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The first issue that should be addressed is that there is always some rim placed on the vermilion, there is simply no placement that avoids it.
Arban stated, “The mouthpiece should be placed in the middle of the lips, two-thirds on the lower lip, and one-third on the upper lip.” (Arban, 1982, p. This contrasts with Dennis Wick, who recommended 2/3 upper lip and 1/3 lower lip (Wick, , 1971, p. Philip Farkas felt that such differences were related to the particular type of instrument, with 2/3 lower lip being an embouchure for trumpet and 2/3 upper lip better suited for instruments like horn and trombone (Farkas, , 1962, p. Although the recommendations of these and other noted brass pedagogues comes with some caveats and is considered somewhat flexible by many, one recommendation about mouthpiece placement is frequently advised by almost all of them – avoid placing the mouthpiece so that the rim sets on the red (vermilion) of the upper lip.
He explained to me that by pinching off that top lip so much you are limiting the use of the musculature of your face, and the amount of vibrating mass you are putting into the mouthpiece is not sufficient to develop a good tone.
This is partially true, but a more complete understanding of basic embouchure patterns will show that for some players reducing the vibrating surface of the upper lip is helpful, where with others it can hinder good playing.
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).
A very clear example that is handily available to view online is Lloyd Leno’s film, Lip Vibration of Trombone Embouchures.
This video shows several different players playing into transparent mouthpieces and filmed with a high speed camera so that we can view the pattern of vibrations of both lips.
Follow the above link and note the difference between the downstream players’ lip vibrations, who all place with more upper lip inside, and the upstream players’ lip vibration, who place with more lower lip inside.
For some upstream players, it is actually beneficial for more rim contact to help reduce the intensity of vibrations in the upper lip.
The other lip will vibrate with less intensity and serve in some ways to be more like a clarinet mouthpiece, as a hard surface for the reed/other lip to vibrate against.
This is not “arm chair” speculation, it has been studied and demonstrated by a handful of independent researchers.
Proponents of keeping the placement off the red sometimes counter that with less rim contact on the vermilion the damaging effects are minimized or eliminated.