Hilary Hahn’s vibrato
How does this lady make it happen? Her hand *barely* moves, yet she produces this Heifetz-like vibrato. If my hand moves like hers it makes almost no audible vibration.
Her violin is a big component in that.
She's definitely impressive. I'm still wondering how she remembers all those notes. I don't remember ever seeing her use sheet music. She's not human.
No solist uses sheetmusic. If you trained a concert for 50+ hours its burned into her head.
"It's the finger, stupid!" Seriously, the most important moving part in a vibrato is the final segment of the finger, so that the fingertip rolls back and forth producing the vibrato effect. How you get that final segment to move is the question. In theory you could keep everything stiff and make a huge movement from the arm. But that would disturb a lot of other aspects of violin playing, shake your violin, impede playing fast, etc. In contrast, Ms Hahn has a very flexible final joint and strongly developed left hand so basically she just needs to initiate the movement from the hand or even from the finger itself, hence the little visible movement, but it's the local movement of the final segment of the finger that is all that counts. So, Christopher, work on getting that final joint flexible, see the vibrato section of "Basics" by Simon Fischer, and develop your left hand correctly, again see Basics.
Her intonation gives me chills. I love her! She has always been my favourite violinist. in fact, she is my laptop wallpaper right now haha! i hope to meet her one day but she never seems to have any concerts in Australia! I'm just an innocent 14 year old who wants to meet her idol :(
"make a huge movement from the arm. But that would disturb a lot of other aspects of violin playing, shake your violin,"
It is, every violinist should have different types of vibrato available and choose depending on the situation.
hi Han, like Marc already replied, sure it is, sorry if I gave this impression it was not my intention to start a debate on arm vs wrist vibrato as there have been many threads on this already and, as often mentioned there, it is probably not a useful dichotomy anyway.
I agree, thats also what I ment when I wrote "just enough movement). A lot of movement gets lost for many players.
Have you guys noticed that whenever Hahn does vibrato with her 4th finger, she uses her third finger for support? I am wondering how she still maintains her vibrato with the third finger that supports, but without it slowing her down. Is it her instrument?
She's doing finger vibrato. It has little to do with the instrument.
Hahn routinely plays her solo recitals from sheet music. But she normally plays concertos from memory. In any given season, she only does a handful of concertos, so each of those works is finely burnished and always memorized (I believe even the contemporary concertos are memorized).
Having had my attention drawn to her vibrato I find I can't ignore it! It's admittedly quite a few years since she recorded the Elgar concerto so maybe she's moderated the constant throbbing by now. And I will say she made the Schoenberg concerto listenable for me.
I don't think HH's vibrato is the result of her violin. It's about efficiency. That is a hallmark of her playing. She has figured out how to get maximum finger-tip roll with a minimum amount of effort. That was probably a very arduous process even for her. Once she found it, she worked into her playing until it became natural. It's the same with every other aspect of her playing. She makes it look effortless but you can be sure that there was tremendous effort in developing the necessary technique.
I think Erik Williams is correct. For vibrato to be effective in coloring tone and increasing the apparent loudness it must engage appropriate overtones of the violin's upper octave* that surround the overtone of the fundamental tone. Fine violins have these overtones clustered more closely than lesser violins, thus smaller vibrato finger motion will generate the desired result on these fine violins.
This sent me off to watch videos of Hilary practicing. I loved her 100 days project. (The internet and its rabbit holes!) One thing that was clear watching her practice was her extreme level of detail orientation. The excellence, as others have pointed out, is not an accident. Even something as simple as the Gigue from the E major partita requires care and precision–she doesn't just automatically play it perfectly. She's been working on Dvorak this season, Lydia.
Yeah, with sonatas it's customary to use music (or both players memorise - one or the other).
Hilary Hahn herself discussed this topic - music or not - in a v.com interview a few years back:
That makes me wonder what it would be like to play without my glasses.
I saw her relatively recently in a live performance where she did appear to actively use her sheet music. The pages were getting blown by the air-conditioning system in the hall, and she did repeatedly have to smack them back into the place, at one point in time sharing a laugh with the audience at the paper behavior. I suspect that if she weren't actually using the music, she wouldn't have bothered with that distraction.
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