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 Should the embouchure change in different registers?
Author: BronzeOrbiter 
Date:   2018-02-22 20:17

Hello everyone, I have a question about clarinet embouchure. Do you keep the embouchure exactly the same throughout all registers on the clarinet, or does it change at all? My teacher has told me that you never change your embouchure when playing classical and keep is fixed as possible, but I have read somewhere that you make different shapes with your mouth like an ‘eee’ shape or an ‘orr’ shape.

Can anyone clarify my thoughts as I am really confused right now. Thanks.

Post Edited (2018-02-22 20:17)

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 Re: Should the embouchure change in different registers?
Author: LC007 
Date:   2018-02-22 21:25

Just a beginner here but, my own experience is that the embouchure stays basically the same. By that I mean the mouth/lips/chin around the mp stay the same. The air pressure is increased though. Especially for the long B and C where all the holes are closed. Also tongue position needs to be higher as the notes get higher. To get a high C (C6) my tongue needs to be pressed up to my pallet pretty good. I have no experience with the altissimo register.

I did an experiment once. I used an elastic to keep the register key opened and played all the notes in clarion easily without changing my embouchure.

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 Re: Should the embouchure change in different registers?
Author: seabreeze 
Date:   2018-02-22 22:35

To make a big subject small, it can briefly be said that you keep your embouchure essentially the same throughout the normal clarinet range but change the position of your tongue, moving it higher as you go into the higher register to keep the pitch up and the voicing of the tone color smooth. A good teacher needs to watch and listen to you to make sure you are doing this correctly. You do not allow the embouchure to go slack on the low notes or to pinch and strain on the high ones. Looked at more closely, the natural drawstring tension of the lips around the mouthpiece and on the reed no doubt increases a bit for the high notes but that happens automatically if you are voicing correctly with your tongue. The overall shape and action of the embouchure should be the same throughout the clarinet range.

Listen to Harold Wright on YouTube play the Bartok Contrasts. The altissimo notes just float out of the instrument--no strain, no wrenching. He's doing it right! Copy that. Ask your teacher to show you how to "half hole" to make upward slurs from the clarion register to the altissimo. You will see that you can keep the embouchure position intact and just the shortening of the air column by half holing along with a small elevation of the tongue easily makes the high notes speak. It's a good idea to use the appropriate etudes (some of the Rose, for example) to practice this every day.

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 Re: Should the embouchure change in different registers?
Author: sfalexi 
Date:   2018-02-23 04:02

The "eee" "ooor" shape is likely in reference to tongue position. Think of the saying the character "Eeyore" from winnie the pooh. You can say this without having to change your embouchure.

In a nutshell, my embouchure is VERY stable, and in a spot that needs extremely extremely small changes over the range of the clarinet (if any). One thing that helps this is taking in a lot of mouthpiece.


US Army Japan Band

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 Re: Should the embouchure change in different registers?
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2018-02-23 08:05

Agree with taking in a lot of mouthpiece. The dangers of not doing this increases the chances of biting down on the reed the higher up you go.

There really isn't enough music written for the upper register so maybe buy some violin etudes. After about 6 months or so your embouchure should be pretty well set.

Buy a mirror that will fit on your music stand. When something goes wrong or right check the mirror and see what is going on.

I feel that long tones really help firm up the embouchure muscles when going from p < F > p. Your embouchure muscles move a shade, such as to play in tune, so a flexible embouchure but a strong and a firm one is the objective.

Does your embouchure change? I think it needs to a little bit, slightly, for another reason. It has to be flexible to play in pitch when you are in an orchestra or a band. It doesn't matter if the tuner says you are at 440. You may be sharp or flat so you have to be able to adjust without losing your beautiful sound. This is also partly done with great control of your breathing. It's all connected. Even the sinus muscles play a part next to your nose.

In a perfect world you don't move your embouchure. But it has to be flexible for pieces like the Copland Concerto and Rhapsody in Blue, along with so many more.

So let's call it a stable embouchure, which can adjust accordingly and the sound still sounds wonderful.

Designer of - Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpieces and the La Vecchia mouthpieces

Yamaha Artist 2015

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 Re: Should the embouchure change in different registers?
Author: Ed Palanker 
Date:   2018-02-23 19:04

There are very good comments made above. I agree that the embouchure basicily doesn't change but I also agree that at times you will loosen or tighten it a bit depending on the register, pitch and passage. Never drastic of course. I've always agreed on taking as much mouthpiece in as comfortable too but that depends on so many individual traits, lip, teeth, tongue as well as the design of the mouthpiece, reed strength and the angle you hold the mouthpiece in your mouth so there are many factors to consider. Voicing is the most important factor and that means tongue and throat position. If the air gets constricted in the throat, or the tongue blocks the air passage, a good embouchure won't compensate. There are many factors in producing a good tone, control, pitch and tonguing. It begins with a decent embouchure but doesn't stop there. A little flexibility at times is never a bad thing in certian situations as long as it doesn't disturb the pitch or tonal center.

ESP eddiesclarinet.com

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