Date: Tue, 14 May 2002 19:26:13 +0000
From: "Nicholas Drozdoff" <>
Subject: Re: Yet more lip stuff!  - from Thomas Moore (ITG Science Editor)

Hello again folks!

What follows is a response to my query put to Thomas Moore, the Science Editor of the ITG Journal.  I decided to post the whole thing because of the implied attack being made upon Tom Rossing.  BTW, I know Rossing personally.

He has been a help to me via physics teacher organizations in which we are members.  Also, after I finished my music masters in trumpet performance, I did my post graduate study to get certified to teach physics and instrumental music at NIU in DeKalb.  Rossing is a professor out there.  He is a very decent fellow and works diligently WITH musicians to minimize the sort of schism that forms between musicians and scientists.  Here is Moore's email.


It is good to hear from you again. It is interesting that this is such a controversial topic. I recently received an email from Pat Harbison asking me to comment on a very similar argument going on at I'm not sure where the misunderstanding comes from, but clearly it is out there. Naturally, the idea that Tom Rossing is a fraud is ludicrous.

You are, of course, correct in stating that the lips actually buzz during play and from what you describe it appears that you have a solid understanding of what is going on physically. It turns out that this is an easy argument to settle. In 1942 D.W. Martin filmed the movement of a player's lips through a Plexiglas mouthpiece showing conclusively the buzzing movement (Journal of the Acoustical Society of America Vol. 13, pp. 305-308 (1942)). This type of experiment has been repeated several times since then. To my knowledge, the latest report of this type of study was just last year. At the International Symposium on Musical Acoustics last fall Shigeru Yoshikawa and Yoko Muto from the Kyushu Institute of Design reported on using a high speed camera to study the differences in lip movement between beginning and professional French horn players. The opening and closing of the lips is very obvious in these films as it has been in previous work.

The real question is not IF the lips buzz, but HOW they buzz. Currently there is much research involved in determining the most accurate model: outward striking and upward striking are the two most widely used models. I believe that most researchers are coming to the conclusion that a hybrid model is best, but which one is the more accurate depends on who is playing the horn. The results of Yoshikawa and Yoko seem to indicate that a full three dimensional model is necessary if you really want to accurately model the details.

Hope this helps a little. Feel free to quote me if you think it necessary, but I'm  sure that anyone who would not believe Tom Rossing will not believe me.

Take care,
- --
Thomas R. Moore
Department of Physics
Rollins College