Vibrato

July 7, 2012 at 02:31 PM · Hello, I've been playing violin for two years and I've been trying to learn arm vibrato for like 9 months. I finally it the hang of it just two months ago but for some reason I can't detect a vibrato sound. I've recorded my playing and I just can't hear the vibrato too well. What could be wrong? Is my hand too tense?

Replies (70)

July 7, 2012 at 05:47 PM · Your vibrato is probably not wide.

Are you making sure the first knuckle (by your fingernail) is moving?

Try to control the speed and width and keep it constant, otherwise you'll end up with just a wobbling sound.

July 7, 2012 at 07:54 PM · My knuckle does move, but it's like restricted movement. For the past few days I've been practicing it slower and with a metronome so it's getting better.

July 7, 2012 at 08:11 PM · Make sure your hand is relaxed if you're having that problem, and that you aren't gripping too tightly.

It might also be that you're pushing down too hard if the movement of the knuckle is restricted. In that case, it would be something that you're doing, or maybe even your bridge is too high.

Lastly, I think it's most likely you just haven't developed enough flexibility in the knuckles yet. That's the likeliest scenario. Just keep practicing up in 4th position with the base of your thumb resting against the top of the violin, with a light hand, making sure the knuckle moves.

Practice with a metronome, starting at 60 with one movement per beat.

Then move up to one full oscillation per beat (back - forward), then 2 full movements per beat, then 3. then move onto the next one on the metronome. I think I heard that once you get 3 movements (full - back to forward) at 108 on the metronome is good.

Don't try to force it, and stay relaxed. It won't help if you become tense during the process. Practice until you can do 3 full back-forward movements at 60, then keep moving up, making sure that the motion is still relaxed and feels more or less natural before you try going faster.

Vibrato is hard to learn. Don't force it, stay relaxed, forcing it will make you tense which is a no-no in vibrato.

It can take even years to get it right. A lot of times it takes people 1-2 years to get a basic motion up to a good speed going.

July 7, 2012 at 09:38 PM · Stay relaxed. You might be doing a ton of arm movement, but it sounds like the finger is staying more planted.

I personally like to have my students practice sliding up and down the fingerboard. It is better to be loose, with a wide vibrato (which can be focused in) than a tight, shaky vibrato (which is usually from being too tight, and can cause serious problems).

I have read, and seen many people practice vibrato with wrist movement to a metronome. If you are practicing it that way, do it in 3rd position with the wrist against the instrument to act as a hinge. If you practice it in 1st position that can cause the wrist to bend, but the finger not move at all (That might be the issue)

Give it time. Vibrato is not a simple technique that can be mastered in a couple years of playing. It sounds like you are on the right track. Keep on practicing :)

July 7, 2012 at 10:13 PM · Our Concertmaster, Paul Huppert, teaches this, and a lot more.

His site is http://www.onlinelessonvideos.com

Good luck and practice ever so slowly.

July 8, 2012 at 02:08 PM · I second John's recommendation to learn wrist vibrato first as it involves less overall movement (fewer joints involved). The flexing of the terminal knuckle on the digit is a consequence of correct vibrato technique that often comes toward the end of learning wrist vibrato -- do not try to move that joint deliberately at the outset. Hand position must be correct initially, ask your teacher to check for this carefully. I also agree with previous post that it is good to work on vibrato in third position or so, with your 2nd or 3rd finger. My teacher assured me that once one finger learns how to do vibrato correctly, it will teach the others, which was exactly how it happened. Work slowly and try not to give yourself unreasonable expectations for progress. Good vibrato will evolve. Those exercises where you slide your finger back and forth on the string? Yes they do sound very dorky but the reason they are so broadly recommended is because they work. If your teacher is not involved in this process you are probably teaching yourself something that will have to be unlearned and retaught later by a good teacher. That is what happened to me.

July 9, 2012 at 09:38 AM · Just whip the tablecloth off very quickly and see if all the dishes stay in place. You loose 5 points for every broken one.

You can practise vib in a less messy way - just find a nice juicy place on your girlfriend/boyfriend's chest and vibrato away. Any red marks are par for the course, after all some of us have red blotches on out knecks and some are not even caused by love bites ... (wink)

July 10, 2012 at 02:17 PM · You will be asking about their underwear next John!! (wink)

July 10, 2012 at 02:22 PM · The shoulder rest is an undergarment of sorts.

July 10, 2012 at 02:55 PM · So a violinist/violist not using a shoulder rest is therefore playing naked? (Or provocatively?)

July 11, 2012 at 05:19 PM · I would guess that females are more self-critical than men, and hatt could be the cuase.

July 11, 2012 at 05:41 PM · John - now you have really got me interested!!

Surely that's all what life is about. Live dangerously!! (Kiss ...)

July 11, 2012 at 05:43 PM · "would guess that females are more self-critical than men, and hatt could be the cuase."

Interpreter needed ...

You assume a certain superiority that I have never been convinced by ...

July 11, 2012 at 06:15 PM · If the ice is thin, then scrape it off John!

Or use snow tyres (tires) and get a grip!! (winkles ...)

