Experiments in Einsetzen

The first time I ever saw a brass player using an einsetzen embouchure was in a brass band in the early 1990s. I was only fourteen years old and our brass band was on tour in Germany. A member from another band was helping us out on the tenor horn and this guy set his mouthpiece in a very strange way. In all of his playing he played with the mouthpiece positioned inside his bottom lip and the bottom lip protruded outside the rim of the mouthpiece. It worked for him, although he didn’t play very taxing music. At the time I just thought of it as little more than a curiosity; little did I know that hundreds of years ago it was one of the ways that people learnt to play the french horn, or that twenty years later I’d be teaching people this very technique, albeit with completely different intentions.

To me, in recent times, the einsetzen embouchure is thought of as being a part of the Tongue Controlled Embouchure system. It was first written about (in modern times for the trumpet at least) in the book Trumpet Yoga by Jerome Callet, the first edition of which was published in 1971. I have written my own book on the subject titled Exploring The Double Pedal Register and I recently set myself the challenge of writing a further sixty exercises to accompany this book. In doing so, and through teaching the technique, I have learnt a few things about how to describe the way that the einsetzen embouchure works for trumpet and how it can benefit embouchure development. Over the years I have also spotted a number of examples of various accomplished and famous trumpet players playing notes with this embouchure setting. Although this shows their awareness of it being possible I doubt that they use it much or teach it to any of their pupils. If that were the case then everyone would be talking about it in the same way that there’s hype over leadpipe playing, for example.

This post isn’t going to go into much depth about how the einsetzen position is normally used as I have already written multiple times about that. This link and this one are to posts or pages that explain that idea in greater detail. There are also videos of Bahb Civiletti demonstrating playing from double pedal C (C2) to double high C (C7) on one of those links.
For an explanation of the note numbering system in this text please refer to this post about defining the range of the trumpet.

The purpose of this post is to discuss if the system can be taken further. As it is used by the TCE system we only play seven notes in the double pedal register. That’s one note for each fingering and they serve to extend the harmonic series of each fingering with an einsetzen/ansetzen movement. You can, however, play as much as a fifth higher as a few pupils of mine have discovered the first time they try to play a double pedal C. Often this is the result of trying to maintain the same sensation in the lips even when using a different type of embouchure (which is not what you are supposed to do at first!!). You can also extend the range downward in pitch as far as triple pedal C (C1). In both instances of expanding the range you do not have the use of valves on your side. When playing the usual C2 down to F#1 the length of the sound wave is twice as long as the length of tubing you are playing on and as a result some overtones are excited properly. When the wavelength does not relate to the notes you are playing then they are more difficult to produce and do not sound as good either. It is for this reason that I would normally argue that there is no good reason to practice playing other notes with the einsetzen embouchure, but for the sake of experimentation I wanted to establish what is possible using a standard B-flat trumpet.

As a proof of concept I wrote five exercises that demonstrate how you could play from G2 to C#1 using the most effective alternative fingerings. For any pitches above double pedal C I think you should generally play on open fingering as playing the note D2 on fingering 3+1 would require a lot of tension and forcing of the sound. Playing that same D2 on open is as simple as bending a C2 upwards in pitch and that same forcing is not necessary. As an exception to the rule I recognise that you could similarly play C#2 with the 2nd valve as this would be like bending a B1 upwards by a tone. For any pitches below double pedal G you can use a system of practicing the double pedal G (G1) on both the 3+1 combination and on the open tubing. Once this ability is established you can then use the valves with standard fingerings to aid playing chromatically down to triple pedal C# (C#1). Credit should be given here to Daniel Bray who first suggested playing the G1 on open fingering to me.

Here is a chart of the suggested fingerings:

The five exercises can be downloaded for free by using the following link:

[purchase_link id=”1880″ style=”button” color=”orange” text=”Download” direct=”true”]

Here is a short video of me demonstrating playing through these exercises and demonstrating that the fingerings work:

Although at this time the ability to play the complete double pedal register from G2 to C#1 may be of limited value for either music or embouchure development it is worth knowing how it should be done should anyone wish to take these experiments further. I will certainly continue to make videos of myself playing melodies in this range, using this technique and add any further information as it comes to light. It may be that this technique can be used in combination with technology for music creation and likewise I will post anything that I manage to create in that respect.

If you are curious about playing with an einsetzen embouchure in the double pedal register then please feel free to get in touch or buy my ebook from the Trumpet Planet Store.


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