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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2007-
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Here's an excellent article on double lip embouchure that just came out.

http://www.theclarinet.co.uk/articles/doublelip.shtml

Any double lip clarinetists on the Forum? I use a type of double lip on clarinet, bass clarinet, and saxophone. I've actually come full-circle with double lip embouchure.....

In my saxophone studies through elementary and high school I developed a double lip embouchure. Looking back, I scratch my head over how none of my teachers either corrected it or said anything about it. However, when I arrived at Berklee and began studying with Joe Viola, Joe took one look at my embouchure and said "You're using a double embouchure!". I then spent at least a semester working with Joe in completely changing my embouchure and playing. After this, I used a single embouchure for the next 35 some-odd years.

Around 5-6 years ago I was spending a lot of time with the C melody and was striving to get a bigger sound on it. At the time Ralph Morgan encouraged me to take in more of the mouthpiece. But, I had problems with taking in more mouthpiece. My chops quickly wore out and I had problems with the mouthpiece slipping. Then old day, based on an intuitive hunch I tried lifting my top teeth off the mouthpiece beak. I wasn't using a true "French" or double embouchure in having my top lip under my front teeth. I simply lifted my teeth from the mouthpiece. The results of using this embouchure were a huge breakthrough for me. My sound was bigger, there was an increased level of projection, and (importantly) my chops did not wear out as they did when I tried taking in more mouthpiece with a single embouchure.

Having such good results with this embouchure on saxophone I tried a modified version of it on clarinet (with a tight lower lip) and quickly ran into control problems. So, I continued to use a "traditional" single embouchure on clarinet. However, when I acquired a bass clarinet last Fall I quickly discovered that I got great results on it with a similar embouchure as I was using on tenor with the teeth off the mouthpiece...however, the embouchure not being as loose as on tenor and being more clarinet-like. By then I was having a small amount of top lip under my front teeth.

Getting good results with this embouchure on bass clarinet, I then went back to the soprano clarinet and tried it. It took a couple of weeks to become comfortable with my version of a double embouchure on clarinet -- especially, in terms of control and playing in the high range. But, after I got the hang of it, it then felt completely natural...like I had been playing that way all my life.

So, I've come full-circle back to playing with a double embouchure as I did as a kid and I'm extremely happy with the results.

Finding this article on double lip embouchure is a big deal for me as it's helping me to have a better understanding of the WHY behind the embouchure changes that first came to me as an intuitive hunch. The article has also shown me some ways in which I can make some minor tweaks to my embouchure to make it work even better. I'm really happy that I stumbled upon this web site!

Roger
 

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Gino Cioffi used a double-lip embouchure, and hear the sound he made!

Fantastic!

I have tried it, but I find stability a problem as the clarinet wants to 'roll' more since my teeth aren't securing the mouthpiece - though I can't fault the tone quality. Now my top lip has toughened up since I started playing oboe and cor, I can use a double-lip embouchure on clarinet with hardly any pain.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Chris,

In the trial & error I've done I found that I have to rest the clarinet bell on the edge of my right knee. This gives my embouchure greater stability and puts less pressure on the reed...thus, a greater degree of tonal resonance. I experimented with having the bell rest between both knees -- ala Robert Marcellus -- but I don't like it. It seems to me that I get a much better quality of sound and overall playability with the bell just on the right knee.

I'm also using a small amount of lip over the teeth. What I'm trying to get is in effect an "edge" of lip on the reed and the mouthpiece beak. When I'm in The Zone with the right amount of edge of the lip, the right placement of the lip on the reed (fulcrum point), and the right angle of the mouthpiece I really hear the vibrancy of my sound come alive.

Roger
 

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I've been doing a similar thing, only getting minimum lip coverage on the top of the mouthpiece rather than curling the top lip over, and visually the embouchure looks like a 'normal' teeth-on-mouthpiece embouchure. But the instability is most noticeable while playing standing up.

And playing Oehler system with a double-lip embouchure certainly makes a huge difference in tone quality, even more so than on my Selmers.
 

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Discombobulated SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 201
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Roger, did I read your post too quickly or did you say you play with your top teeth lifted up off of the mouthpiece? Even with the top lip rolled over that's not what I would think of as double-lip.

Looking forward to reading this article later on.

Did Harold Wright use a double-lip embouchure? Whatever he did, he sure sounded great - though I guess some felt he at times sounded a little "precious".
 

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Very interesting; the article also. I suspect (indeed am quite sure) I am in the presence of experts here, but I will relate my own embouchure anyway. I use lips only. I did not receive any instruction from my tutor when I first started, or since for that matter. The approach evolved from my reading of the guidance in the Otto Langey book, a book which may well have been written by someone who was not a saxophonist - or even a reed player as no-one knows who Otto Langey was (unless someone on SOTW knows better....) and hence led me, porbably through mis-reading what was on the page, into what I suppose are unusual ways.

I am happy with my tone, indeed am complimented on it from time to time and do not experience any sense of loss of control, perhaps because I know no other way.

The position of the lower lip is very important; the reed has to be just so on a very soft part of the lip. If there is a weakness in my technique arising from this, it is vibrato, but it is a weakness I will live with.

There are a number of SOTW members who will be horrified by this, perhaps even by Roger's approach, but the simple fact is that it works for me.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Chitown,

Yup, that's exactly what I'm doing. The article mentions Harold Wright as using a double embouchure.

When I got home from work today I tried curling more of the top lip under my teeth, to get even more of a double embouchure, but it didn't feel right and I didn't hear as much ring and vibrance in my sound. Then, I did the same thing that Chris described -- using a minimal amount of lip under the teeth (an edge of lip as I think of it) -- and the vibrance really came out.

Boy, Chris, it sounds like we're doing exactly the same thing with our embouchures! I, too, have trouble playing clarinet standing up. For me, it has more to do with reduced tonal quality but there is also an element of instability. It's really amazing the difference it makes for my sound in resting the bell on the right knee.

Chris, have you tried a similar approach to your embouchure (no teeth on the mouthpiece) on saxophone?

Roger
 

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Primarily I'm a teeth-on player, though sometimes without realising it I do play with a lip only embouchure on sax and clarinet (no jaw or teeth support) as I sometimes do on oboe and cor anglais to get a fuller sound - and with this type of embouchure the more arched mouth cavity adds resonance to the tone. I think bassoonists use this embouchure, but they do use a more flexible embouchure - you often see them drop their jaw right after attacking a note.

Standing up I do need to keep my teeth on the mouthpiece for stability, though while sat down I do rest the lower joint on my rigt knee so I can relax my right arm from time to time - full Boehms do weigh a ton, and I'm noticing some tendon pain in my right wrist - especially in the thumb tendon (the inner tendon of the two). Most likely a sign for me to take it easy as I do tend to hold the clarinet out at a soprano sax/oboe angle whie playing.

There are sax teachers that teach a lip only embouchure, as if the lips and facial muscles act as an elastic seal around the mouthpiece with little or no jaw or teeth support.
 
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