Open embouchure?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Sofus, Aug 13, 2008.

  1. Sofus

    Sofus Forte User

    Jul 26, 2008
    Hello, trumpet lovers!

    I sometimes read about players claiming to play with an "open embouchure".
    When playing or buzzing the parts of the lips that buzz will switch between open and closed with a mean value of "semi open". If the lips don´t close entirely in the "closed" phase, the tone should be leaky and lacking overtones (the strength of overtones actually depend on how fast the lips perform the closed phase).

    So what does an "open embouchure" mean?

    * Does it mean that the lips never close entirely,
    * or maybe that the player keep them slightly apart
    at the moment of attack
    * or something else?

    A singer who would have vocal cords not closing entirely in the closed phase would sound hoarse ad with weak overtones.
    Does anyone believe that this doesn´t apply for trumpeters playing with lips always more or less open?
  2. Al Innella

    Al Innella Forte User

    Aug 9, 2007
    Levittown , NY
    Hi Sofus I don`t know about open embouchures. Maybe they are talking about apertures. I myself play without an aperture and let the air buzz the lips with the upper lip over the lower lip and the lower lip over the bottom teeth.
  3. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    I've never heard of an "open embouchure," but I've heard of a "spread embouchure," in which the lips are held apart by mouthpiece pressure. A player can get a real "fat" tone this way, but can't get to the higher notes because the lips are spread apart.

    Being a huge fan of evolution over revolution, I promote practicing at a pppp level and without a tongued attack. The idea is that we can create any tone we want without brute force.

    If we are efficient, we can do amazing things.

    Good luck!
  4. jsimpher

    jsimpher New Friend

    Aug 10, 2008
    I'm pretty sure it is just a way to play relaxed. I have been working on my upper register and endurance, and playing with what feels like an "open embouchure" helps extensively. Before, I would have trouble getting through a 4 hour gig, but now I have plenty of juice to go on. I have found that if you just mess around with the horn and find the easiest way for you to play the instrument, then it takes little to no effort. Even while playing insanely loud high G's.
  5. Sofus

    Sofus Forte User

    Jul 26, 2008

    So there are a few expressions including the word "open" that maybe need to be cleared out.

    I quite agree to what you say about messing around with your horn, jsimpher. By just having fun and "playing when playing" a relaxed approach to the whole thing will occur.
  6. Zlatko

    Zlatko New Friend

    Apr 26, 2008
    Ajax, Ontario
    Sofus, here is what it means to me. Anyone please correct me if I'm wrong, I'm a novice.

    In the book “The Art of Brass Playing”, Phillip Farkas describes what I think is meant by an open embouchure. He says imagine a dough-nut between two planes of glass. The two panes represent teeth and the mouthpiece but you have to imagine clear glass so you can see what’s going on. The dough-nut hole is your aperture. The only way to get the dough-nut hole to closed is to apply pressure on the glass and squash the wonderful pastry. The only way to play with an open aperture is to squeeze it closed with pressure. I used to play this way. The pressure does not always have to be great, which is why as a beginner I thought there was nothing wrong with it. The open embouchure has problems with range and endurance which is why it should be avoided. I’m about 6 weeks into a new embouchure based on applying the mouthpiece to closed lips just like the beginner books say to do. At first the tone was poor, but it’s improving and notes speak when I want them to and I play with less pressure. To move from an open to closed embouchure you should practice lip buzzing for a few weeks, maybe a month as directed by Pops on Index of /1-50 .

    If you’re using the mouthpiece as support for you lips then the embouchure is open. If you pull the mouthpiece away while playing and you feel your lips slam shut, then you’re playing open.
  7. Sofus

    Sofus Forte User

    Jul 26, 2008
    Good points there, Zlatco!

    When you use the word "open" you actually mean OPEN.

    Feels like there is room for further discussion . . . .
  8. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    instead of worrying about "open" which is not good, just concentrate on what is good: practice alot and that softly in a relaxed manner.

    The lips will not close completely when one does not practice enough, uses too much pressure, practices too loudly or tongues too heavily.

    Control, tone quality, dynamics and great articulation are most easily attained below pianissimo.
  9. Sofus

    Sofus Forte User

    Jul 26, 2008
    I agree!

    I´m not at all worried about "open", I simply put this post to start a discussion since I suspect that the word "open" in connection with "embouchure", "aperture" etc. is being used without a general agreement of what EXACTLY is being meant. By the answers so far it seems that a discussion won´t hurt . . .
  10. ConnAir55

    ConnAir55 New Friend

    Jul 30, 2008
    ....hmmmmmm I have used an "open" apeture (forever) and get an excellent (another trumpet bragger)sound, without endurance or range problems. If I need to get into the upper range the lips do come together for faster vibration. The key is always to relax the muscles that don't need to be tight, allowing smooth unrestricted flow. Lip pressure has to be lip to lip pressure not mouthpiece to lip pressure. As soon as your lips swell up, all your overtones and stamina dissappear.

Share This Page