Thursday, September 15, 2011

More BE Analysis from Lou Denaro

I've tried for years to analyse & understand BE. I've just about given up. The embouchure is such a fluid thing, and so difficult to analyze, I've adopted this attitude: Just do BE because it works.  But..... Lou Denaro is different.  His analysis on BE fascinates me. Lou's also teaching me a thing or two about the mysterious world of mouthpieces.  Here's a discussion he recently initiated on my FaceBook wall. 

Lou: Latest BE observation: I've compared it to a "Lip Stretch" (ala Yoga). Now I believe that it's really about using the settings to harden our too soft lip tissues. Ultimately the player ends up covering both sides of Farkas' "oboe reed" aperture, build up the inner tissues in roll out to maintain the larger aperture and build up the outer tissues in the tighter roll in aperture and it's simply a matter of intuitively playing to your dual strengths rolling in and out across the registers and keeping things nice and smooth and beautiful. Amen.
Lou:  Also left out that this tonguing on the lips business is as basic/san artifice attack as most players can manage, it prompts the appropriate response in the appropriate tissues that should be engaged. All of my comments are not purely scientific, but I believe Jeff left it vague in order to let us explore for that reason.  
David:  Lou, great update. Question, given the increased strength of lip muscles due to rolling in, and out, have you found that the ID (inner diameter) of the mouthpiece is sufficient or have you switched, might switch to a larger or smaller id mouthpiece?
Lou: David, this is a put on right? It's almost too good that you're asking this question. I switched to a G&W 4.75 (the biggest cup in their lineup Inner Rim: .709 / Cup Depth: 1.040 / Throat: .184) 3 weeks ago. I also put a bigger rim ID on my Cantesanu piece (for the Paxman). I'm not proud of this. The thing is that Jeff's method is supposed to work with smaller IDs, but it got to the point that I was visibly overpowering the G&W 3.25 (modified Schmidt 10 copy) on my NiSi Schmidt last month. The 4.75 diffuses sax-player-playing-on-a-metal-reed effect that I was starting to get on the 3.25.  Not that matters any way, because I can still play on smaller rims (provided the horn can take it), but Schmidt's have lighter more penetrating sounds than most other horns out there and having more cup volume up front gives you something to back off from and in any case I'm glad I've got more choices up front on how to power up these beasts.
Valerie:  Lou wrote "but I believe Jeff left it vague in order to let us explore for that reason." Exactly! I think you've nailed the "universal principals" side of BE, Lou.  The "vague" part that Smiley left out are the exact details of how these principles apply to the individual. I believe it would be impossible for Jeff to describe exactly how each person's lips achieve balance... so it's best not to speak of such things. 
Valerie: I love the Yoga analogy! 
 Lou: I thought of it last month in Winter Harbor, I was up by myself doing BE on the seashore every morning crack of dawn, we had an Alexander Technique (efficient use of the body) class and participants shared that there was overlap between Yoga stretches and whatever exercise we were doing at 7:45am and then it hit me that I've been doing my own stretches since 6:00.

For more of Lou's insights see this.

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