Circular breathing allows musicians to sustain notes without pausing, such as when playing Mongolian shawm, Australian didgeridoo, Sardinian launeddas or traditional Asian oboes and flutes.
Mastering this technique takes some practice, but the effort will definitely pay off – much like when babies can sucking their thumb for hours on end!
Table of Contents
Circular breathing allows a musician to play long sustained notes without ever needing to stop and take a breath, though this skill can take months or years to learn. Simply, circular breathing involves inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth while using cheeks as air reserves – breathing in through one nostril while pushing air out via your other; creating continuous sustained notes by having both lungs fill and deflate at once which creates the sound of continuous music notes.
Circular breathing dates back centuries, and has long been utilized by musicians to produce unique sounds. Early examples of circular breathing can be found among glassblowing artisans using tubes to inflate lumps of molten glass; thirteenth-century Mongolian metal workers also mastered this skill, blowing into tubes that melted gold and silver. Now musicians use the technique when playing various instruments including Egyptian arghuls, Sardinian launeddas flutes and many traditional Asian flutes all producing continuous drone sounds; expert didgeridoo players can keep this going for hours producing haunting yet soothing drone sounds which many can find very soothing.
Circular breathing can be especially helpful when playing wind instruments that cannot sustain tones as long as stringed instruments like violins can. Flutists have even used this approach to play music composed for string instruments that would otherwise have been unplayable on wind instruments without circular breathing.
While circular breathing can be used in any musical genre, its most prevalent use can be seen in classical and jazz. Geovanny Escalante holds the world record for playing nonstop notes for 90 minutes on his soprano saxophone while using circular breathing; other famous musicians who use this technique include Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Kenny G, trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, trombonist Trombone Shorty as well as pop and rock singers like Kate Miller-Heidke and Wim Mertens have included this technique into their performances as well.
When eighth-graders play “Flight of the Bumblebee” without pausing on the flute, they are using a technique developed centuries ago by metal workers known as circular breathing. While this skill requires much practice to become proficient at, once you do master it it allows players to play continuously for hours on end.
The basic idea behind this method is using your cheeks as an air bridge between exhalations cycles. First, when their lungs are empty they puff out their cheeks to expel as much air as possible before quickly taking in air through their nose in order to reload their lungs and then blowing it out through their instrument before repeating this cycle again.
Skilled players can repeat this cycle hundreds of times every minute. That is why they can hold notes so long – Aidan Brown set the record for longest continuous note on alto saxophone by playing 47 minutes and 5 1/2 seconds nonstop!
Circular breathing can be used with any breath-powered instrument, from bagpipes and saxophones to flutes and wind instruments requiring large volumes of air to produce sound, but is particularly advantageous when performing Tuvan throat singing. Circular breathing has even become part of some choir performances!
Circular breathing can not only provide practical applications, but can also help players feel more at ease while playing music. By relieving tension in their neck, back, jaw and other muscle tension, circular breathing makes lengthy musical passages much simpler to perform while also making higher notes more manageable than they would be using regular breath alone.
Circular breathing takes a considerable amount of practice to perfect, and beginners should not attempt this technique until they have gained enough proficiency on their instruments. Beginning too soon could result in strain and an unfunny sound; but once learned it can make playing the flute so much more rewarding and fun!
Circular breathing (CB), commonly used by musicians and composers alike, keeps oxygen flowing continuously through the body without interruption. This allows musicians to keep playing wind instruments without needing to stop for breath breaks every few seconds; creating more complex rhythms with greater variety. CB can also be an effective method of soothing nervous people as it encourages deep slow breaths that can calm the mind and reduce stress levels.
Unsuspecting onlookers might be shocked to learn that this technique was created by professional wind instrumentalists! Breathing techniques have become essential skills for many types of wind instruments as well as singers in maintaining tones for extended periods. Breathing exercises also benefit both mind and body during meditation practices.
Circular breathing may sound easy, but mastery takes practice. The idea behind it is simple – blow air out of your lungs as normal until almost empty, then push the last bit into your cheeks by inhaling through your nose to bring more air back in via puffing them out and pushing through again as inhaled through nose, filling lungs with new air from cheeks before inhaling to fill back lungs again and repeat cycle until your cheeks fill back up with fresh air from lungs – though initially this may cause noticeable bumps in tone between breathing sessions – however this should improve over time with practice!
An accomplished saxophonist who has mastered circular breathing can play for extended stretches without pausing to take in air. Professional wind players use this technique, making music that would otherwise not have been possible without it. Circular breathing is also crucial when playing didgeridoo, Launeddas Sardienses and other traditional instruments from around the world.
This technique can also help ease anxiety disorders by relieving tension in both body and mind. When used along with alternate nostril breathing (Nadi Shodhana), which activates the parasympathetic nervous system and calms body and mind simultaneously, this method has proven invaluable in managing anxiety disorders.
A 16-year-old tuba player from Orillia, Ontario has used circular breathing to set a world record by playing one note for five uninterrupted minutes without interruption – breaking Kenny G’s previous 45 minute mark as Afrobeat legend! Circular breathing enabled this impressive achievement which began as an individual challenge set out by him to improve his grades in school music class.
Many musicians who play wind instruments have developed the ability to sustain a continuous tone for extended periods by employing circular breathing. This technique has allowed them to create musical passages and effects not possible otherwise, breaking various records on instruments like the shawm, Australian didgeridoo, Sardinian launeddas and traditional Asian flutes and oboes – including Jazz musicians like Rahsaan Roland Kirk, trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and trombonist Trombone Shorty; classical musicians such as Eugene Rousseau, clarinetist Martin Frost and Marcel Tabuteau are among those using circular breathing techniques as well.
Circular breathing is an invaluable skill for anyone playing wind instruments, particularly those who wish to extend the length of their phrases beyond what their lung capacity allows. Furthermore, circular breathing can come in handy when performing orchestral music such as Saint-Saens Symphony No. 6.
Circular breathing is an accessible process for any musician to master. A musician must fill their lungs fully before exhaling while squeezing their cheeks, then release that air through both nose and mouth simultaneously. They should ensure to quickly refill their lungs by inhaling through their nose before any air runs out; or else there will be an abrupt disruption of sound quality.
Music teachers should emphasize the importance of keeping a steady pitch when teaching circular breathing to their students, by tightening and loosening their embouchures accordingly. While some students may initially struggle with maintaining a stable pitch while learning this technique, repeated practice will help students reach that point naturally.