While I consider a discussion of “einsetzen” and “ansetzen” embouchures to be more of historical interest, I’ve been coming across these terms lately and wanted to write up my impressions of these terms and how they are relevant (or not) to brass pedagogy today.
Like many, my first exposure to these terms came from Philip Farkas’ text, The Art of French Horn Playing. In this book Farkas quotes the 19th century hornist, Oscar Franz.
While playing, the mouthpiece should be set upon the upper and exactly within the inner part of the lower lip. In German this is termed as Einsetzen (Setting In), in contrast to players who place the mouthpiece against, and not within, the lower lip. This latter is termed as Ansetzen (Setting Against). These two ways of tone production demand careful consideration. While the tone produced in the first described manner (Einstetzen) will sound smooth and gentle, and the progressions from the higher to the lower intervals, and vice versa, can be easily mastered after careful study (the higher intervals being somewhat more difficult to produce), the higher intervals will speak easily for those who employ the second way of playing (Ansetzen); however, in passing from the higher to the lower intervals, and vice versa, this mode of playing often presents a variety of difficulties; and, in addition, the tone, as a rule, sounds less poetic and harder in quality; naturally there are exceptional cases of players to whom these various modes of playing present no difficulties whatsoever. If a player, employing the second mode of playing (Ansetzen) passes into the lower register, he is forced to change his lip position to the first mode (Einsetzen).
– Farkas, The Art of French Horn Playing, 22
If I understand this correctly, an einsetzen embouchure is one in which the player rolls the lower lip out and sets the rim of the mouthpiece on the back part of the lip. Some trumpet methods teach this approach for playing pedal tones (a practice that I tend to discourage – in general I feel that any benefit trumpet players get from practicing pedal tones can be derived from practicing something else that doesn’t resort to playing on an embouchure that doesn’t relate to how they normally play). Notice how
I need to roll my lower lip out in order to set the rim inside my lower lip. For some high brass players, setting the mouthpiece in this way will allow them to play in the extremely low range, but as I mentioned above, I don’t feel this is something to rely on as it doesn’t seem to work well for overall playing in the normal range. While it doesn’t fit Franz’s definition of “einsetzen,” one can also set the rim on the inside of the upper lip as well.
For both of the photos above I tried to set the mouthpiece with about the same ratio of upper to lower lip that I normally play with. Regardless of which brass instrument I play (and I’m not a good doubler, mind you, I play trombone), I set the mouthpiece so that the lower lip predominates. This is reverse of how most players will play best, but it does happen to work best for me. I bring this up because some people will look at my normal embouchure and declare it to be an einsetzen embouchure because the rim of the mouthpiece gets set onto, not inside, my top lip. According to the Franz/Farkas quote above, this “setting on” the lips would more properly be labeled as an “ansetzen” embouchure. I’ve read others describe Dennis Brain’s embouchure and Bruno Schneider’s embouchure (which are very similar to mine) as “einsetzen” embouchures as well because they too place the mouthpiece with the rim on the upper lip. Because rolling my upper or lower lip out to place the rim inside the mouthpiece looks and works very differently from my normal method of firming the lips first and then placing the mouthpiece, I don’t think that Brain’s, Schneider’s or my embouchure can be properly labeled as “einsetzen.” Simply placing the rim of the mouthpiece so that it contacts the upper or lower lip isn’t enough to make it an einsetzen embouchure, particularly for players with thicker sized vermillion (red of the lips). An einsetzen embouchure will be one in which the lip is rolled out and the rim is placed on the inside of the lip.
With the exception of playing extremely low on trumpet and horn, it’s pretty rare to find players these days who play their whole range with an einsetzen embouchure. I do know one horn player in the area who sets the rim inside her lower lip for her whole range. In general, however, I wouldn’t recommend this as it seems to have some associated difficulties in the normal playing range.
It’s entirely possible that Franz’s discussion of the “inner part” of the lips is referring to placing the rim on the vermillion of the lip, and not rolling out the lips as I’m describing here. While the terms “einsetzen” and “ansetzen” have some historical interest for those of us who study brass embouchures, they really don’t seem to be useful terms to describe how brass players form their embouchures today. It may be time for us to simply abandon those terms and instead discuss brass embouchure types in a different, more descriptive way.