Hah! Check it. I actually spelt “embouchure” correctly. Apparently the word originally just meant “to put an instrument in one’s mouth”, but now it’s more like “the mouth shape a wind player makes to suit his mouthpiece”.
Previously, I’d used a double embouchure on my saxophone – the lips curl round both the up and lower teeth. This has the advantage of allowing a larger mouth cavity (bigger sound), but has a distinct disadvantage insofar as my lips were being torn to shreds.
So, when I picked up my horn again in December, I thought I’d try a new approach, with a standard embouchure, wherein only the bottom lip covers the teeth; the upper teeth lie directly on the mouthpiece. Still, I found that my lower lip was too cut-up to be able to play, and covering my teeth with Rizla paper just meant I ended up with a mouthful of papyrus.
My latest angle is therefore the third accepted type of mouth-shape, in which the lips are placed out and don’t come into contact with the teeth at all. This is the method used by many of the great black jazz saxophonists. So far, I don’t have the lip muscle to be able to play in tune for more than a few minutes at a time – on the plus side though, my lips are blissfully intact. One prominent downside is that I look a bit of an idiot pouting the whole time I’m playing.
If it doesn’t work out I’ll probably go back to the standard embouchure, but I wonder what other players use nowadays…?
P.S. Also worth taking a look at this post on SaxStation for some interesting further reading 😉