath Support

Isabelle Cossette
Assistant Professor,
McGill University,
Department of Theory,
555 Sherbrooke St. West,
Montreal, Qc
H3A 1 E3
tel. (514) 398-4535 ext 089797
fax (514) 398-8061

I. Cossette 1, A. Aliverti 2, A. Lo Mauro 2, R. Dellaca 2, A. Pedotti 2 and P. T. Macklem 1. 1 McGill University, Montreal, Qc, Canada and 2 Dept. Bioingegneria, Politecnico di Milano, Milano, Italy .

Rationale. There is controversy in the musical field about breath support (S) and what muscles are being recruited to achieve it. We measured respiratory parameters and recorded sound (So) during professional flute playing in order to assess what physiological processes were associated with S. Methods. Four standing young professional flautists played excerpts from the standard flute repertoire with S and without S (NS). Recordings included opto-electronic plethysmographic measurements of chest wall (cw) volume (Vcw) and its compartments: lung and diaphragm apposed ribcage, and the abdomen (Vrc,p, Vrc,a, Vab) using 6 infra-red video cameras filming 89 reflective markers on the thorax at 100Hz, surface electromyography (emg), at 1000Hz, scalene (Esca), transverse (Etra), rectus abdominus (Erec), parasternal (Epar) and sternocleido-mastoids (Este), mouth pressure (Pm), So during playing. Flow (V) was measured during quiet breathing and vital capacity and estimated by differentiating Vcw during playing. Diaphragm emg (Edi), esophageal (Pes) and gastric (Pga) pressures and cw distortion were measured in one subject. Emg signals were integrated, rectified and the area under the curve was compared within subjects.

Results. All subj. displaced cw compartments differently between S and NS. For all subj., at least one of Vrc,p, Vrc,a, or Vab remained constant for a longer period during S than during NS. V was bigger and started more abruptly in NS than in S. Esca of 3 subj. and Etra of 4 subj. show distinct increased activity during playing S. In 3 subj., Pm shows finer variations during S than during NS. Este tended to be increased during S but varied more between subj. We believe that support entails finer control of Pm achieved by activation of inspiratory muscles, the scalenes, requiring greater recruitment of transverse expiratory muscles.

Funded By: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Click here to return to the schedule/abstract listing