Vibrato or No Vibrato? that is the Question

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by GingerMaestro, May 18, 2006.

  1. GingerMaestro

    GingerMaestro Active Member

    I don't know if this has be discussed before.

    What do you all think about the use of vibrato.

    If you were playing a solo (nice melodic slow melody) and got told to stop the vibrato what would you say

    Or if the music was markeed Cantabile or dolce etc and you were told to leave off the vib what would you say.

    I believe it is a good thing when used in the right context but to play with none at all Unless in a fanfare or march etc type music would make the music lifeless.

    please let me know what you think
  2. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    Hadleigh, Essex
    As someone who is primarily a sax player I am very familiar with the the use - and abuse ;) - of vibrato. Soon after I'd moved onto saxophone from clarinet I wrote to Jack Brymer on the subject, receiving by return of post a lovely hand-written reply, pointing out that there could never be a hard and fast rule regarding vibrato.

    Whilst traditionally it used to be said that brass band players always used vibrato and orchestral players never did, I think people now recognise that that is too simplistic a view. I came across an article on another forum about vibrato by one of the top players (but I can't remember who :oops: ) advocating the sympathetic and sensitive application of vibrato in orchestral work, particularly for a solo line, rather than playing in a chorale or similar. It is certainly true that tastes regarding vibrato vary greatly, with the pronounced vibrato employed in the past by eastern european - and to some extent french - orchestras now having fallen out of fashion, but I still find it odd to hear some of the Janacek fanfares for example played dead straight.

    As for the specific questions raised in the first post, if playing in a group then you should surely be guided by the man in the middle, or your section leader, as well as by the context of the music you are playing.
  3. pocket euphonium90

    pocket euphonium90 Member

    My Own World
    I think that vib is good in a) the right context amd b) not the bleeting goaty throat vib!
    hello all, a different person typeing here, well what i believe is that a good natural vib make a peice sound nice. and talking as someone with aforemention vib, not blowing my own trumpet (i borrow it!) it gets you noticed.
  4. Charmed

    Charmed Active Member

    Ha, so that's why I've never been able to play with a vib (and why our conductor pulls his hair out in frustration at me) because I learnt to play on the French Horn, an orchestral instrument!

    But seriously, I do think that a nice vibrato, played in the right moments, makes the music so much more enjoyable to listen to.
  5. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    I like it! In the right place of course....
  6. Shaggy

    Shaggy New Member

    The point that tends to get missed with the vibrato question is whether or not the player is IN TUNE! if the vibrato is carefully centered round the correct note it is supirsing just how much vibrato a player can get away with. Listen to Harry James, he used a lot of vibrato but every note is absolutely spot on in tune and there is no doubt where the center of pitch is.Far too often in brass bands vibrato is used as a crutch for poor tuning and an inability to hold a note clean and straight for any length of time. Vibrato is a usefull expressive tool, but a dangerous one in the wrong hands, a bit like giving a baby a scalpel to play with.
  7. bardsandwarriors

    bardsandwarriors Member

    I think some players have a tendency to overplay the vibrato, in a self-indulgent way. I know that I do it myself sometimes, when let loose on a solo. But I try to remember how much I hate bad female soprano singers wobbling their voices like their lives depend on it - which always seems to go hand in hand with purple dyed bouffant hair and mis-applied lipstick, for some reason.

    Having said that, a piece played dead straight only works in certain circumstances, like a close harmony or a deeply sad tune (which, with vibrato, might sound way too melodramatic). The absence of life sounds like a deadpan voice - best used for dry jokes and crushed melancholy.

    Somewhere in between those extremes there can be a lot of expression by meandering around the note in a very slow or variable way, which doesn't wobble as obviously as vibrato, but which brings the tune to life.
    Last edited: May 18, 2006
  8. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    Using vibrato does not mean you are playing Cantabile, Dolce, or well, or in tune for that matter....

    It should be used as an embellishment to good tone, good style, in tune playing. Think of it as a garnish on top of a good meal, if the meal is burnt then a sprig of parsley ain't going to make that meal edible.

