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confused about embouchure

marc1024

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29
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Belgium
After a long break, 9 months ago I started playing again.
Before starting I read up on embouchure and saw a lot of recomendations
about not biting and having the seal on your mouthpiece as loose as possible,
in order to let the reed vibrate as best as possible.
Also the bottom lip should not be rolled over the teeth too much, also to let the reed vibrate better
I started playing in this way, but soon I got problems with playing stacato notes.
Also my lips got tired quickly, and the more I practiced, the worse my tone got

In order to overcome this, I decided to take some lessons to get me back on track.
The first remarks I got from the teacher were that my emboure was too loose and that I should
roll my bottom lipp over my teeth much more in order to get better control over the reed.

For me this was a big change, and at first it felt as if I could not play a decent note anymore,
even to a point that I was about to give it all up.
Now after a long struggle, I start to get a decent tone again, with a much more firm embouchure,
and I also moved up reed strenght from 2.5 to 3, and I am getting my dark tone with an edge back
that I had years back, so things are starting to go well again.

So can anyone explain why this loose embouchure does not seem to be working.
When looking back it seems to be the difference between the Joe Alard and Larry teal method,
and the Larry Teal method where the embuochure is more tight seems to be working much better for me.
 

Colin the Bear

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You need to use the Goldilocks embouchure. Not too tight , not too loose.

Sound is everything. Whatever sounds best is best. We all start by the book then adapt to our physiology.
 

jbtsax

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I agree with Colin's Goldilocks approach. I teach that to my students by the resulting pitch of the mouthpiece and/or the pitch of the mouthpiece plus the neck.

For alto, the pitch of the mouthpiece alone should be A Concert, the mouthpiece and neck should sound an Ab Concert.

For tenor, the pitch of the mouthpiece alone should be G Concert, the mouthpiece and neck should sound an E Concert.

The other embouchure tightness test taught by Larry Teal is to play a low A and flick the neck octave key open with your free hand and quickly let it close. If the note goes to high A and stays, your embouchure is too tight. If the note goes to a flat and flabby sounding high A your embouchure is too loose. If the note goes to an in tune high A and then drops back down after a few seconds, your embouchure is just right.

I teach that the lower lip should be rolled back just enough to cover the teeth. For most players this allows the reed to vibrate, but dampens it just enough to control the sound. This is just a starting point however, and as players progress they can experiment and find what what works the best for their concept of sound and style of playing.

A note about Joe Allard. Joe Allards students were extremely talented and accomplished players before they even got to him. His approach which is often misunderstood was to work with each player as an individual to help them use their unique physiology in such a way as to allow them to move to the next level in terms of tone production and control. I would no more advocate that a beginner on saxophone use Joe Allard's concepts of tone production than I would advise a beginning golfer to adopt Tiger Wood's golf swing.
 

daveysaxboy

Big ruff Geordie bendy metal blower
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Don't roll any lip over your teeth.This is the old method.The reed should rest on your lip.Takes a good few months of getting used to this modern way but its the way all your modern guys play.
 

Colin the Bear

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Ignore everybody else. Do what works for you.

Yes yes. How much lip to use depends on how much lip you've got. All of a thin lip may not be enough and very little of a fat lip may be too much.

I alter my embouchure slightly in different ranges and for different tonal effects.

Embouchure also depends on which saxophone you're playing. They are all subtly different.

I've recently started recording myself on clarinet and was surprised how flabby it sounded. The embouchure for clarinet is also subtly different. Tighter and more fixed I find.

I can recommend recording yourself for making those little tweaks to tone production.

For most jazz, rock and blues playing you can shift about for effect and to add expression and emotion. I think the classical approach is a little more rigid with regards to tone production.

Books are fine to get you going but take what you read under advisement
 

aldevis

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Ignore everybody else. Do what works for you.

I kind of agree with this position.
Your embouchure relates with many physical elements, some of them (like facial muscles' strength) vary with time and exercise.

In some cases I even use the infamous double embouchure (upper lip rolled too) if it works to give me the sound I need.

The only things to avoid are the ones causing too much fatigue, physical stress, bad sound.


As a teacher, usually

I teach that the lower lip should be rolled back just enough to cover the teeth. For most players this allows the reed to vibrate, but dampens it just enough to control the sound. This is just a starting point however, and as players progress they can experiment and find what what works the best for their concept of sound and style of playing.
 

marc1024

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29
Location
Belgium
I guess the "modern way" does not work so much for me.
Ik gives me a very bright rock sound on a classic mouthpiece and I dont have much control over the reed.
Altough I like the rock sound, it is not suited for other types of music.
It does not blend in well in a concert band, and staccato notes sounded awfull.

So now after building up my embouchure again with a more rolled over lip,
I get a nice round tone with a little edge that blends in well, and if I push it, I can still produce the rock type sound.

