When I was 16, 3 centuries ago so … lol, I was on a bus with a friend. He had told me about a friend of hers who knew how to breathe nonstop while playing his clarinet. He was trying to show me but he couldn’t remember how she was doing. Which makes me realize that it was the first time I was told about CIRCULAR BREATHING.

At that time, I flashed on the Saxophonist KENNY G (album “G FORCE” – funk) and I was told that he could play and keep a note endlessly, but at the time I didn’t realize the process and power of Circular Breathing !

Whereas today, when I see Didgeridoo players who think they are the only ones practicing Circular Breathing and hold a kind of special “Aura” like the Grail of wind instruments in their hands, I say to them: you guys and come back down to earth !… I explain why.

Yes Circular Breathing is a beautiful and main part of the basics of Didgeridoo when you start. No, Circular Breathing is not only practiced by these same players.

In this video opposite, you will therefore see the great Mister KENNY G make an incredible demonstration of Circular Breathing during a live enooorme… bravo KENNY !

Small parenthesis to also say that KENNY G was one of the first solo musicians in the world to be signed in 1982, on a major company like SONY COLUMBIA… and all thanks to the huge producer CLIVE DAVIS, renowned for being the gifted talent discoverers with among others : Janis Joplin, Bruce Springsteen, Simon & Garfunkel, Santana, Miles Davis, Billy Joel, Barry Manilow, Patti Smith, The Grateful Dead, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Sean Combs, Alicia Keys… nothing only that !!!

And while KENNY G released albums around the world as early as 1980 where he began to tease Circular Breathing… where were we western didgeridoos players with our legendary circular breathing ? Huh ? … The answer is simple : nowhere… nada… nothing ! We were playing with our droppings… simply because we were too young !

On the other hand, on the Indian Ocean side, in Australia, Aboriginal players have been playing didgeridoo for more than 20 000 years and practicing this famous Circular Breathing… magnificent !

You should know that the practice of Circular Breathing brings an incredible trance when one plays a long time of his instrument without stopping. And during this trance, several phenomena take place such as :

  • Start to see in negative and in black and white

  • Getting to the “Black-Out

The term “Black-Out” does not mean that we lose consciousness, but simply the fact that the player can no longer see anything while he has his eyes open while playing . And this phenomenon takes place only after 20 minutes of play without stopping. Personally I’ve had it many times already, and it’s just an incredibly beautiful experience because the sound is overwhelming and you are one with it. A kind of natural drug in short… but you must first practice for a few years before getting there ! This is what KENNY G explains very well in this video opposite…

Here is the video of a typical example of a natural trance due to Circular Respiration, with this radio broadcast from the Canadian COLIN STETSON to the Baritone Saxophone. Watch this video until the end please, because you will see COLIN stop playing and stagger just a few seconds before regaining control… the proof of the trance… magic !!!

The Trumpet player TROMBONE SHORTY also has great fun with his trumpet, such as JAMES CARTER, GEORGE COLEMAN, SONNY ROLLINS, JOHN ZORN, DAVID MURRAY, EVAN PARKER, JOHN SURMAN, JONAH PARZEN-JOHNSON, SAM NEWSOM, FEMI KUTI and  many more !

Our great French tubists and trumpeters FRANCOIS THUILLIER, MARC STECKAR and the great MEDERIC COLLIGNON are also talented professional players who have taken their instrument out of circuses and fanfares to put them at the top of the musical scale of Jazz while accepting that breathing circular was not a toy or an option, but a real technique for learning to breathe and learning to adapt your game for.

It would seem however that the jazz musicians hung more quickly than the musicians of classical music… this is perhaps due to the admiration that the “jazzers” for pure technique.

WYNTON MARSALIS has a lot of fun with circular breathing to the point that he will record the famous title “MOTO PERPETUO” by the Italian composer and violinist NICCOLO PAGANINI (1782-1840) … simply gigantic as a work!

Which leads me to admit that didgeridoo is a drug, a real one! We can play until we no longer know where it is and where we are… it’s too good when I think about it !

CONCLUSION :

Breathing allows us to continuously play our instrument… that, no doubt ! On the other hand, understanding that this technique can lead us to elevate ourselves spiritually requires unprecedented persistence ! Because we may be the best musical technician in the world… without soul we are nothing !

I did not have time to paint a picture of all the famous musicians who practice Circular Breathing. But if you have a few of them for us to discover, well I invite you with pleasure to share your favorites for those who made you dream! Put it all in the comments and I will add them as soon as possible… thank you !

Raphaël Didjaman.