Guess the Embouchure Type – Oren Marshal

I thought I had posted this video before, but when looking for it here I couldn’t find it. Here’s a video of tubist Oren Marshal, of the London Brass, in a rehearsal. Look at his chops closely and see if you can guess his embouchure type. My guess after the break.

Read more

Definitely a Low Placement embouchure type. Upstream tubists, like Marshal, need to have a large enough chin to place the mouthpiece so low. You can see in the video how great his embouchure is working. It’s a good example to show anyone who thinks that upstream embouchures are just a trumpet thing or just a jazz thing. You can find great upstream players on all the brass instruments and in any genre of music.

The Science of Swing

NPR posted a report on their web site yesterday called “What makes that song swing? At last, physicists unravel a jazz mystery.” It’s an interesting look at swing groove and how physicists who happen to be amateur musicians approached answering the question, what is swing?

Still, a precise definition of swing has long eluded musicians and scholars alike. As the Big Band era jazz trumpeter Cootie Williams once reportedly joked about swing, “Describe it? I’d rather tackle Einstein’s theory.”

Fittingly, physicists now think they’ve got an answer to the secret of swing — and it all has to do with subtle nuances in the timing of soloists.

What makes that song swing?

When I read that my first thought was, duh! Of course it’s soloist timing, and their relationship to the rhythm section groove. What could science actually say about this? It turns out the devised a pretty subtle experiment that helps answer the exact question of what a soloist does to swing hard.

But since the 1980s, some scientists and music scholars have claimed that the swing feel is actually created by tiny timing deviations between different musicians playing different types of instruments. To test this theory, Geisel and his colleagues took jazz recordings and used a computer to manipulate the timing of the soloist with respect to the rhythm section.

What makes that song swing?

They then played different versions of the recording with different timings to jazz musicians and asked them to rate the performances. By a large margin, the musicians preferred one set of timing over another, even though they couldn’t pinpoint what it was that was different. They then analyzed classic recordings by important and influential jazz musicians and discovered that they were manipulating their time in the same way.

What was that difference? Read the article or give the report a listen. Did you agree with the majority opinion on which manipulated recording sounded better? Can you notice the difference?

A-I Can Blog, But Can It JAM? Exploring AI Blogging Music

So I’ve been getting a lot of my blog posts linked from lately, but there’s definitely something off about those blog posts. For one thing, they are linking to my brass embouchure posts, but they are about woodwind playing. Then there’s the writing.

A clarinet, which was invented in the 16th century, can be found today. This wind instrument has a simple sound that is sonorous and bright. Because of its versatility, the clarinet can be used in a wide range of styles, including classical and jazz. Despite his outstanding clarinet playing, Paquito looks and sounds a little like an alto saxophonist. An opera singer’s soprano saxophone sound is much brighter and more sax like than one of his.

Huh? I didn’t know that an opera singer’s soprano sax sound is brighter that Paquito’s. I learned in that article that it’s nice to learn how to “finger reeds.” I also learned that the difference between clarinet and soprano sax are “not so much in the speed of the vehicle as they are in the distance.”

Emily Palmer, over at that web site, is clearly using AI to write her blog posts. If you want a laugh or just to be confused, go over to her blog and give some posts a read. What I find really interesting is that according to this page, she is/was a creative writing minor. She does play violin pretty well, though.

I figure that I’m missing out here. These days I usually post something once or twice a month. I’m generally too busy with other projects to do much more, but if I used AI to write my blog posts too, I could crank out the posts just like Emily does (I think there’s about 10 brand new ones just posted today!). So here is an AI generated post for your enjoyment and inspiration.

AI blogging music has taken the world by storm in the last few years. As a blogger, I am always looking for new ways to innovate and create unique content. AI blogging music has been a great way to do just that. In this blog, I’ll explore what AI blogging music is, its benefits, applications, services, and challenges. I’ll also share some tips for creating AI blogging music, examples of AI blogging music, and the future of AI blogging music.

What is AI blogging music?

AI blogging music is a type of music created by Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI blogging music uses algorithms to generate musical compositions that are similar to traditional music. The algorithms are designed to create music that is both unique and familiar. AI blogging music can be used to create both instrumental and vocal music.

