Peter R Egbert: Real-time magnetic resonance imaging of the vocal tract during harmonica pitch bends

Wed, 02/27/2013 - 5:15pm - 7:00pm
CCRMA Classroom, The Knoll 2nd floor, Rm 217
Event Type: 

Skilled harmonica players learn to bend the pitch of certain notes by a semitone or more, especially in blues playing, by adjusting the shape of their vocal tract.  The changes of the vocal tract have been partially viewed with endoscopy and ultrasound but are still incompletely understood. MRI studies have not been done previously.  I will present results of a recent Stanford MRI study of a professional harmonica player using nonmagnetic, MRI-compatible diatonic harmonicas playing draw and blow notes in both unbent and bent positions. Three-dimensional static and 2-dimensional real-time magnetic resonance images of the upper airway were recorded in the sagittal and coronal planes. We identified and characterized the static and dynamic changes that facilitated pitch bends for low and high notes with specific attention to embouchure, tongue positioning, and airway shape.  


Peter R Egbert  graduated from Yale Medical School.  He is a Professor of Ophthalmology at Stanford University and avid student of the harmonica. His recent research is on MRI of the vocal tract during harmonica playing with Thomas Rossing, David Barrett and Lewis Shin.

Open to the Public
Syndicate content