The choice of “right” mouthpiece represents an important challenge for both the beginner and professional brass player. Despite that mouthpieces of different shape, design parameters and characteristics are manufactured to satisfy any demands and offer solutions to any possible embouchure techniques, no two brass players will totally agree on the value and quality of the same mouthpiece.
The emergence of historically informed practice opens the problem to further complications that regard the way brass instruments, and mouthpieces more in particular, have been developed over the past three centuries.
Despite the existence of scientific studies which focus on the technical aspects and characteristics of these instruments, there are still wide variations in performers’ experiences and opinions of how the embouchure functions circulate which have not yet found support in more sound, scientific evidence.
This project aims to investigate the relationship between the shape of the mouthpiece and its acoustical properties in brass instruments.
MethodsThe first stage of the project investigates the implications of the shape of the rim of the mouthpiece, i.e. round or flat, on the embouchure and the resultant sound quality. Involving professional brass players the methods took the form of:
- Recording sessions with the two different mouthpieces. Single long notes as well as musical passages were recorded
- Interviews concerning the players' attitudes, feedback in regard to the embouchure, and familiarity with the articulations adopted