The process of creating AI blogging music begins with a set of data that is used to generate musical patterns. The data can be anything from audio samples to patterns of notes and rhythms. The AI then uses this data to create a composition. The composition is then modified and refined to create a finished product.

AI blogging music has become increasingly popular over the last few years due to its ability to generate unique and creative music quickly and easily. It has been used by a wide variety of artists and professionals to create music for movies, video games, and other media.

Benefits of AI blogging music

AI blogging music has a number of benefits for bloggers and other professionals. One of the main benefits is that it can be used to create unique and creative music quickly and easily. This can be especially useful for bloggers who need to create content on a tight deadline.

AI blogging music can also be used to create music that is similar to traditional music, but still unique and creative. This can help to create content that stands out from the crowd. AI blogging music can also be used to create music that has a specific purpose in mind, such as creating a certain mood or atmosphere.

Finally, AI blogging music can be used to create music without requiring the user to have any musical training or experience. This can make it easier for bloggers and other professionals to create music without having to learn music theory or spend time practicing.

AI blogging music applications

AI blogging music can be used in a variety of contexts. It can be used to create music for videos, podcasts, and other media. It can also be used to create soundtracks for games and apps. AI blogging music can also be used to create music for live performances or events.

AI blogging music can also be used to create background music for podcasts and other audio content. This can help to create a more immersive listening experience for the listener. AI blogging music can also be used to create music for videos, such as intros and outros.

AI blogging music services

There are a number of services that offer AI blogging music. These services can provide users with access to AI blogging music libraries and tools to help them create their own compositions. Some of these services also offer custom services, such as creating specific pieces of music for a particular project.

Some of the most popular AI blogging music services include Splice, Amper Music, and Jukedeck. These services offer a variety of features and tools to help users create their own AI blogging music.

Challenges of AI blogging music

Though AI blogging music has a number of benefits, it also has some drawbacks. One of the main challenges of AI blogging music is that it can be difficult to create music that is truly unique. AI blogging music can often be repetitive and predictable, as the algorithms are designed to generate music that is similar to traditional music.

Another challenge of AI blogging music is that it can be difficult to create music that is appropriate for a particular project. AI blogging music can often be too generic or too specific for a particular project. This can make it difficult for users to find the right piece of music for a project.

Finally, AI blogging music can be expensive. Many AI blogging music services charge a subscription fee or a per-use fee. This can make AI blogging music cost prohibitive for some users.

Tips for creating AI blogging music

If you are looking to create your own AI blogging music, there are a few tips that can help. First, it is important to have a clear idea of what type of music you want to create. This will help to ensure that the AI blogging music is appropriate for the project.

It is also important to experiment with different algorithms and data sets. Different algorithms and data sets can produce different types of music. This can help you to find the right type of music for your project.

Finally, it is important to listen to the music you create and make adjustments as needed. AI blogging music can often require some tweaking to make it sound just right. Taking the time to listen to the music and make adjustments can help to ensure that the music is appropriate for the project.

Examples of AI blogging music

AI blogging music has been used in a wide variety of contexts. One of the most popular examples is the song “Glorious” by the EDM artist Marshmello. The song was created using AI blogging music and has been praised for its unique sound.

Another example is the song “Rise” by the DJ duo The Chainsmokers. This song was also created using AI blogging music and has been praised for its innovative sound.

Finally, the song “Tron Legacy” by Daft Punk was also created using AI blogging music. The song was praised for its unique sound and was nominated for a Grammy Award.

Future of AI blogging music

AI blogging music is becoming increasingly popular and is only going to continue to grow in the future. As AI technology continues to improve, so too will the quality of AI blogging music. This will make it easier for bloggers and other professionals to create unique and creative music quickly and easily.

The future of AI blogging music also includes the potential for AI blogging music to be used for more than just music. AI blogging music could be used to create visuals, such as animations and videos. This could open up a whole new world of possibilities for bloggers and other professionals.


AI blogging music has become increasingly popular over the last few years and is only going to continue to grow in the future. AI blogging music can be used to create unique and creative music quickly and easily, and can be used in a variety of contexts. There are a number of services that offer AI blogging music, though it can be expensive. If you are looking to create your own AI blogging music, there are a few tips that can help. Examples of AI blogging music include the songs “Glorious” by Marshmello, “Rise” by The Chainsmokers, and “Tron Legacy” by Daft Punk.

