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Vibrato. How much and when.

Jamesmac

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Vibrato along with articulation, are probably the two most important devices we use that gives us our own particular musical identity. Even more than the actual sound we make, because they are so much part of our sound. I would like your opinions as to your approach to how you use VIBRATO and what your reasons are for what you do. I have set ideas myself, which I would like to share in due course. But as far as I'm concerned there is nothing set in stone. But what we do will inevitably label us in one way. This could be interesting for all, the starter or late bloomer who may be unsure about how much to use and the seasoned pro, who will see how others approach this facet of playing a wind instrument. I think a singers viewpoint would be also very useful.

Ps. Audio ex. More than welcome, to make your point
 
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Chris

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"Vibrato" is like salt and pepper, add to ones own taste. Some may like a lot, some a like a little or none at all. It's a players own taste that makes us all different..

Chris..
 

Chris

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I would like to add that sometimes unisons with guitar players require vibrato "upwards", sharpening the note. Luckily it is an uncommon event.

Not if the guitarist bends the note to pitch first, he can go sharper and flatter then>:) or on a more serious note get the guitarist to play a fretless guitar:thumb: http://youtu.be/yshLWYjMijo

Chris.
 

Wade Cornell

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New Zealand and Australia
Yes it's a personal thing, but it has also been a matter of fashion, and still is. For myself I'd like to think that I can control it and use it in the same way a singer does. Anyone remember Maria Muldaur? Wonderful sultry voice but the thing that she had going (that was different) was a vibrato that matched the tempo. Great control and made all the difference. I'd like to be able to consciously use vibrato the same way, but that takes concentration and there's a lot of other stuff going on.

For most of us it's a matter of habits (good or bad). I was taught to play strictly with vibrato, so it's taken a while to be able to turn it off. Personal opinion: I've heard people here with awful vibrato that would benefit from turning it down and gaining control. I've also heard people who have no vibrato who sound dead and need to warm and liven up their sound.

It's a tool that can be used appropriately or misused. I don't think that there are any strict rules that one could apply, but I also think it’s best when used in a way where it's part of the communication of the music being played and not necessarily noticed.

The same is true for lots of other devices we use in playing e.g. growls, slurs/slides, false notes, altissimo, etc. Each of these is best heard as part of the context and communication of the music and not as a stand out gimmicks that distract. I think the majority can hear when any of these, including vibrato is overdone.

Does/should the majority rule? No! Each individual can do whatever they want and play for the rest of their lives in a closet just to amuse themselves. However if one has the goal of playing for others as an entertainer, then it may be a good idea to have some idea of how your playing is perceived by those you seek to entertain. Once again this can be a matter of fashion and changes over time. I don’t think anyone should feel that they have to follow fashion and hopefully there will always be individuals who are “form breakers” that change fashion or perceptions. This is where honesty and self awareness needs to come to the fore. If you’re “different” and not communicating well or achieving your goals as a player do you “stick to your guns” with an attitude of “I’m great and nobody understands me” or examine your priorities to see what’s most important to you? On the other hand there are real talented individuals who occasionally come along and tweak the way we hear. They are rare, but have in common that lots of people get where they are coming from...their artistry communicates.
 

Jamesmac

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1,872
Yes it's a personal thing, but it has also been a matter of fashion, and still is. For myself I'd like to think that I can control it and use it in the same way a singer does. Anyone remember Maria Muldaur? Wonderful sultry voice but the thing that she had going (that was different) was a vibrato that matched the tempo. Great control and made all the difference. I'd like to be able to consciously use vibrato the same way, but that takes concentration and there's a lot of other stuff going on.

For most of us it's a matter of habits (good or bad). I was taught to play strictly with vibrato, so it's taken a while to be able to turn it off. Personal opinion: I've heard people here with awful vibrato that would benefit from turning it down and gaining control. I've also heard people who have no vibrato who sound dead and need to warm and liven up their sound.

It's a tool that can be used appropriately or misused. I don't think that there are any strict rules that one could apply, but I also think it’s best when used in a way where it's part of the communication of the music being played and not necessarily noticed.

The same is true for lots of other devices we use in playing e.g. growls, slurs/slides, false notes, altissimo, etc. Each of these is best heard as part of the context and communication of the music and not as a stand out gimmicks that distract. I think the majority can hear when any of these, including vibrato is overdone.

Does/should the majority rule? No! Each individual can do whatever they want and play for the rest of their lives in a closet just to amuse themselves. However if one has the goal of playing for others as an entertainer, then it may be a good idea to have some idea of how your playing is perceived by those you seek to entertain. Once again this can be a matter of fashion and changes over time. I don’t think anyone should feel that they have to follow fashion and hopefully there will always be individuals who are “form breakers” that change fashion or perceptions. This is where honesty and self awareness needs to come to the fore. If you’re “different” and not communicating well or achieving your goals as a player do you “stick to your guns” with an attitude of “I’m great and nobody understands me” or examine your priorities to see what’s most important to you? On the other hand there are real talented individuals who occasionally come along and tweak the way we hear. They are rare, but have in common that lots of people get where they are coming from...their artistry communicates.


