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Bram Heemskerk

Violin Vibrato: SLOW MOTION: Dos and Don'ts

February 27, 2012 at 2:54 PM

Since several weeks I have violinlessons, specially to get a bigger tone in my band, because there you hear more than in an orchestra. I had a fast and small vibrato, but now it is bigger and slower, but I have throuble to give my bow the right pressure on the strings with vibrato during a f or p note or crescendo or decrescendo. Here a video with instructions, but even my violintecher consider this vibrato as too much and not enough pulse:


From Simon Streuff
Posted on February 27, 2012 at 6:29 PM
even though its a romantic vibrato I would try to keep the fingers who not vibrate closer to the string, it just generally helps the left hand technique to be as close as possible to the string with all fingers. Also in that position one can find a good romantic vibrato and it will be easier to come into it and switch between fast passages and long, vibrated notes.
but Thank you for the Video, I will recommend it to some of my students!
From John Cadd
Posted on February 27, 2012 at 10:20 PM
The thumb base joint is swivelling to and fro too much . That messes up the intonation . The words say "the thumb pivots " but the pictures say "the base joint of the thumb keeps flexing and wobbling" . The vibrato sounds violent and unpleasant. I think that`s because two vibrato types are being mixed up in reality altho the words don`t admit it . My fingers do not bend ( bending angle of joint , not flexing movement ) as much at the first joint ( next to the nail) so I don`t think you should try to copy that appearance if your finger has a gentle angle at the joint . It`s best to realise your joints are not changeable . The fourth finger part shows the hand shape continually changing.ie 3rd re 4th . I don`t agree with that. ( See slo- mo comment below ) . Playing so close to the nail does not make such a warm sound as with the finger pad. Otherwise the vibrato is too flappy and wide for wrist vibrato . Keep the fingertips closer to the strings . "Wide "is for arm vibrato pivotting from the elbow . The thumb pad is not the only part that can be used against the neck . Intonation is more important than vibrato (See Carl Flesch about thumb and neck contact . He taught Joseph Hassid if you want to hear some vibrato ). Warmth of tone will vary with at least 3 things.Test this without any vibrato first. 1) Open string ,2) finger on string at the fleshy pad, 3) finger on string right near the nail. I am interested in theories about the best shape to cut your nails and how that affects the vibrato sound . Since this video is so concerned with a wide vibrato I would distinguish between wrist pivotting vibrato and elbow pivotting vibrato. The pivots "should" stay still to separate the 2 types. If you mix them up you have to spell that out clearly for beginners.
At 3 .52 the instructions are to keep the wrist pivot still.This is not happening when she plays. Technically the "slo-mo film " is not that. It`s just being done slow in real time ,hence the distorted hand shapes that you can see. You need more expensive equipment for a slo-mo film.
From Terez Mertes
Posted on February 28, 2012 at 4:32 PM
I enjoyed watching this tutorial, as it covers one of the things I'm struggling with. Thanks for posting.
From steven su
Posted on February 29, 2012 at 3:53 AM
I am no expert at vibrato but hers sound rather wide and sloppy? and a bit to the slower side. Not sure if it's a desirable vibrato that I would want? and her fingers vibrato so much that her notes sound really outta tune. Again, I am not an expert just saying how I feel about her sound but she did bring interesting points about hand and finger positions
From Adrian Heath
Posted on March 1, 2012 at 1:17 PM
Just a passing comment: the rare recordings of Joseph Hassid reveal a fast, crystalline vibrato (the charm of a Kreisler with the precision of a Heifetz?). They were made in 1940 when he was 17. Earlier, he used to complain that his vibrato was too slow..
Menuhin's vibrato at 20 was faster and tighter than at 15..

A good slow, wide vibrato can always be improved. Tonus rather than tension!

From John Cadd
Posted on March 3, 2012 at 4:00 PM
Leonid Kogan plays Tchaikovsky Melodie in a colour utube video and you can see how he lays the finger on it`s pad to make a warm romantic sound. The camera is on his left side so the view of his fingers is very clear. He could stand the fingers on end if he wanted to. He chooses to use the pads very often. The vibrato movement is not excessive either .
From John Cadd
Posted on March 3, 2012 at 4:00 PM
Leonid Kogan plays Tchaikovsky Melodie in a colour utube video and you can see how he lays the finger on it`s pad to make a warm romantic sound. The camera is on his left side so the view of his fingers is very clear. He could stand the fingers on end if he wanted to. He chooses to use the pads very often. The vibrato movement is not excessive either . Watch out for the base joint of his thumb which does not flex very much at all.There are plenty of examples in that video.

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