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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000229.txt from 2005/08

From: "Bryan Crumpler" <>
Subj: RE: [kl] Vibrato, color, vibration (was Stolzman & Copland Concerto)
Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2005 22:08:12 -0400

>From: "Lacy, Edwin" <>
>Subject: RE: [kl] Vibrato, color, vibration (was Stolzman & Copland
>><<<"Vibrato" is rapid, regular, constant, and involves variations in
>>*pitch* around a particular tone.>>>
>I must say that I was quite surprised that the message quoted above
>apparently met with wide-spread approbation on the list.


Ed, that's probably because I took the description from a dictionary... and
the definition or variation thereof is somewhat the same in most others as
was also pointed out. Princeton & the American Heritage Dictionary define it
so in terms of rapidness and pitch. That I used the words constant and
regular was simply to get across that it happens repeatedly or continually
(i.e. constantly) and theoretically in the same manner..... a whole lotta
times (i.e. regularly). I'm not trying to write an unambiguous scholarly
paper here...

>There are two fundamentally different ways of producing vibrato. [snip]

In this regard, I think you missed the point of my message. I wasn't
interested in *how to produce* vibrato or the different types that exist etc
etc etc. We were talking about how to **use** it to produce different colors
in the sound.

Most clarinetists don't have a problem with people (other clarinetists) who
"color", although they *do* have problems with people who just "use
vibrato." So, I was thinking to myself... ok... this sounds kinda
contradictory. If all these artists we consider great "vibrate" in a way
that produces a sort of vibrato... then why does their vibrato sometimes
sound more musical than other peoples? And why are these great artists who
use it so lauded when so many clarinetists condemn vibrato altogether? There
*must* be a fundamental difference somewhere down the line. And I came to
realize that that difference is in its usage, not in its production.

For example, what you mention about varying the intensity, changing vibrato
speed, changes in regularity/constancy of the vibrato speed or whatever --
that is "coloring"... not simply "producing vibrato". I tried clarifying
this with my reference to string players and the wiggling of the hand.

Not to slight your years of experience and expertise, but your understanding
of vibrato is exactly what the whole misconception is among clarinetists
worldwide who condemn the use of it. Vibrato is a subcategory to coloring,
not vice versa. You can always talk about coloring the sound without talking
about vibrato. But you shouldn't be teaching vibrato unless you have
discussed "color" first with your student.

Why? Because teaching someone to oscillate their jaw position slightly or to
contract their diaphram (or whatever the preferred methods are for a
particular instrument) is teaching vibrato. Teaching them to control it a
particular way, regulate it, speed it up in certain passages, slow it down,
spare it, relax and/or intensify it to give a particular aural effect that
transmits to the audience as *musical* (whatever their subjective view of
musical is) is teaching them to "color". It's no different from teaching
people to be able to *read* music and teaching them how to **make** music.
Shoot me if there is anyone does not understand the difference between
"reading" music and "making" it.

This is whole reason I said that "vibrato" in itself is not inherently
musical. Understanding what you can do to modify the color of the sound and
how that modification translates to an audience is what's important. Vibrato
is just *one* of those ways.

With all the people I have had training from in the States, everyone has
always tossed everything related to vibrations, palpitations, or quavers in
the sound under the heading "vibrato". And in the States, it's always been a
question of whether to use it or not to use it. Not only until I furthered
my studies in Europe was the idea of "color" introduced to me... There is
where I learned HOW to use it and what it achieves when you use it
*consciously* in a particular way. I would guess this is probably one of the
reasons why so many Europeans characterize the "American sound" (however
stereotypical it is) as boring. It's not a question of tonal quality...
there are thousands of American clarinetists with a beautiful tone. But in
the American school of clarinet... we are always taught "to use, or not to
use" when it comes to vibrato but we are never taught "how to use" ... This
can especially present a problem for the student who isn't as instinctively
musical as others.

Okie doke... I've had enough. Soak in what you will. It's Friday night...
I'm going to have some fun.

Best regards,

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