I also agree that any vibrato should communicate the music being played. I used to listen to gypsy clarinet, they play with a very wide vibrato, similar to Klesmer, which works, and has worked for that style for many years. But the same approach would sound disastrous for Mozart.
Ps. But a clever musician can use elements of both. Depending on what he wants to convey musically.
 
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kernewegor

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I vary, depending on what I'm playing, the mood I'm in, what pops into what I laughingly call my mind.... on the whole I think that I tend to use vibrato sparingly - but wisely, and with exquisite taste, of course...

Of course, in the words of Burns: "Oh wad God the giftie gie us/ to see oorselves as ithers see us..." - substitute 'hear' for 'see'... I suppose I ought to get round to doing something to this computer so I could actually record something.... people notoriously dislike the sound of their own voices played back to them...could be a shock!
 

old git

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Remember Miles. He said he would only use vibrato when he grew old and had the shakes.

Suspect I've got there.:verysad
 

Jamesmac

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1,872
Vibrato IMHO should come from within, because I believe that back in the dark ages, that's where it came from in the first place. From a voice that was inspired by the sound it was making, or words, used vibrato without thinking about it. perhaps it was a caveman playing a flute made out of bone. Even today a flute rarely plays without the using vibrato. Which is another fact, some instruments always use varying degrees, like the solo stringed instruments, although much less in baroque music. The clarinet in classical music would never use vibrato ( if it knows what's good for it) may have something to do with the name, invented in Germany Klarinette. Taken from the word KLAR . or CLEAR. Vibrato is connected to our emotional side, so it's understandable that hearing a particular vibrato can give us joy or have the opposite effect. Sometimes without realising it. The manufactured vibrato is probably the most despised, because it is telling us, I feel everything the same or I am following a fashion. Or i dont want to tell you how i feel. Singers tend to start a note without then tail off with a bit. Tempo is a factor, along with the feel of the piece, ie major or minor. I think if we revert to a mechanical way of using the powerful tool that is Vibrato, then we have forgotten why we wanted to play an instrument in the first place.
 

TomMapfumo

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Skabertawe, South Wales
I agree with Miles wholeheartedly! Who wants to sound like a Brass Band? As Beecham once said: "Brass Bands are all very well in their place - outdoors and several miles away." I only use it to add a sarcastic or ironic note to what I'm playing...............:shocked::w00t:;}
 

Jamesmac

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1,872
It would be interesting to make a list of sucessful or accepted mediums for the overdone and the no vibrato camps. I think the brass band fits in with the overdone, and is an aquired taste. But Edith Piaf, Charles Aznavour. Bechet. All overdone, but very successful.
 

baritonesax

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Twickenham
Well, I think vibrato is appropriate, even in classical clarinet up to a point, but really just to colour certain notes rather than a continuous effect. I find Bechet's soprano playing more or less intolerable on account of his vibrato, and a fair amount of Coltrane's stuff is rendered charmless (sometimes even inhuman) by a complete lack of it. I only have to consider Michael Brecker's playing as a good example of a modern player who made judicious use of vibrato - as seasoning, as Chris alluded to.
 

thesaxman71

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1,687
Well, I think vibrato is appropriate, even in classical clarinet up to a point, but really just to colour certain notes rather than a continuous effect. I find Bechet's soprano playing more or less intolerable on account of his vibrato, and a fair amount of Coltrane's stuff is rendered charmless (sometimes even inhuman) by a complete lack of it. I only have to consider Michael Brecker's playing as a good example of a modern player who made judicious use of vibrato - as seasoning, as Chris alluded to.

I agree 100% and you used a great way of giving examples of players vibrato styles.
When playing I opt for MB vibrato, the sparingly used and slower warmer styled mostly in ballads. I tend to think, when using vibrato, how a singer would sound using it, in the following examples they would not sound nice with either a fast shivering-like vibrato or using none at all and sounding monotone & dull drone-like.
 

Jamesmac

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1,872
Well, I think vibrato is appropriate, even in classical clarinet up to a point, but really just to colour certain notes rather than a continuous effect. I find Bechet's soprano playing more or less intolerable on account of his vibrato, and a fair amount of Coltrane's stuff is rendered charmless (sometimes even inhuman) by a complete lack of it. I only have to consider Michael Brecker's playing as a good example of a modern player who made judicious use of vibrato - as seasoning, as Chris alluded to.
The only time i felt like using a bit of vibrato in Classical Clarinet is when i had a bad reed.>:)
 

Jamesmac

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1,872
I agree 100% and you used a great way of giving examples of players vibrato styles.
When playing I opt for MB vibrato, the sparingly used and slower warmer styled mostly in ballads. I tend to think, when using vibrato, how a singer would sound using it, in the following examples they would not sound nice with either a fast shivering-like vibrato or using none at all and sounding monotone & dull drone-like.

But if you have a clear ringing timbre, with no vibrato , you can sound like an angel.Thats why everybody goes AH..... when a child sings.
 

thesaxman71

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1,687
But if you have a clear ringing timbre, with no vibrato , you can sound like an angel.Thats why everybody goes AH..... when a child sings.
indeed that too..OR, they could be thinking ahh, stick a lolly in that kids gob to shut it up hahahah
seriously tho i think it is just nice to have the option when to "switch it on and off"
 

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