the embouchure

Your mouth / mouthpiece / reed / ligature set defines your global embouchure : this configuration is unique for you, combining your morphology and the gear you use. Your inner resonance propagates to the reed, which should easily vibrate, opposing a low resistance, hence a not too hard but reliable reed is recommended in order to be able to appreciate and master the color and the richness of the sound, shaped up at the bottom of the air column (Peter King had told me once how he had noticed that Cannonball Adderley was playing a surprisingly weak reed, when he substituted him in England in the 70’s).

This way, you define the best mouthpiece-reed combination for your sound control : this compromise may vary according to many influences, but you must know how to adjust it (mainly by selecting a better reed, on your usual mouthpiece). And if you need a softer reed to reach to your playing ease out, then you would be able to modulate your reed strength later on, bringing full balance and self-confidence : through your mentally visualizing that your emission remains centered on the sound source, you avoid unnecessary contractions above your diaphragm (which would be triggered by too hard a reed), following the recommendations of Alfred Tomatis in The Ear And The Voice.

Once your posture is set up and stabilized, your instrument naturally gets seized and enters your mouth, without disturbing the sound which was prepared in advance, as Dominique Hoppenot writes it in her Inner Violinthen your flexible and relaxed embouchure (which you actually forget, since you are focussed on the air column bottom) comes into play : it links you, as the sender (the instrumentist’s body), to the amplifier (the instrument body). The projected sound will next be worked out by your fingers, and your tongue (if you are a wind player).


When you let your mouthpiece come to your mouth, enjoyment also enters as an intruding momentum. The same way as when you take momentum to jump over an obstacle, boom ! there it goes, you are played by your instrument, so you should not play yourself, this is not a wordplay.

As little as your embouchure takes off, then you nail your mouthpiece pinch, without looking for it, playing means then sitting on the air, this is fantastic !

Robert Pichaureau
(translated by Guy Robert)


You should forget all about your embouchure positioning, and be sure not to press it.

Robert Pichaureau, Favorite Expressions
(translated by Guy Robert)


The goal is to be as relax as possible in the embouchure area, so that the delicate mechanisms at the reed can be free to occur without exerting a strain on its vibrational capacity. By the time the air stream reaches the mouthpiece, the major portion of the work for a personal sound has already been completed.

David LiebmanDeveloping a Personal Saxophone Sound


Generally, I prefer closer mouthpieces, but I try to find the combination of the length of the facing and the tip opening so that I don’t have to press hard to play it, so that everything feels easy.

Eddie Daniels, in
Eddie Daniels on Mouthpieces and Ligatures

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