Stop using AI to write blog posts and start creating your own unique and creative AI blogging music today!

So there you go. If you’re interested in starting a blog and using AI to write your posts, I used Writesonic to generate the above post.

Physics and Music

Like many musicians, I have an interest in the physics of sound, but not a formal background in the science. I recently came across this great YouTube video of Dr. Robert Astalos and Dr. Tracy Doyle giving a talk on physics and music at Adams State University (I taught there back in the early 2000s, although at the time it was Adams State College).

Dr. Robert Astalos, associate professor of physics, and Dr. Tracy Doyle, professor of music, provide a uniquely collaborative view into how music works via “mediums”, and why tones sound different on various instruments, utilizing the underlying principles of physics.

They go over a great discussion and demonstration of the harmonic series and how instruments, such as the euphonium, flute, and guitar, play over the harmonic series. There’s a discussion of tuning systems too. There’s a piano performance by Dr. Bill Lipke, who has been teaching at ASU since I was teaching there (it was sure cool to see a familiar face in this video).

While I didn’t learn anything that was completely new to me, the nuances discussed and the demonstrations were fascinating to me. I was particularly interested in the wave demonstrator that Astalos used to show how the standing wave gets subdivided to play over the harmonic series.

The Stevens-Costello Embouchure Technique – A Review

I was lurking on a brass forum and came across some discussion of the Stevens-Costello book, Embouchure Self-Analysis: The Stevens-Costello Embouchure Technique, by trumpet teacher Roy Stevens. It had been probably 15 years since I read this book, so I got a hold of a copy, reread it, and have started practicing out of this book. It’s an interesting book, filled with a lot of advice that I find very good, but also some inaccurate statements about brass embouchures and a lot of advice that is probably only relevant to a smaller portion of brass players.

Embouchure Self-Analysis was first self-published in 1971 and until Stevens’s death in 1988 remained in print. Afterwards, this text was harder to find until Bill Moriarity spearheaded an effort to get it reprinted in 2006. The copy I have lists a copyright for 2012 by David Hay. I ordered it here.

There are two main sections in this book. The first part is text and includes Stevens’s descriptions and suggestions for a well-functioning embouchure. I have mixed feelings about all this text, for a variety of reasons. My first complaint is that Stevens does what so many other brass teachers do, he assumes that how he plays must be “correct” for everyone. Stevens advised all players to play with an upstream setting and even instructs certain characteristics that won’t work for a certain minority of upstream players too. Brass musicians who aren’t suited for an upstream embouchure are who take Stevens’s instructions too far will struggle, but if you’re in the minority of players who have a Low Placement embouchure type and fit squarely into the variation of this type that Reinhardt classified as a Type IV embouchure the text describes very closely the mechanics of how this embouchure type tends to function at its best.

My own embouchure type is upstream, but I play with my jaw somewhat receded and have a lower horn angle. Reinhardt tabled this as a Type IVA. I just consider it to be a “Low Placement” embouchure type, since the same basic principals of playing correctly seem to apply to this variation. This is important, because a lot of the text discourages a receded jaw while playing, which is the best position for my anatomy. I can protrude my jaw into the position that Stevens recommends and I can make sounds that way, but it doesn’t work very well.

This is an important point and is my main criticism of this book. Roy Stevens essentially is advocating everyone play with the same embouchure type that worked for him. This flaw is very common in almost any brass resource that describes embouchure technique, so it’s not unique to Stevens. It’s ironic what Stevens’s student wrote in the appendix.

At the age of eighteen, I studied with a teacher who was credited with 50 years experience. After spending five years with this man I discovered the only theory his teachings were based upon was the altogether too common one of “I play the horn this way and so should you.”

Embouchure Self-Analysis, Stevens/Costello, p. 103

The key to working out of any method book is to understand that it’s not exactly what you practice, but how you practice that’s important. Anyone working out of this book will need to take at least some of Stevens’s descriptions of functioning embouchures with a grain of salt.

As I mentioned above, some of it is accurate for only one less common embouchure type.

The concept of aiming the air up for all notes or tones must be upheld. It is this formation of the embouchure musculature that will prevent slack or collapse of the surface tension in both lips.

