3. One Embouchure For All! The Difference To Wood Wind Instruments

Unlike with woodwind instruments, the way to generate sound from a brass wind instrument does not vary greatly.

The general shape of the mouthpiece remains the same. They are usually detachable and cup- or funnel-shaped.

Neither of them actually produces the sound, but transfers the air which the player must manipulate. This is different for example from the recorder, a woodwind instrument. If you blow into that, a sound of some type will definitely come out at the other end. Not so with a brass wind mouthpiece: if you just blow into it, the air simply flows out the other end silently, though probably slightly more moistly. To no effect whatsoever! The sounds are generated by the lips and not through the interplay of mouthpiece, reed and air flow, as is the case with clarinet and saxophone players. No tension of the lips means no sound. But if you have mastered the technique for one instrument, your embouchure will theoretically help you conquer the whole range of brass instruments. It's not that one technique totally suits all instruments – if only it were that simple! - but there are similarities enough to broadly distinguish three groups of brass wind instruments:

The first group comprises the trumpet and the cornet. The size of both instruments and mouthpieces are fairly similar in this group. The mouthpieces of trombone, alto horn, tenor horn, baritone horn, euphonium and tuba are optically larger, especially the tuba mouthpiece, which breaks all size records. The third group is made up of the flügelhorn and the French horn

Group 1 Group 2 Group 3
Trumpet
Cornett
Trombone
Alto horn
Tenor horn
Baritone horn
Euphonium
Tuba
Flügelhorn
French horn

So why this classification?

One reason is the distinction between cup and funnel mouthpieces, but more on that later.
Of course you could group the instruments differently, but this one is a good working solution. You have to start somewhere, after all.

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