Didgeridoo with Magnetic Resonance Imaging 1

These are the first impressions of a work that I am involved in. I have been working with some Speech Therapeuts from a Voice School from Porto, Portugal.
The idea is to understand and study how can the didgeridoo be an important tool when working with people that need to re-educate and/or learn how to use the breathing and/or speech organs.

Several ways of analisys will be used in this study with time. The first was Magnetic Resonance Imaging, through which we can get 2D and 3D representations of the inside of the body.

Later we will explain the protocol used for this specific study but for now I want to share some of the images we were able to collect and some comments on them.

Please consider that this was the first test, although I made a PVC didgeridoo with a 90degree mouthpiece, it didn’t fit perfectly with the equipment used to immobilize the head and act as an antenna for the signal. Normally the pacient should use two of this devices, one in front of the face and another one on the neck. This last one had to be avoided and this interfered with the quality of the images on the larynx level.

So, with all this in mind and knowing that we will explain and study these and more images in the future here are some interesting images to look at.

Some basic vowels, I used the portuguese/french/spanish vowels: A, I, O, U. It is difficult for me to give and idea of the sound of the A in english fonetics, but the others could be “translated” as:
I – EE
U – OO



TI or TEE:
Note how the tongue goes forward and completely changes the mouth shape.



TO or TAW:
Quite similar to TA.


TO or TAW with full cheeks:
The technique is the same but since I’m using my cheeks filled with air, there is a difference in the tongue shape and position in order to keep the same sound.


TU or TOO:
The tongue goes to a position more similar to a whistle.


First Toot:
Because of my position I was only able to play the first toot and it was difficult to maintain a stable position but it is easy to see the differences between the toot and the drone.

We also did a video of the circular breathing in a rhythm.

The machine couldn’t do more than a few frames per second so the image is no so fluid but you can get a good idea of what is happening.

In this video I’m playing a basic structure I use with all my students:
1        2      3        4
Tow   Ee   Oom  Wo

In the first and second beat the cheeks are empty, on the third they are filled with air and on the fourth they are emptied while breathing in. Also note that after the first bar, we starting using Kow as the first beat instead of Tow because it’s more intuitive to go from Wo (breath) to Kow (articulation with back of the tongue) instead of Tow (articulation with tip of the tongue).

The video is not yet very clear but we will make a better version of it in the near future.

For now we just wanted to share this first images with all the didgeridoo and therapeutic community and invite everybody to participate with comments, suggestions and ideas as we will continue studying the impact of this wonderful instrument in the human body.

Thank you for reading this.

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