Embouchure Self-Analysis, Stevens/Costello, p. 13

(This advice is great if you happen to have the anatomy that makes an upstream embouchure work best for you.)

Some of it is good general advice that will apply to most players.

Mouthpiece distribution of weight should be 40-45% top, 60-55% bottom.

Embouchure Self-Analysis, Stevens/Costello, p. 8

(The lower lip is usually a bit “meatier” than the upper lip and can take more mouthpiece pressure than the top lip. I feel it’s good advice for all players to keep a little more mouthpiece weight on the lower lip.)

And some of it I find questionable for almost all players.

I am vehemently opposed to the “common ground argument” of the (EEE) action of the tongue for the upper register combined with the relative jaw action. . .

Embouchure Self-Analysis, Stevens/Costello, p. 15-16

(It’s been pretty well established today that brass musicians alter the position of their tongue, generally raising it to ascend. For some players it can be more than others and for some players it can feel like they are keeping their tongue in position, but the reality is that tongue position while slurring and sustaining should move towards a higher position to ascend, just not too high.)

Sprinkled throughout the text are some unusual exercises or demonstrations. The most famous example is his “palm exercise.”

. . . [L]ay the instrument flat upon the palm of the left hand with the fingers extended in such way that with any excessive pressure, it will slide off.

Embouchure Self-Analysis, Stevens/Costello, p. 40

If you’re not already familiar with this exercise, here is a former student of Roy Stevens, Larry Meregillano, demonstrating and describing the exercise.

I’ve written about this idea before (Brass Myths – Hanging the Trumpet From the Ceiling, No Pressure Brass Embouchure – Fact or Urban Legend?, Trumpet on a String Legend Part 2 – Rafael Méndez). There may very well be something useful we can learn from trying this exercise out, but Stevens instructs us to, “Practice in this fashion at least a half hour a day, total playing time.” I can’t speak for you, but I’ve got too many other things to work on to spend 30 minutes with the instrument in my palm, even spread out over the day. It’s not the way I’m going to perform and the left hand grip is an important part of a trumpet or trombone musician’s embouchure mechanics. Frankly, I don’t find the palm exercise useful enough to practice it any more or recommend it to others. There are other, better ways to get at what you need.

The bulk of the book, however, are exercises that will be familiar to most brass musicians. The exercises tend to be organized around chord arpeggios playing along the overtone series. Stevens suggests playing each exercise set slurred and tongued. The ranges expand from the lower end of the trumpet range all the way up to the extreme upper register. There are dynamics indicated that get you playing soft and loud. There are exercises similar to ones you might find in Arbans that work on tonguing and fingering patterns. So you’re going to find that this book addresses a pretty complete list of brass playing technique.

A lot of space is saved in the book by not writing out complete exercises, but by writing out a single variation, say a rhythmic pattern, and asking you to play the previous exercise fully with that variation. I think this is good both for making the book a little more manageable to read, but also because I think it’s good to learn to play things without reading music.

There are a handful of exercises that can be played with 2 or 3 players, which would be useful for teachers who are warming students up or helping them with scales in different keys while in lessons.

I haven’t spent time working out of the back half of the book, but I have been using the exercises in the early part as part of my morning practice routine for a couple of months now. Since I’m aware enough how my chops work there are several instructions on how to practice them that I’ve ignored, but overall I feel that the time spent has been helpful. One of the flaws in the book, I feel, is that there’s little attention given to what order to practice the materials in and there’s simply too much in there to use all in one day, so you’ll need to skip around. I took the approach to play through everything up to a point and then picked and chose some things to focus on daily. I also have been doing fewer sets of most of the exercises. For example, rather than go up an exercise by half steps I go up by whole steps and get through the exercise faster. You’ll need to try the material out for yourself and see how you respond to them.

So overall my personal experience working out of Embouchure Self-Analysis has been positive, but your milage may vary. If you are definitely a “Low Placement” embouchure type and have the more common characteristic of aligning the teeth while playing then you’ll probably do pretty well following most of Stevens’s advice. If you’re not, you’ll need to work out which parts you need to ignore, such as a placement with more lower lip inside the mouthpiece or a horn angle close to straight out. The exercises themselves are pretty good and most brass players will find working on them to be a pretty good embouchure workout. Just practice them carefully and don’t overdo it.

