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Laurence Libin

Technique employed by wind players to produce a continuous melody or a single, very prolonged sound without interruption to draw breath. The player’s lungs, under diaphragm pressure, inflate the mouth cavity, causing the puffed cheeks to act as a wind reservoir in the manner of a bagpipe’s bag. With the soft palate closed, the cheek muscles force air into the instrument; when this air is nearly exhausted, the player inhales in short, deep intakes through the nose to replenish the lungs. Especially applied to reed instruments but also to such varied winds as conch and Tibetan thigh-bone trumpets, the technique is widespread in folk music traditions; it gained currency in jazz during the 1950s and 1960s, notably in performances by the saxophonists Harry Carney and Roland Kirk, and later by Kenny G. The technique, which admits minor variation, is increasingly required for modern compositions, but players sometimes employ it as an impressive trick (saxophonist Geovanny Escalante has reportedly held a single note for about 90 minutes) or to enable performance of music originally written for bowed strings and requiring long, continuous phrases. Rumours that circular breathing can cause lung damage are unsubstantiated. See ...


Anne Beetem Acker


Electronic music player that accompanies singers with pre-recorded music. The name comes from Japanese, kara (‘empty’) and oke (‘orchestra’). The basic karaoke machine includes some form of music player, a built-in audio mixer, microphone inputs, and audio outputs. The first karaoke systems included a microphone, eight-track tape player, amplifier, loudspeaker, and printed songbooks. Later machines display the lyrics on a video screen, and the more expensive versions can adjust the pitch level to suit the singer without changing tempo (some early systems allowed for changing the pitch but only by changing the tape speed, altering the tempo). Some early 21st-century versions include an Auto-Tune audio processor to correct intonation and software for making music videos. Karaoke systems for public spaces often are integrated into a pedestal that holds the controls, song storage, microphones, and video display, with separate loudspeakers. Portable systems resemble portable CD players, with or without a video screen. Wireless-microphone karaoke systems by companies such as Entertech use television or entertainment consoles for both audio and video. Video-game versions allow singers/players to receive scores or perform ‘with’ famous bands, sometimes as an animated character onscreen....