Vibrato when tuning

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by worzel, Feb 21, 2012.

  1. worzel

    worzel Member

    Almost everyone in our band plays with vibrato when tuning. I wonder if all bands do this. It certainly sounds better, but I wonder if, by doing so, it is actually detrimental to tuning. I know that tuning is more about listening than about adjusting your slides, but wouldn't playing an unaffected pure note give you the best idea of where your tuning is? You'd never use the wammy bar, for instance, when tuning your guitar.
  2. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    You know the answer to this one already; you're only uncertain because everyone around you has it wrong. Obviously it's a silly idea to use vibrato while tuning, due to the oscillations - which are admittedly more likely to be in timbre than pitch, but still obscure the note. The point of a tuning note is not to sound good, it's to calibrate.
  3. James Yelland

    James Yelland Active Member

    I've yet to hear an oboe player give a wobbly A to an orchestra. Take your cue from the professionals, I say.
  4. davejenkins

    davejenkins Member

    Always amusing to see everyone's chops wobbling away when it comes to tuning time. Hey everyone, listen to my beautiful tone!
  5. DublinBass

    DublinBass Supporting Member

    Nor do you ever see string players using hand vibrato when tuning to the oboe or tuning their 5ths.
  6. BikeBadger

    BikeBadger Member

    Can you do vibrato on an open string?
  7. jezza23361

    jezza23361 Member

    I get my players to play a series of crotchets to tune.

    I have always found that the more fiddling with the tuning that I do the worse it gets as they over analyse and try to adjust. I tend to let it sort itself out now.

  8. davidquinlan

    davidquinlan Member

    It depends on whether the player can actually play without vibrato. Some players just can't, so to insist on none will be such an interference on their setup/production of the notes that it will be very likely to throw their pitch off also.
    Ideally, should have none, but not always possible.
  9. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    Wasn't it an oboe player's vibrato laden attempt at an A for a tuning note that prompted Beacham to say "Gentlemen, take your pick"?
  10. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    Ahem. Beecham.
  11. davidquinlan

    davidquinlan Member

    :) I went to try out for a local orchestra once (note, once)... and I'm sure I saw a snake appear from a basket in the corner of the room when the Oboe player gave us his , well, it was supposed to be an A .. :)
  12. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    I think it was also Beecham who commented on a Bassoonist's prominent vibrato, "Oh well, I suppose we can be sure he's in tune at least some of the time ... "
  13. worzel

    worzel Member

    That's what I thought, until I raised it with our solo horn player (who I have a lot of respect for intellectually as well as musically) and she dismissed my silly idea out of hand.
  14. owain_s

    owain_s Member

    No, but you can do a pseudo-vibrato on low open strings, by doing vibrato on the note an octave above on the adjacent string, the resonance of which creates an oscillation of timbre.
  15. worzel

    worzel Member

    You can on a guitar even without a wammy bar, so maybe you could do the same on a violin. You can stick your finger on the bit of string between the nut and tuning peg and apply a modulated pressure. In fact, it looks like there's plentry of room to do this on a violin between the bridge and whatever its called that holds the strings at that end.
  16. BikeBadger

    BikeBadger Member

  17. owain_s

    owain_s Member

    It doesn't really work at either end, creating only a very slight vibrato which is rather uncontrolled and also sounds sharp - a regular violin vibrato moves above and below the correct pitch by equal amounts and the listener's ear averages it out. The changing string tension also makes bowing harder.
  18. worzel

    worzel Member

    Yeah, it doesn't work very well. I can do it on a classical or electric guitar (the tension is too high on a steel acoustic), although it does sound a bit Bollywood :)
  19. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    Not every day I say this worzel, ;) but you're dead right. For tuning-up, everyone should play as straight as they can, as it's the only way to get a really centred idea of where the combination of instrument, lip and ear is sending your note.

    As an aside, it never ceases to amaze me the amount of players who simply can't play without vib. We all need both in our locker - some more than others. Myself as a BBb bass player will be far better served by playing rock-steady ('like gibraltar' as I was once told) and straight 99% of the time.....
  20. worzel

    worzel Member

    That's because I don't post that often, right? ;)

    Glad to hear that the general consensus amongst those whose opinions I respect is that we should tune straight. I wonder if I can persuade our MD to suggest this to the band. I'm sure he already knows, but I wonder why he allows everyone to vib away when tuning up. Mr Horn, are you on here?

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