Guess the Embouchure Type – Hornist Nury Guarnaschelli

It’s time for another installment of “Guess the Embouchure Type.”  Today, I’m going to try to guess the embouchure type of German hornist Nury Guarnashelli.

As always, you need to take this with a grain of salt, but there’s a close enough look at her embouchure that I can state pretty confidently that she belongs to a Very High Placement embouchure type. If you skip ahead to 6:20 into the video you’ll get the closest look at her embouchure.  You can see that the placement is quite high on the lips, with a great deal more upper lip inside the mouthpiece.  Because of the predominance of the upper lip, you don’t really need to see her embouchure in a transparent mouthpiece to tell that it’s probably one of the two downstream embouchure types.  The best clue, however, is the apparent direction of her embouchure motion.  If you know what to look for, you can easily spot her pushing the mouthpiece and lips together up to ascend and pulling them down to descend.  There is only one of the three basic embouchure types that makes this sort of motion, the Very High Placement type.

Her embouchure is also interesting because it is an excellent example of an embouchure motion that has an angular deviation in the general up and down motion.  Her ascending embouchure motion isn’t just to push the mouthpiece and lips up, but she also pushes up and slightly to her left to ascend (this is fairly common).  She also has an off-center mouthpiece placement.  There may be some correlation between these two features, but as I’ve noted before, an off-center mouthpiece placement is actually more common than one perfectly centered.

She’s a very fine player.  I don’t believe I had ever heard her play before.  Tip of the hat to Bruce Hembd at the Horn Matters blog for posting a link to this video.

Wendell Rider

Hi Dave,
Not to argue with what you have to say one bit, but here is my take on her embouchure as a horn player.
Nury has what I would call a classic, fundamentally sound horn embouchure. Although there seems to be a little horizontal offset, that is much much less important than a vertical offset. She sets the outer mouthpiece edge just above the skin line of her lower lip and lets the upper lip just fall in where it wants to, which does happen to be quite a bit, but that is just incidental. To me, this is textbook (OK, maybe my textbook, but who’s counting). If you set above that muscle line, the rest of the setting ratio is just how thick your lips are. She has relatively thin lips, so the setting looks high, but in reality it is not, at all, since her entire lower lip is in the mouthpiece without going down on the face. This allows her to play the complete range of the horn without any shift of mouthpiece placement.
Her lips are lined up evenly, using the jaw slightly forward to accomplish that, as you can see by the amount of red showing on the sides of the mouthpiece. She probably has a slight downward air stream, but that is just conjecture. As she goes higher she seems to roll the upper lip (actually both lips) in slightly- again shown by the red on the sides of the mouthpiece, to make higher vibrations. Just opposite occurs when she goes down low. Pointing the air stream can be part of this, but the critical thing is that her lips are not overlapped and she maintains a wonderfully resonant vibration throughout her range, and I am going out on a limb here, probably by using some slight lip rolling to minimize strain and maximize flexibility.
She has a remarkably efficient embouchure that allows her to play with incredible facility as well as a beautiful tone, full of subtle expression. One would have to say that she has lips that are well suited for the instrument and she has made the best of that gift.
Thanks for posting this. The conversation continues.
She is SUCH a great player.

Dave

Hey, Wendell.

She really is a very fine player. Very musical, too.

I wouldn’t argue with most of your comment. It is “textbook” for a horn player, in that this is the embouchure type that is almost universally taught for horn. You know that I feel the embouchure type should be determined by what fits the player’s anatomy, not the instrument.

I do quibble with what you call the “muscle line.” The red membrane of the lips are above the muscles. The obicularis oris is the muscle group that surrounds the lips and is also right underneath the vermillion. There’s no line where the muscle ends and the lips begin, unless you’re talking about the skin. The downstream embouchure is a result of having more upper lip inside. You’ll need to spend some time looking at players in a transparent mouthpiece to see this for yourself.

Dave

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