Embouchure

I have tried to sort out some common embouchures. There are of course many other variants in between.
In the drawings, the circle indicates the primary resistance, the arrows the direction of aperture movement and amount of air pressure/feedback.

Maggio embouchure

Rolling the lips outwards, like a kiss, this is the position I use for pedals when playing them in a relaxed fashion. Some methods recommend that you keep this pedal embouchure throughout the range.

The rolling out provides the necessary resistance for high register playing.

By rolling out the lips, the sound gets rich and dark because of the soft inner membrane vibrating and the roundish aperture that is formed. The downsides of this embouchure are the difficulty of playing softly and a tendency to get an airy sound in the lower and middle registers.

The lips will protrude into the mouthpiece so that it feels smaller. Using a shallow cup, the player will have a tendency to bottom out.

Lips are the primary source of resistance. Rolling out the lips results in the aperture closing from mouthpiece feedback. This can be compensated either by using more open equipment, opening the aperture more or reducing the air pressure.

Some scream players use this method successfully.

I think this way of playing is humorously illustrated by the Maggio Monkey. Another method book describing this in detail is Trumpet Yoga by Jerome Callet. 

Farkas embouchure

This is the configuration that very many trumpet players use. The lips are neither rolled in or out. There is a combination of a smile and pucker (puckered smile) which will create a taut chin.

The lips have little resistance when they are not curled. Because of this, the lips tend to be blown apart in high registers and much arm pressure have to be used just in order to seal the embouchure.
A solution to this problem, is raising the tongue, which reduces the pressure on the lips. The tongue will be raised all the way in the extreme register, so that it touches the molars and the top of the mouth.
The procedure of reducing pressure by raising the tongue is described by Claude Gordon in his mouthpiece chapter. (What he did not explain, was that the tongue must be raised all the way up to the roof of the mouth in order to create any significant resistance.)

The sound can be very nice with core and a good balance of harmonics. This happens when there is a good balance from smiling and puckering, creating an oval aperture.

The lips will protrude slightly into the mouthpiece, so some players will bottom out on shallow mouthpieces.

The Farkas embouchure without raising the tongue.
The mouthpiece is the primary source of resistance. The player must pinch and use arm pressure to compensate for too high internal pressure on the lips.

The Farkas embouchure when raising the tongue.
The tongue is the primary resistance source. The aperture must open up to compensate for lost volume. Arm pressure can be lessened.

This Farkas embouchure is used by most classical players. The downside is that it takes much practise to develop range.

A very detailed description of this embouchure is found in the Farkas book

The Farkas problem

If playing with a neutral or bunched chin, the center of the lower lip is supported by the chin muscles. This assists in closing the aperture.

But the Farkas method recommends a taut chin, as used by horn players. While this seems to work fine with the French horn, trumpet players doing this sometimes end up with severe trouble. The taut chin pulls the center of the lower lip downwards, opening the aperture. This is counter productive to the efficiency principle, and should therefore be avoided.

(There are many horror stories about trumpet players, having ruined themselves this way.) 

Stevens embouchure

The essence of the Stevens embouchure, is rolling in the lips. It can happen gradually, more rolling in the higher one plays, or one can use curled in lips for all registers. An open jaw position will allow the lips to roll in freely. The chin will not be taut as with the Farkas embouchure. Pinching is the main controlling mechanism of this embouchure.

The rolling in creates the necessary resistance. Playing this way, raising the tongue might not be needed. The degree of rolling in regulates the resistance to a much greater extent than any other method. An advantage of this embouchure, is that stiffer parts of the lips vibrate, making higher notes possible.
Because of this rolling in, the lips will tolerate higher levels of air pressure before collapsing into the mouthpiece. The aperture must be opened up because the aperture will tend to close due to the curling in of the lips. Farkas describes this as a "swing door effect", the more air one supplies, the tighter the embouchure will get. One disadvantage with the Stevens embouchure is the problem of playing softly.

Because of the rolling in, the sound quality is much brighter than the Farkas embouchure. To compensate for the flat aperture, the corners must be brought inwards for rounding it somewhat.

The lips will not protrude into the cup of the mouthpiece, making the mouthpiece feel bigger. Because the lips are not sticking into the mouthpiece, extremely shallow mouthpieces and rims without bite can be played, Maynard Ferguson does this. The trumpet player can also use smaller rim diameters than if using other embouchures, still being out of the red.

Lips are the primary resistance. The rolling in will cause the lips to close more the harder one blows. To compensate if the lips are too closed, one can either use more open equipment, open the aperture more or reduce the air pressure.

The Stevens embouchure is said to be the most common scream embouchure.

This embouchure is often named the Stevens embouchure after a famous embouchure teacher. A good description of this way of playing is found in the book The No Nonsense Trumpet from A-Z

Rolled in lower lip

By rolling the lower lip under the top lip, high notes can be easier.

Because the lips are tucked over each other, resistance is created, making the high registers easier.

The sound is thinner and more penetrating when playing this way.

This is the embouchure setting recommended by MacBeth in the Maggio method. (I don't know if this is the embouchure used by Maggio himself.)
Another successful player using this embouchure is Walt Johnson

Rolling in the upper lip

The results of rolling in the upper lip are somewhat similar to rolling in the lower lip.

The main difference is that it is the lip that vibrates the most that is rolled in. This makes the vibrating area get smaller, allowing higher notes to be played and smaller diameter mouthpieces to be used.

I know of one particular player that plays like this with excellent results. 

Superchops embouchure

The Superchops method is described by Jerome Callet. The embouchure is very similar to the Stevens embouchure, except the aperture will move up in front of the upper teeth by bunching the chin.

Resistance is provided by letting the lower lip slide up onto the top teeth.

The aperture tend to get flat because of the pinching of the lips, resulting in a bright sound. The degree of bringing in the corners will make a rounder aperture and sound.

Some screamers are using this method with great success.

This embouchure is described in detail in Callet's Superchops method. Very similar to Superchops, is the Screamin method.


Copyright (c) Rune Aleksandersen 1997 - 2002