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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000208.txt from 2005/08

From: "Lacy, Edwin" <>
Subj: RE: [kl] Vibrato, color, vibration (was Stolzman & Copland Concerto)
Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2005 12:41:08 -0400

<<<The point of using the term "vibration" was to eliminate the link to
sound aspect and to get readers to focus on the technique and the
act of vibrating the airflow or diaphram or firmness of the

<<<"Vibrato" is rapid, regular, constant, and involves variations in
around a particular tone.>>>

Well, I have been learning, utilizing and teaching vibrato for a
half-century now, and I have to say that the sentence above in no way
reflects my understanding of what vibrato should be. Vibrato does not
have to be rapid; it is not necessarily regular (in fact, sometimes it
is too irregular); it often involves variations in pitch, but that is
only one type of vibrato.

There are two fundamentally different ways of producing vibrato. There
is "pitch oscillation vibrato," and "intensity oscillation vibrato."
However, intensity oscillation vibrato, produced by causing variations
in the pressure or speed of air contacting the vibrating medium, will
also cause some changes in pitch. Among woodwind players, the first
type, pitch oscillation vibrato, is sometimes informally called "lip
vibrato" or "jaw vibrato." The second type is more commonly referred to
as "breath vibrato," "throat vibrato" or "diaphragmatic vibrato," but it
more properly should be called "laryngeal vibrato." Numerous
cineflourographic studies have now confirmed that.

This is a topic about which a book could be written, and in fact a
number of books have addressed it. I just don't have time to write a
complete exposition of my method of teaching and employing vibrato.
But, I must say that I was quite surprised that the message quoted above
apparently met with wide-spread approbation on the list. Suffice it to
say for now that there are opposing viewpoints that are generally
accepted among performers of the flute, oboe, bassoon and saxophone, the
woodwinds on which vibrato is more often employed.

If anyone is interested in some of the writings that support the view I
have expressed, I would recommend "The Art of Wind Playing" by Arthur
Weisberg, and one of the earliest attempts to analyze and codify
thinking about vibrato, a chapter in "The Psychology of Music" by Carl
Seashore, an important book from the 1930's which is still highly
regarded today.

Ed Lacy
University of Evansville

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