Advertising and Web Hosting on Woodwind.Org!

Klarinet Archive - Posting 000214.txt from 2005/08

From: Adam Michlin <>
Subj: RE: [kl] Vibrato, color, vibration (was Stolzman & Copland Concerto)
Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2005 14:45:01 -0400

Ahh.. I can always count on Klarinet for a good semantic argument.

"Vibrato". Looking under vibrato in the Harvard Dictionary of Music I found:
[It., from Lat. vibrare, to shake]. A slight fluctuation of pitch used by
performers to enrich or intensify the sound. [blah blah blah, it does go on
later to talk about so-called Vocal Vibrato which combines both pitch and
intensity vibrato]

Seems so far to be pretty clear that vibrato, without a modifier, refers to
what you call "pitch vibrato". But what kind of researcher would I be if I
referred to only one source?

The Online Grove Dictionary says:
(It., from Lat. vibrare: 'to shake'). A regular fluctuation of pitch or
intensity (or both), either more or less pronounced and more or less rapid.

Uh oh. Even the dictionaries don't fully agree.

In my own instrumental circles, the common usage of the word vibrato,
without any further modifier, does refer to pitch vibrato. I suppose I
could really nit pick and take issue with Bryan's use of the word constant
since vibrato, as you point out, is not always constant (or should I say
not constantly constant?). Rapid.. well, that's just relative. At worst he
is guilty of using imprecise terminology (darn English language), but I
clearly understood what he meant.

Regarding how pitch vibrato and intensity vibrato are effected on wind
instruments. If is true that "laryngeal" vibrato creates intensity vibrato
and jaw/lip vibrato creates pitch vibrato, how exactly is it that flute
players are able to produce pitch vibrato? Unless you've come up with a
completely new way to play the flute, I cannot fathom how one would apply
the principles of jaw/lip vibrato on an instrument lacking a
reed/mouthpiece combination.

In fact, throat (forgive me for using the common term) vibrato is used by
many flute players to produce pitch vibrato. My understanding is that
intensity vibrato is generally produced by fluctuations in the abdominal
wall muscles and is often used as an incorrect substitute in attempt to
produce the musical effect we commonly refer to as (pitch) vibrato. I
suspect your casually referenced "cineflourographic studies" back me up,
but I would be more than happy to look them up if you would provide the
full references.


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

At 12:39 PM 8/12/2005, Lacy, Edwin wrote:
>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.

Klarinet is a service of Woodwind.Org, Inc.

     Copyright © Woodwind.Org, Inc. All Rights Reserved    Privacy Policy    Contact