OK, here it is…how to change our foundational embouchure into a jazz embouchure. You’ll be able to get that open, rich, velvety (or aggressive) tone. Of course in order to do that, apply last week’s post to this weeks embouchure adjustments. Let’s get going!
Before we start discussing the jazz embouchure, understand that all the adjustments provided are based off our foundational embouchure. Having the ability to produce both embouchures will help you have the correct embouchure to play in many styles. You can find our foundational embouchure in the free lessons.
There are 2 adjustments to make to produce our jazz embouchure:
- Apply less pressure to the reed
- Move the jaw
Let’s talk about #1 first.
Not only do we apply less pressure to the reed, but if possible, the teeth (through the bottom lip) won’t even add pressure to the reed at all. This is key for producing a sub-tone. Here’s a low D sub-tone on tenor:
Did you notice the tone had an “airy” quality? That’s what we call sub-tone.
Listen to the Difference
There are 3 audio clips below that provide examples of different embouchures and setups (mouthpiece and reeds). I’ll play a low D on tenor for each.
Jazz embouchure with jazz setup:
Our foundational embouchure with jazz setup:
Foundational embouchure with classical setup:
Did You Notice?
If you go back and listen between the 1st audio example and the later two, you’ll notice that the “sub-tone” audio example is lower in pitch- or in other words, it’s flat compared to the other two. When we apply less pressure to the reed, the pitch, as a result, goes down.
How do we fix this? Simply push your mouthpiece in a little farther than you would when your using our foundational embouchure. So, if you’re going to play jazz, tune with your jazz embouchure. If you’re going to play with our foundational embouchure, tune with the foundational embouchure. You’ll notice that the two embouchures will require you to set the mouthpiece in separate locations on the cork in order to be in tune. Need help on tuning? Learn how to tune here!
Moving the Jaw
When playing with our foundational embouchure, we keep the jaw steady- no movement at all. When we play with a jazz embouchure we are required to move the jaw in order to produce a pleasing sound.
For example, if we play a low D (making the adjustment to produce our sub-tone) the embouchure will be set for that one note only. You’ll know what I mean if you attempt to play up the D major scale without moving your jaw. The pitch will become increasingly flat- even becoming ugly!
How Do We Fix This?
Simply move your jaw as you go up the scale, adding more pressure to the reed as you ascend. This may sound difficult to coordinate, but it comes quite naturally. Try the following:
- Play up a D major scale without moving your jaw
- Play up a D major scale adding pressure to the reed
When following the instruction in the first bullet point, did you notice how bad the sound became? You probably found yourself wanting to move you jaw, in order to fix the problem.
As you follow the instruction in the second bullet point, you will notice that you’ll continue to have a sub-tone (although to a lesser extent the higher you go). The intonation becomes much easier to control as a result.
Go ahead and give the 2 bullet points a try. Share your results in the comment section below and I’ll provide tips if you’re having any issues. If you’re successful, let us know what helped the most. I’m looking forward to hearing the results of your experiment!
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Here’s a recording I made (off the cuff) for this post. I’m using the jazz embouchure discussed in this post and I’m moving my jaw like crazy! Enjoy!