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The Longest Note Record Gets Broken, Or Maybe Not

(SOUNDBITE OF SAXOPHONE)

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

That is the sound of a world record being broken. It's Afrobeat musician Femi Kuti breaking Kenny G's world record. As you may have gathered, it is the record for longest continuous note held on a wind instrument. It happened last weekend.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

For the record, Kenny G held his note for 45 minutes and 47 seconds, but Femi Kuti took it all the way to 46 minutes and 38 seconds.

MARTIN: So congratulations to Kuti, right? Nope. Turns out Kenny G's world record was broken 17 years ago.

INSKEEP: Oh.

(SOUNDBITE OF SAXOPHONE)

MARTIN: Broken by Vann Burchfield, a saxophonist in Birmingham, Ala. You're seeing him now.

INSKEEP: Now, Vann was a big Kenny G fan and did not want to make a big deal out of his Guinness world record of 47 minutes and 6 seconds.

VANN BURCHFIELD: I knew that I had broke the record. I contacted a few local radio stations here in Birmingham, Ala. But just out of respect, I guess, for him, I just let the record stand as it was.

MARTIN: And then along comes Femi Kuti, knowing nothing of Vann Burchfield and his record. Kuti blew past Kenny G's record and went away a champ - for one night, anyway.

FEMI KUTI: In the morning, everybody woke up and said, oh, there's another record - 47.5. I said, why didn't you all say this? I could have done it. Now, it's very boring.

INSKEEP: I could have done it, he says, although it's not easy. Your lungs start to hurt, we're told. Your lips hurt. The technique used by all three musicians is called circular breathing.

KUTI: You store your air in your cheeks. And you have to slowly release the air while breathing at the same time.

MARTIN: Kuti says he's going to try again - this Sunday, in fact. And Vann Burchfield has some tips.

BURCHFIELD: I used a C-sharp. My fingers do not have to press any of the keys, so that my fingers would not start cramping.

KUTI: Yes. Oh, his technique was very good technique. The mistake I am making is I'm holding my fingers, but I can't go back to using - because it's too late. Because have to find excitement in that note. I have found excitement in the A.

INSKEEP: You have to be excited to go more than 45 minutes on a single note.

MARTIN: Makes sense, yeah.

INSKEEP: In any case, Mr. Burchfield, the current holder of the record, doesn't seem all that worried about losing it.

BURCHFIELD: Guinness has actually cancelled this category, and they are not accepting any attempts to break my Guinness World Record.

MARTIN: But he tweeted at Femi, saying keep pressing on. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.