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Embouchure

The embouchure is the shaping of the lips to the mouthpiece of a wind instrument. Less frequently, it is used to mean the mouthpiece itself.

The proper embouchure allows the instrumentalist to play the instrument at its full range with a full, clear tone and without strain or damage to one's muscles.

Brass embouchure

At the beginning of the 20th century, two French trumpet technique books, authored by Joseph Arban[?], and St. Jacome, were translated into English for use by American players. Due to a misunderstanding arising from differences in pronunciation between French and English, the commonly used brass embouchure in Europe was interpreted incorrectly. Although the original technique was used intuitively by great players of the past century, contemporary music schools teach the mistranslated embouchure, which has become the dominant form today. Some attribute this difference in embouchure technique as the reason the great players of the past were able to play at the level of technical virtuosity which they did.

The common method of brass embouchure today consists of tensing the corner of one's mouth and buzzing the lips, while pressing the mouthpiece against the lips, and pinning the lips between the mouthpiece and the teeth. The tongue then moves back and forth behind the teeth, striking the area along the top of the back of the upper teeth for the creation of each separate note (known as the "attack." This technique tends to require a large mouthpiece as well as a small or medium bore instrument to produce a reasonably full sound, and often results in sore and tired lips.

The original embouchure for brass instruments, as taught by Joseph Arban[?] a century ago (and detailed in Joseph Arban's "Complete Conservatory Method for Trumpet") consists of the tongue remaining forward and through the teeth at all times. The corners of the mouth always remain relaxed, and only a small amount of air is then used. The top and bottom lips then curl inward and grip the forward tongue. The tongue will force the teeth, and subsequently the throat, wide open, resulting in a bigger, more open sound. The forward tongue resists the pressure of the mouthpiece, controls the flow of air for lower and higher notes, and protects the lips and teeth from damage or injury from mouthpiece pressure. This technique facilitates the use of a smaller mouthpiece, and larger bore instruments.

Jerome Callet is the only known musician who currently teaches this technique in the United States.

Flute embouchure

A variety of flute embouchures are employed by professional flautists, though the most natural form is perfectly symmetrical, the corners of the mouth relaxed, the lower lip placed along and at a short distance from the embouchure hole.


External links and references

Flute Embouchure Photos (http://mypage.uniserve.ca/~lwk/embpic.htm)
Jerome Callet's Superchops Embouchure Clinic (http://www.super-chops.com/)



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