I also found out that the reed plays an important role.
Going up half a strenght gives me better control on the reed, it took a while to get used to it,
but it was certainly worth the struggle.
I also switched to Legere synthetic reeds because they take away the variability between reeds in a box.
Soundwise they cannot compete with the very best reed of a box of cane reeds, but they come very close.

So after a 9 month struggle with bad sound, I think I finally start going in the right direction.
I start liking to play again, it was a rather depressing period and I nearly gave up.
I guess I got frustrated because after a 10 year break I was was not able to get back
to my previous playing level quickly enough.
So thanks for the comments, I needed a bit moral support or pep talk to get over it.
 

jbtsax

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I guess the "modern way" does not work so much for me.
It gives me a very bright rock sound on a classic mouthpiece and I don't have much control over the reed. Although I like the rock sound, it is not suited for other types of music. It does not blend in well in a concert band, and staccato notes sounded awful.

So now after building up my embouchure again with a more rolled over lip, I get a nice round tone with a little edge that blends in well, and if I push it, I can still produce the rock type sound.

I agree 100%. Why play with an embouchure that limits the styles of music you can play on an instrument as versatile as the saxophone? To get a "pop" or "jazz" sound using the lip over the teeth embouchure, one simply pushes the mouthpiece on farther and plays lower on the input pitch by opening the teeth and relaxing the embouchure muscles a bit.
 
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daveysaxboy

Big ruff Geordie bendy metal blower
Messages
3,303
I guess the "modern way" does not work so much for me.
Ik gives me a very bright rock sound on a classic mouthpiece and I dont have much control over the reed.
Altough I like the rock sound, it is not suited for other types of music.
It does not blend in well in a concert band, and staccato notes sounded awfull.

So now after building up my embouchure again with a more rolled over lip,
I get a nice round tone with a little edge that blends in well, and if I push it, I can still produce the rock type sound.

I also found out that the reed plays an important role.
Going up half a strenght gives me better control on the reed, it took a while to get used to it,
but it was certainly worth the struggle.
I also switched to Legere synthetic reeds because they take away the variability between reeds in a box.
Soundwise they cannot compete with the very best reed of a box of cane reeds, but they come very close.

So after a 9 month struggle with bad sound, I think I finally start going in the right direction.
I start liking to play again, it was a rather depressing period and I nearly gave up.
I guess I got frustrated because after a 10 year break I was was not able to get back
to my previous playing level quickly enough.
So thanks for the comments, I needed a bit moral support or pep talk to get over it.

I agree 100%. Why play with an embouchure that limits the styles of music you can play on an instrument as versatile as the saxophone? To get a "pop" or "jazz" sound using the lip over the teeth embouchure, one simply pushes the mouthpiece on farther and plays lower on the input pitch by opening the teeth and relaxing the embouchure muscles a bit.

Your embouchure is a muscle and its for ever changing as you do.Why do most of pro's use the more modern relaxed method.As its the 1 I find does not strangle your sound/tone.And its easy on the chops.Any type of change from over lip to on lip takes months of work.And then practise every day for the rest of your days to keep your embouchure good.Yes find the sweet spot that works for you but you wont just find it that easy as again you need to build up the muscle and keep working at it.If I don't play for say 4 days I can tell on my embouchure.I think some folk just think you play and that's it.Never heard of the rock sound = on lip method before >:)
 

daveysaxboy

Big ruff Geordie bendy metal blower
Messages
3,303
I agree 100%. Why play with an embouchure that limits the styles of music you can play on an instrument as versatile as the saxophone? To get a "pop" or "jazz" sound using the lip over the teeth embouchure, one simply pushes the mouthpiece on farther and plays lower on the input pitch by opening the teeth and relaxing the embouchure muscles a bit.

I don't agree with any of that but as with all things each to his own.If we all done the or thought the same it would be boring on here :))):))):)))
 

marc1024

Member
Messages
29
Location
Belgium
With he non roll over lip method, can you also obtain a more dark sound as required for more classic playing ?

I could only produce a rather bright tone in this way (= full undamped vibration of the reed I guess).
But I am just an amateur who plays the sax as a hobby and started playing again after a 10 year break.
So by definitions pro players will have much more control, better embouchure and more talent.

It also seems to be bound to the type of music one plays.
When I look on youtube I see a number of jazz pro's playing without rolling over the lip, others with the roll over lip
but classic pro players always seem to use the roll over lip position.
 

daveysaxboy

Big ruff Geordie bendy metal blower
Messages
3,303
Because it's fashionable?