    I was fortunate that I was taught to turn vib on and off and also vary the amount used. Its a great tool when used correctly. For example, if you have a long note in a slow piece why do you have to play it with vib all the way through? Why not start it straight and gradually bring the vib on over the length on the note? But then you might want to play with vib right through, or with none at all - it depends all sorts of stuff like the piece you are playing, and how that particular note fits with the melody or chording or both.

    The secret is firstly being able to turn it on and off, secondly being able to vary the speed and amount used, but most importantly of all knowing when to use it and which type of vib to use (if any) for particular time in a particular piece.

    Oh, and the above applies once you have sorted your tone and intonation out - vib should not be used to "hide" poor tone or intonation, as frankly, it doesn't - if anything it exaggerates it.
    Last edited: May 18, 2006
  9. highlander

    highlander New Member

    Someone who´s got it right.
    I hope that everyone reads your coment.

    Thank you


    I think trombones played with a vibrato sound hideous. A warm sound with rounded edges sounds best to me for slow melodies. It's different of course for the other brass band instruments, but definately not for the trombone. Always reminds me of 90 yr old blokes trying to play...
  11. RDH

    RDH New Member

    Another question pops in mind. What is the best way to produce a nice, controlled vibrato? I've been told that the best way to play vibrato is by using the lower lip (how is that called in English? ;) ) or even moving the whole jaw, but others say you have to do it with yout breath. Wat is you opinion about this?
  12. jingleram

    jingleram Active Member

    Good question, this, I was going to post it myself! For me, I always used to control my vib. using my breath, but have recently started using my lower lip instead. It dosen't yet come naturally to me, but I find my tone has improved no end!! It will take a while for it to become automatic, but I think it is worth putting in the extra effort for the result!!
  13. BeatTheSheep

    BeatTheSheep Member

    Chorley, Lancs
    Except when playing the cantabile tune in Resurgam
  14. Bayerd

    Bayerd Active Member

    I know what you mean, however providing the player has the warm sound vibrato can be a nice touch in the right setting. As Ian has previously stated, the trick is knowing when and how to use vibrato so that it adds to a performance rather than detracting from it.
  15. Like most have said before vibrato is like icing on the cake, if you can get it right and use it in the righ place it can sound brilliant, over use it and you can sound very very nervous and it ruins the whole thing!

    I must admit, I am awful for slipping into the habit of playing with vibrato a lot and have to stop myself.
  16. Dave Euph

    Dave Euph Member

    There's an excellent article in a recent issue of The Brass Herald by Ian Bousefield on the use of vibrato, certainly interesting coming from a trombonists perspective! But basically he explains what has been said already: that its use is context-dependent.

    However, he also emphasised the importance of not using vibrato to cover up a poor tone or poor intonation. It is used to enhance the sound, not make it in the first place!
  17. Sir_Threepwood

    Sir_Threepwood Member

    Like that Roger Webster small range and still quick vibrato, and his control over it is unbelievable. Never got around it how he's able to produce such a neat, quick and yet controlled vibrato which also perfectly fits in tutti playing (compared to my rather broad-ranged, low-frequenzy vibrato which stopped me from using it when playing with the rest of the crew; I only use it for solo passages).

    Any ideas what the trick could be?
  18. Anon_User

    Anon_User New Member

    Vibrato?????? That should be limited to pieces where that type of nuance is required within the context of the music.Keep it pure until its needed I say (as trumpet players tend to do)!!!!!!!
  19. pocket euphonium90

    pocket euphonium90 Member

    My Own World
    I was told by my teacher, not to use vib controlled by air, it tends to be a bit bleeting goat! But using vib from the jaw improves sound and can add interest to pieces in context. The best way to learn to control vib is by starting of slowly. learnt to lower your jaw every minim or so.. Then move on to crotchets. Quavers, triplets and so on. Dont over do the vibrato though... its good to add interest to longer notes.
  20. persins

    persins Member

    Reading, England
    I agree that it should be used when required and never just for the sake of it.
    It should be a garnish as mentioned previously. Lots of players seem incapable of turning it off or seem to take it as a personal afront when told not to use vibrato. I think that it should be dictated by the conductor and only used when it will enhance the sound of the music.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice