3D Look At The Trumpet Embouchure

First let’s see how some people think of embouchure.


Some people think of a trumpet embouchure in 1 dimension. That is they think only about how long is the aperture or buzz. Yes this does affect what note is being playing but it is only a small part of the aperture.

(1 front view of aperture length)

(2 front view of aperture length)

How long is the aperture? ie are you playing a low note or a high note. People who think this way tend to only rely on mouth-corner tension to play higher notes. Lip to lip compression has no place here.

Every octave higher that we play; the size of the aperture is cut in half.

Double Pedal C = 64 inches,
Pedal C = 32 inches,
Low C = 16 inches,
Middle C = 8 inches,
High C = 4 inches,
Double High C = 2 inches,
Triple High C = 1 inch

This talks about the part of the trumpet embouchure we can see but it does NOT mean it is 1-D in the real world.


Others think of the embouchure in 2 dimensions.

(3 front view of aperture length and height)

(4 front view of aperture length and height)

Is it a long, tall aperture (low note) or a short, narrow one (high note).

We are still not thinking of how thick the lips are. How much meat the air has to resist.

In a way compression is included here but the biggest benefit of compression is left out.

What does this matter some may ask.

Well if you are doing a physical action but don’t understand what it is supposed to do or how it can help; then it is doubtful that you can get all of the results that another person who understands what to do can obtain.

What is missing here is HOW MUCH LIP MASS is involved, how long is the amount of lip that the air has to fight to get to the mouthpiece.

Think in 3-D

The 3rd dimension is rarely thought of and never mentioned. (Until I wrote this book.) It can in some embouchures play a bigger role in playing the note that the other 2. It also determines how much corner tension is needed.

(5 side view of aperture depth)

A very small amount of lip touching means that the corners need a LOT of tension; as the lips are not offering much resistance to the air. See the air only has to travel or fight through a small space where the lips touch.

(6 side view of aperture depth)

When the lips push together; then they resist the air and there is much less need for corner tension. The air now must travel through 2,3,4 as much as 6 times as much lip contact area before it reaches the mouthpiece.

This distance inside the mouth where the air has to fight the lip surface is called the “aperture tunnel”.

When the lip contact area increases the need for facial or corner tension also decreases. But the need for faster air increases.

In this example drawing 5 has only 1/5 the aperture tunnel that drawing 6 has.

Because of this to obtain the same amount of resistance drawing 5 would need 10 times as much mouth-corner tension.

I can only tense my corners so much and then no more.

That means that drawing 5 setting would have a more limited range for me than drawing 6. And because drawing 6 requires so much less tension; then I can play longer without tiring my facial muscles.

Drawing 6 also makes a cushion which aides in endurance and comfort.

Now it is simply NOT possible to determine how long the aperture is for a given note. Because how much you curl, how much tension you use, and how much compression (how long the aperture tunnel is) all affect how long the vibrating surface needs to be for any given note. And every embouchure uses differing amounts of those things.

This gives the first basic idea of 3D Embouchures.

In my book How the Chops Work I have 69 diagrams and pictures of The main embouchures like Farkas, Maggio, Stevens….. and show how they differ in how they make and use compression using the 3D concept. This really shows you how to fine tune compression for the embouchure type you are using and shows WHY it works.


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