Monday, July 5, 2010

Week 2 of the Frequency Bone Summer Music Connection 2

Embouchure and Air, is it a good marriage?




Many times our concepts help shape our playing apparatus. In this case, I of course mean the structure and mechanism of the embouchure and the way we operate our inhales and exhales.

I have seen people who have a concept that does not match their physiology. This creates great conflict and an unnatural feeling in the person.

Some body types and character types do not fully support certain sound concepts. A huge deep wide sound might be what some player wants but it might not be 'them' at the level of their physical framework. Getting bigger equipment might not help either but could actually make it worse! At other times the reason why a player may change equipment could be very useful. In the end, sound production needs to have a natural ease about it and, if it does, that would be a sign of a certain coordination between concept and physiology (and equipment).

If a person has a very tight concentrated mouthpiece sound, that can potentially have the making of a very full resonant quality, if they have a good amount of air to pass through that set up. If not, the quality of the sound might be leaner and not resonate too much of the lower overtone spectrum. As I have said at other times, air speed and temperature come into this. A slower warmer air speed can help the person with a very tight mouthpiece sound to fill out and open up the vibration. The reverse is true of the person with a wide more porous mouthpiece sound where a cooler faster air speed can bring more high overtones into the sound with, of course, a combination of other kinds of exercises. Different syllables also can aid or detract from this process. The syllable OH, is not always useful in making a sound have more size or openness. Depending on the factors of lip vibration quality and air pressure-speed and temperature, OH might be the most inefficient syllable to work with (especially in cases where the sound suffers from lack of center and ring).

I said in the video that efficiency can help broaden one's scope of color, nuance and inflection by the fact a person would have more control to do what they would want. This came up in relation to building more efficiency by practicing softly in a variety of ways. To make this clearer, let's use the example of an oboe player.

An oboe does not have the decibel scope of a brass instrument. So, the oboist needs to make a lot out of a little! Each variation needs to be very vivid. This is done not just by decibel contrast but by nuance and inflections that are hopefully originating from a connected musical intent.

If you have a clear and steady bowl of water, it does not take much movement to cause a ripple does it? If our sound can have that same kind of focus and fluidity, then we have the option of saying a lot without the need of a great wide decibel level. This puts us in a position to create more using less. Sounds very efficient!

Keeping the embouchure intact with good form in the corners and upper and lower lip contact can keep us playing at a good level for many years, for even when we age and find that our air capacity might decrease, we can know that we have an embouchure (in conjunction with musical feelings and nuances) to keep making music full of contrasts and expression.

4 comments:

king4bslide_2 said...

hello norman,
i like to know more about emboucher and air.i have an emboucher problem because when im playing, much air goes out to the side of my mouth with saliva.then theres so much movement of my lips especially in fast passages.another thing norman,is musician dystonia true? because my observation to my emboucher is that its shaking when im playing trombone just like the video of musician emboucher with dystnia.how can i overcome it.please help me norman to my playing problems.I want to improve my playing skills in the trombone because its my passion.Im mike from the philippines,34 years old and also a trombone player.Hoping to hear from you soon. thanks and God Bless.

king4bslide_2 said...

hello norman,Im mike from the Philippines ,34 years old and also a trombone player.I like your blog.keep it up! God Bless!

Norman Bolter said...

Hello Mike,
I am sorry to be late in answering your question about your embouchure and dystonia. It is a complex question and yes, brass players can get it. I would need to see your embouchure and observe what is taking place. I can give you some questions you can ask yourself which might help a little bit. First, when did this start to happen to you? Are there notes where air and saliva do not come out of the sides of your mouth? Is there a speed which you can play where your embouchure does not shake? When does your embouchure begin to shake? Let me know. Also, maybe we can set up a way on skype or iChat where I can actually see some of what is taking place. Please be in touch Mike. Blessings to you!

michael said...

hello norman,
it started last 1999 when one morning when i will blow my horn for practice then i felt like i couldnt find where will i place my mouthpiece to my emboucher then my bandsmate noticed it also when i start playing he said to me whats happening to you!i notice that when im playing middle notes (sol to sol pedal)that is the time where much air and saliva comes out compared to high notes.then i cant play high notes accurately compared to low middle notes.then my tonguing sucks as if i have no tongue as if im starting to play trombone.my emboucher starts to shake when i play la to si(a to e)and when our band master tune-up my instruments.