Getting Serious about Upcoming Performances and Mouthpiece Choices

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There are some things in horn playing that truly are mysterious. One is the interaction between lip and mouthpiece and horn.

As I mentioned in the previous post, I am giving a recital in about a month where I play on several different period and modern horns. Ideally I want to minimize some of the differences between instruments with as consistent an interface as possible.

Initially I thought that interface would be several Laskey 75 series mouthpieces. These are good, solid mouthpieces but as I started gearing up I found myself back to the topic of a post about a year ago, the mouthpiece wheel of doom but with also some more recent thought to the topic of how my lip fits around the rim, something you can see in the photo in this post.

Again, it is one of those mysteries but for some reason the way the Conn 5BN rim fits on my lips it opens something up for me. I used the gold mouthpiece on the right for most of the time I played full summers of Principal Horn at the Brevard Music Center and also on both of my solo CDs. I like how the Laskey mouthpieces feel and play generally but in the end when I need my 33 1/3 LP chops going and my best accuracy there is something about the way the old Conn feels/plays on my chops that it has to be the choice for the recital.

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I have two different silver, custom copies of the 5BN by Osmun, one with a standard shank and one with a European shank which I will use on some of the horns. As I say about this mouthpiece choice in the “wheel of doom” post,

A Conn 5BN?!? I know that sounds a bit hard to believe and rather random in fact, but some of these are quite good. I have three of them actually, one being not nearly as good and two of them quite close with one having an edge over the other. It is on the right in the photo, with the original Conn gold plating. I am told that these were actually produced by outside jobbers, not by Conn itself. This is why these (and other classic brands) vary so much, it always really depends on who actually made the mouthpiece and where, especially these older mouthpieces that were not machine made on computer lathes.

So there it is. I plan at this point to use a Moosewood copy of a period mouthpiece for part of the performance and on that I will use a 5BN rim. It is good to get this element settled again, it makes the practicing much more enjoyable.

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