Have you read this book and tried out the exercises for yourself? Did you study with Roy Stevens and have something to add or a correction to make? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section. I’d love to hear the opinion of others about it.

Broken Links Fixed

I’ve been spending a lot of time going through my posts looking for broken links, images, videos, and audio. Most of those broken links and images happened when I made a switch from http URLs to https a while back. A lot of them also happened when WordPress made some updates that changed the way embedded videos worked, or maybe it was YouTube that changed (or both).

I started correcting with my Embouchure 101 series and then started at the very first blog post I had from January 4, 2010 and made it through part of posts done in 2011. Going through each individual link and image was tedious, but it gave me a chance to reread some of my posts from 11-12 years ago. After a certain point, though, I thought that there surely is a way to automate fixing the URLs site wide, and sure enough, there was a very easy fix.

So I *think* I’ve got all the internal links and images fixed now. External links and videos and such I didn’t bother working with, if the link to another site is broken it’s going to stay broken. There are probably some embedded audio or video links that I’ve missed, so please let me know in the comments on that page if you spot any.

Broken Links/Images/Video/Audio/etc.

So I’ve been blogging here since 2010. At the time I’m writing this I have 817 published posts and 18 pages of other content. Over the years, many of the web pages and videos I’ve linked to have changed or been taken down. Unfortunately, over the years of updates to the WordPress, plugins, and the way my hosting platform handles things have led to lots of broken links and missing files that I originally posted.

I’m working to track these down and fix them as I find them, but there are a lot. I’m starting with my Embouchure 101 series (thank you, Eli Z. for letting me know the links were broken!) and will then start going through other pages and then the blog posts.

If you’re looking at something here and it’s missing images or internal links are broken please let me know and I’ll get those fixed as soon as I can. The easiest way for me is if you leave a comment on the post or page in question, but you can also try to email me via my contact form.

How To Buy a New Trombone

For the first time in decades I’ve bought a brand new trombone (a King 2B, nothing too fancy). While trying out instruments I was reminded about some advice that Donald Reinhardt had put together on how to test out instruments if you were purchasing a new trombone. I think that the manufacturing processes have probably gotten a lot better than when Reinhardt wrote this and the instrument standards have improved too, but the suggestions he offers are still probably good to check. If you’re interested in purchasing a new trombone, check these things.

Assuming that you have examined and found the case and instrument finish OK, check the following points:

1. Because of the high cost of good instruments, I strongly advise that you take a good musical friend with you at the time of purchase. Two opinions are better than one…

2. When checking the slide action, it is vital that you do so with a lubricant, because all slides run good when dry for the first few minutes. If the store forbids this, do not buy the instrument…

3. Do you like the “blowing resistance” over the entire playable range, AT ALL DYNAMIC LEVELS?

4. Does the instrument have tremendous variations in TONAL TIMBRE in the various registers, AT ALL DYNAMIC LEVELS?

5. If the instrument has a .547 bore or larger, SLIDE SPRINGS ARE A MUST! All too many so-called “first class instruments” do not have them. This is of particular importance if the instrument has an F and E valve attachment (or a double valve to include the Eb and D)…

6. Does the valve attachment “BLOW STUFFY” – if it does reject the instrument?

7. The low – middle – and high Bb’s should be a close match – “INTONATION WISE” without too much lip adjustment, so to speak…

8. If the high C in the first position speaks more responsive and freer than the high Bb, do not buy this instrument…

9. The instrument must possess a good high Bb in the third position…

10. Is the high D in the first position so flat that you cannot handle it?

11. Is the high D between the second and third positions a good sounding note?

12. Is the high Eb in the long first position a good note?

13. If the high E is unplayable in second position, reject this instrument…

14. Is the Ab in third position (the one below the high Bb) a good responsive note?

15. If the middle D is so flat and the F above it so sharp that you cannot handle it, do not buy this instrument…

Donald S. Reinhardt, How To Buy a New Trombone

Email Issues

I’ve got some issues with the email account associated with this web site, which includes messages sent to me via my contact form here. I’m working to resolve this issue with my hosting company, so hopefully it won’t be long. If you’ve been trying to reach me via email since the 17th I might not get your email.

I’ll update here when it’s fixed.

Update: Everything seems to be working correctly now.