Well I would say most jazz,pop,rock,modern music players have done this for many many many years.In my view over lip is very old and used more in the classical field were they want a tight centered pure tone and they don't need want a loose flexible sound like jazz players who play with sound much more.Just my view but I get SOOOOO much more of a flexible relaxed sound on the on lip method.I will agree if your wanting a classical sound go for the French school of over the lip.
Also the the whole point of the reed is to get it to vibrate well and the modern method gives me way more freedom to play with notes.I think people are reading the term modern method and thinking its new,its been around for along long time.Checkout most jazz greats on youtube and there doing the on lip method then checkout classical guys and there using the over lip French school method.
 
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jbtsax

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Never heard of the rock sound = on lip method before >:)

Here you go:

Tom Scott

David Sanborn

Randal Clark (alto) and Ryan Lillywhite (tenor)

Jerry Bergonzi

Jerry Bergonzi lesson on embouchure

Jerry Bergonzi explains that a relaxed embouchure does not require the lip to be completely in front of the teeth. In the above video he says that the bottom lip covers the teeth "just a bit". The way I tell my students is "just enough to cover the teeth". As one can hear in the above videos, the lower lip over the teeth does not muffle the sound or dampen the edge on a jazz or rock style of tone production.

By the way Randal Clark in the Cannonball video is also an amazing classical saxophonist as well. He pushes the mp in and plays lower on the mp pitch to achieve that "pop" sound with essentially the same embouchure.
 
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Jamesmac

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1,872
@ jbtsax I agree completely with your teaching, re. Embouchure, I would go further and say a good Clarinet embouchure is the basis of a good Sax embouchure , with the ability to adapt, but keeping the same basic principals.
 

daveysaxboy

Big ruff Geordie bendy metal blower
Messages
3,303
Here you go:

Tom Scott

David Sanborn

Randal Clark (alto) and Ryan Lillywhite (tenor)

Jerry Bergonzi

Jerry Bergonzi lesson on embouchure

Jerry Bergonzi explains that a relaxed embouchure does not require the lip to be completely in front of the teeth. In the above video he says that the bottom lip covers the teeth "just a bit". The way I tell my students is "just enough to cover the teeth". As one can hear in the above videos, the lower lip over the teeth does not muffle the sound or dampen the edge on a jazz or rock style of tone production.

By the way Randal Clark in the Cannonball video is also an amazing classical saxophonist as well. He pushes the mp in and plays lower on the mp pitch to achieve that "pop" sound with essentially the same embouchure.

I rest my case !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! who said the lip out ,not me.I said relaxed and the reed on the the lip as just just sitting ,resting on the lip and guess what that's what Jerry Bergonzi does !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! he says don't pull it out ,don't pull it in,which = on the lip.
As fot Tom Scott that's what he looked like he was doing.
Sanborn has a very strange stance when he plays the sax and he has more lip over the teeth.
As for Randall Clark it looks like the on the lip method to me,i can see his lips from the side !!!!!!!!!!!!
So why have you put the names of these guys up ???
 

daveysaxboy

Big ruff Geordie bendy metal blower
Messages
3,303
@ jbtsax I agree completely with your teaching, re. Embouchure, I would go further and say a good Clarinet embouchure is the basis of a good Sax embouchure , with the ability to adapt, but keeping the same basic principals.

If you play classical sax yes I agree but for other types of music I don't agree
 

Colin the Bear

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Burnley bb9 9dn
The saxophone is such a versatile instrument. Capable of mimicking many instruments by altering the embouchure.

I tighten up on alto and use a lot of lip to move towards a trumpet feel for some Latin pieces. A sweet 1930's melody and your clarinet embouchure comes to the fore and try to get the oboe feel in there. A little blues and we're shifting about looking for various tonal colours.

The tenor is a different kettle of fish. I can't make it sound sweet. It's more like a human voice for me. I sometimes think of the way buddy guy sings. It's the only one I let my cheeks puff out for.

Baritone is different again. I can't get enough lip on the reed if it's over my teeth so I stick my lip right out like sulking kid.

Soprano is different yet again. I can't say I'm anywhere near mastering the sop. It's the same mouth position as sucking porridge through a straw. There's hardly any reed and the lay is so short it's a case of stretch the lips thin and use as little as possible.

And then there's the good old clarinet. A fixed embouchure throughout the range and try to make the sound come down your nose. I love it. Wish I could play it.

I find also that I alter my embouchure to suit the line up. In a small ensemble where the front line is playing the head and the trumpet has the lead I go loose and slide about. When we come to a close harmony section where we are playing the same phrase together I tighten up to get a purer more accurate sound.

I can't see that there's a right or wrong way. Playing solo for 3 or 4 hours when busking on alto or tenor has taught me to use minimal force for the best sound possible. Or I won't last the day.
 

Jamesmac

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Messages
1,872
If you play classical sax yes I agree but for other types of music I don't agree

I think it would be good to be able to do both, but there's a reason why players tend to stick with one.
I find bottom lip on the teeth gives an anchor point, and you can wander around but still have a sense of stability.
These different approaches remind me of the non pressure V pressure players re. Brass.
 

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