Updating the boroque cello
Both lips don’t vibrate with equal intensity, like an oboe or bassoon reed does.While both lips do vibrate with the same frequency (or at least they should), one lip will predominate inside the cup and more surface area will vibrate.A performer whose mouthpiece inner edge is habitually placed on the red (vermillion) of the upper lip is using an embouchure that is not capable of producing the flexibility, strength, and endurance necessary for normal performance. With such a large consensus on this issue it would seem that this advice is sound and should be trusted.Unfortunately for the field of brass pedagogy, this recommendation is not only based on misinformation, but there are many examples of brass players, particularly high brass, who break this rule and perform at very high levels.Regardless, what hasn’t been shown is that the vermilion is sensitive enough to pressure to warrant this caution in the first place.Campos claims that under the vermilion is merely a layer of fatty tissue and that this is what makes them unable to support the rim pressure of normal brass playing.While good intentioned, making such strong statements that a particular mouthpiece placement “should be avoided at all costs” is simply wrong for many players.With a more accurate understanding of the anatomy of the lips and embouchure form and function brass teachers will gain a tool that can help them make more targeted recommendations when a mouthpiece placement is actually hindering a student’s progress, or whether other issues in embouchure technique should be dealt with instead.
The link was the Chateau de Canisy in Normandy where Firsova was resident for a number of years and came to know Wolrich.
But just because there is muscular support underneath the vermilion doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t more sensitive to pressure, just that it’s not so likely.
It is true that there are more nerve endings in the vermilion and the lips are one part of the body that is very sensitive to tactile feedback (the homunculus image of what our bodies would look like if they related to the amount of brain space is an interesting demonstration how sensitive our lips are).
Note that with the vermilion removed you can see that the main muscle group encircling the mouth, the orbicularis oris, can be seen to include not just the area surrounding the red of the lips, but also runs underneath the vermilion as well.
It would appear that Campos’s information that the vermilion cannot accept the rim pressure because it is composed primarily of fatty tissue is false.While placing the mouthpiece so the rim rests on the red of the upper lip is rare and not ideal for most players, suggestions to always avoid this placement are incorrect for a sizable minority of players who not only are capable of playing well with such a low mouthpiece placement, but actually play most efficiently this way.