Views on Vibrato

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by ari01, Jan 15, 2018.

  1. ari01

    ari01 Active Member

    I was looking for peoples views on vibrato, however I'm not really interested in the when or where, I figure that most good conductors will decide that, but more in the how you do it and practice it. I'm looking especially into technique and training exercises as I for one find it pretty difficult for some reason!

    • How do people practice vib? Do you use a metronome and if so what speed? A Semiquaver pulse at 90bpm, faster or slower?
    • Do you find it difficult or easy to produce?
    • What sounds good to you? how wide should it be?
    • Which players have the best?
    • Any good tips and tricks people can share?
    So, over to you good people to discuss :)
  2. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    I think the first step is to get a good grip on why you're using it and what you're aiming for... that end: listen to some good operatic singers or some good violinists (by which I obviously mean both, and plenty of them). Listen to when they use it, how they use it and how they enhance the portrayal of emotion through the music by using it. We use it because they use it.
    The movement utilised many, many arrangements/adaptations of their music, so it stands to reason that we'd use tools at our disposal to copy their expression - having those tools already there, I suppose it only makes sense that we'd continue to use them as we evolved out into more and more original work also.

    How wide should it be? How fast should it be? It depends on the music and what you're trying to portray - if it's too wide and fast it might sound more agitated, where a slower and less wide vib might just add a shimmer/shine without creating too much "energy" in the sound... it all depends what you need.

    I'm not usually a fan of (what I'll call) "uniform, metronomic" vibrato, atleast not in a soloistic sense (it might have a place for blending in a section, or for hiding intonation gremlins).
    Regardless of the frequency/speed or the width of the vibrato - I prefer to vary these factors as the note/phrase goes on, depending on what I'm trying to put across at the time.
    Again - it's an expressive tool, so it has to be varied depending on what you're trying to create with it... which means to get the most out of it, you need control over the frequency and you need control over the width.

    I spent a little time learning to control it a bit more consciously a couple of years ago (as opposed to the "just do it" approach I'd used previously where it was on or off, and any nuance beyond that was purely subconscious, if even present at all) - what really helped then was to start a straight note (no vib) and then gradually introduce it, increasing the frequency and/or width as the note goes, then turning it around again and tailing off back to the straight note again.
  3. David Evans

    David Evans Active Member

    Many years ago I played trumpet in a good youth orchestra. One day the late Jimmy Watson joined up having already been the principal cornet for Desford for several years. He had also recently won both the junior and senior champion soloist of Great Britain titles, aged just 14. However his vibrato was so pronounced that it could cut through steel and he would easily single handedly overpower our large orchestra. A year or so later he went off to the Academy where presumably he learned to control it to such an extent that he became the lyrical trumpet soloist of choice for many top orchestras.
    Jack E and mikelyons like this.
  4. Slide-o-Maniac

    Slide-o-Maniac New Member

    This is interesting, because trombonists also need to decide whether to use lip or slide vibrato. The two produce completely different effects. Additionally, slide vibrato can be extreme or subtle and anywhere in between.

    Knowing when and how to use vib is just another skill for the musician to learn.

    Personally, I have no hard and fast rules. I like to use what I consider to be the most appropriate style given the individual circumstances.

    Having said that, I just don't know how our flugelhorn player keeps up her absolutely huge (and lovely) vib!
    mikelyons likes this.
  5. In an orchestral string section we take our lead from the section principal and no-one overpowers that player. Vibrato style, bowing and fingering are determined by the principal. Brass instruments have a natural vibrato that can be beautifully warmed up by the solo instruments. I don't think vibrato is required in unison passages unless asked for. Rank and file players should never overpower principals !
  6. pbirch

    pbirch Active Member

    Vibrato is like salt, used sparingly it really improves things, overdone and it is horrible.
  7. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    Vibrato - you control it, not the other way round. Like fire, it is a good servant but a bad master!
    Tom-King and Slide-o-Maniac like this.
  8. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    I only started trying out vibrato last week, but having watched our solo horn doing it (beautifully!), it seems to me that your lower jaw shouldn't move up and down so much as gently and rapidly tremble.

    HTH, Ari01

  9. ari01

    ari01 Active Member

    Kind of...

    Thank you for everyone's input. I started the thread however to understand more about how people practice vibrato in their daily routines.
  10. GER

    GER Active Member

    There are three main ways of producing vibrato 1) Moving the instrument by hand, would suggest this is mainly for use by cornet players. 2) Lip vibrato-moving the bottom lip gently up and down 3). Jaw vibrato-moving the jaw gently up and down. (there is a fourth if you are a trombone player-slide vibrato) So would suggest trying each until you find which method suits you best. Once you have decided, I believe it then becomes very much a personal thing, I think it would be fair to say that in brass banding it is more a soloist's tool, I can't remember ever being asked to produce vibrato 'in unison'.
    Do i practice vibrato in my daily routine? No, only if I had a part that could be enhanced by it, and my interpretation of the part would dictate fast or slow, loud or quiet etc etc. I would never use a metronome as in my opinion that would be too regimented.
    Which players have the best? Again I don't think there is an answer to that, listen to some top soloists, I think you'll find they all have a different style, you may hear one you particularly like and wish to emulate.
    My advice would be practice until you are happy with the mechanics of vibrato then develop your own style.
    mikelyons, Suzi Q and Jack E like this.
  11. David Broad

    David Broad Member

    Chedworth Gloucestershire
    Nothing worse than two players playing with different vibrato on the same note at the same time. Modern singers use vibrato as they couldn't sing a straight note if their next pay cheque depended on it and I think some players have the same issues.
    mikelyons likes this.
  12. Euphonium Lite

    Euphonium Lite Active Member

    Dereham, Norfolk
    Whereas my MD is trying to get us to emulate a style where we ALL play Vibrato. With the exception of basses and trombones. To be fair it can help with intonation issues and the general band sound

    Personally I use all 3 methods - the lip vibrato sounds best, but I find it the hardest to control. The jaw is easier to control but I cant do it for long periods without getting tired, and its less pronounced - so most of the time I use "the shake"
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