I made the above video about a year ago to demonstrate and explain a phenomenon that is quite difficult to describe verbally or even using images, the “embouchure motion.” Most brass players are completely unaware of their embouchure motion, or they may be peripherally aware of it but have an incomplete understanding of it. Even among people whose expertise I trust in this matter seem do disagree on some of the finer points of it. It’s a very complex topic and our understanding of it is superficial.
To summarize my points in the video, when changing registers brass players will slide the lips and mouthpiece together up or down along the teeth behind them. Some players will push the lips and mouthpiece together up towards the nose to ascend and others will pull down towards the chin. Although the general motion is up and down, most players have some angular deviation in the imaginary line that their mouthpiece moves along. Some players look almost as if they are making an embouchure motion that is closer to side to side than up and down.
Here are two photographs of the same trombonist playing a low B flat (a major 9th below middle C) and a B flat two octaves higher (a minor 7th above middle C). Continue reading The Embouchure Motion