July 11, 2012 at 07:51 PM · Peter and John Why are you using this site as if it were facebook. This girl asked a legitimate question about her technique but I really don't see that many answers to her question. There's a lot of joking around and off the cuff comments but not much substance. I thought this is supposed to be a serious site for violinists and other string players, musicians and music apppreciators. It's okay to joke around a bit but it would be nice if you could stick to the topic of this thread. That being said, there are already many threads on the topic of vibrato on this site and you probably can find some useful advice on one of the other threads I have left several comments about vibrato technique on these threads as well. We have established that the most important part of vibrato is to activate the first joint. Whether you use a full arm vibrato or a wrist or even a finger vibrato (impulse) this is what you should be focusing on. I really don't believe that there is such a thing as just an arm vibrato or a wrist vibrato. Both the wrist and the arm should be engaged when producing a good vibrato. The left hand should not have any tension (already mentioned) which could be caused by clenching your thumb around the fingerboard, or too much downward pressure on the fingers. The fingers should be curved. Vibrato is the note and behind. When you play the note your finger is curved or the first joint is flexed. you then straighted or relax the first joint as you pull (or swing) back for the note behind. As you swing forward the finger (first joint) will bend or curve back to the original note. The ear will pick up the higher tone of the two movements as the correct pitch.

July 12, 2012 at 05:00 AM · Thank you Joel ; my thoughts exactly.

M

July 12, 2012 at 05:06 AM · Mandy : watch yourself in a full length mirror. Compare what you are doing with great violinists on youtube ; try to copy them. I was not really getting anywhere with vibrato until I started using the mirror. You can pick up your mistakes immediately when something does not 'look right'.

July 12, 2012 at 08:16 AM · Joel

"Peter and John Why are you using this site as if it were facebook. This girl asked a legitimate question about her technique but I really don't see that many answers to her question. There's a lot of joking around and off the cuff comments but not much substance. I thought this is supposed to be a serious site for violinists and other string players, musicians and music apppreciators. It's okay to joke around a bit but it would be nice if you could stick to the topic of this thread."

Yes, you do need and should have a sense of humour to post on any site. So it might help to get one.

As I've said before, it is not possible to get much useful advice about technical aspects of violin playing from a forum. For that you need a TEACHER. And preferably a good one who is highly experienced and who has a high degree of professional playing ability.

PERIOD.

P S You should establish your credentials before you give out so much technical advice. Your profile says nothing. You could be one of the tree witches from MacBeth for all we know. (wink)

Brian Kelly - I think the credentials aspect also applies to you, because you seem to be dishing out lots of advice as an adult beginner ...

July 12, 2012 at 09:26 AM · As nobody else had suggested it I thought I would mention the mirror as it can be quite useful to beginners. If somebody else has already posted that idea then please forgive me for repeating it.

Mandy : the violinlab videos on youtube are also very good. I think there are three of them there.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4XaScXkTks

July 12, 2012 at 09:36 AM · Brian - but you were also backing up Joel's previous post (quote - "my thoughts exactly") and we don't know his credentials. If you were only referring to the joking part then fine, but the majority of his post was about vibtrato technique.

You should be a bit clearer - your statement was ambigious.

As you probably know, I'm rather against adult beginners giving advice because although it may be well intentioned it can cause problems for people. There are plenty of walking examples of people who have mis-understood such advice and put themselves back by carrying on with bad habits learnt from well intentioned people who don't really know.

There is no substitute for a good teacher, unless you are not bothered about making any progress.

I would also be careful about reccommending such on line video lessons, because whilst I agree with some of the ideas on the link you made, there is also a lot that I find totally unnaceptable, like the way she suggests using tape on the fingerboard, on her actual website.

July 12, 2012 at 02:39 PM · One possible reason why there might be more vibrato questions coming from female students is because there are more female violin students. At least that is what I have seen in studios that I've been involved with.

I do tend to agree that v.com does not have to be the most serious place on earth (online forums seldom are), but on the other hand, extended rallies of silly jokes are not especially helpful, and if the person making the original post is a young person then I think it behooves us to keep it clean. Mandy's profile says that she's 15, so my guess is that she is not offended by the word "underwear."

I also think it's perfectly fine for one beginner to give another advice, especially along the lines of "Here is what has worked well for me." Everyone knows one should filter all technical advice through one's teacher.

July 12, 2012 at 04:24 PM · Peter,

Those who do know me are very familiar with my sense of humor but there is a time and place for everything. Treating this site as another stupid social network will cheapen what this site represents.

It is not necessary for YOU to know my credentials. Those who do know me know what kind of a violinist I am and they know about my understanding of developing a great sound, which includes the use of the bow as well as understanding vibrato and other variables. My credentials aren't important but my advice is if you wish to take it into consideration. I have been playing the violin for over 46 years. Why are you becoming so defensive over a comment that was meant to keep this site reputable. Not only did you attack me but you had to gang up on poor Brian just because he agreed with me. Not very mature.

July 12, 2012 at 05:32 PM · I have to say that is one of the least intelligent responses that I've ever heard.

But I supose I should have expected it. Goodbye, and best of luck with the next 46 years.

July 12, 2012 at 06:35 PM · I must say that v.com has since become a less friendly of a place to hang around as it used to be.

July 12, 2012 at 07:44 PM · Peter

I haven't the time or the inclination to even bother with you. In fact I doubt that I will even come back to look at your reponse. You call my response unintelligent because you interpret from it what you want. Like it says in your credentials you are a retired orchestra hack and that is all you will ever be. I can tell from you remarks that you are a complete musical moron with no understanding about the great art of playing the violin. It's sad when a simple thread about an innocent question about violin technique turns into a verbal brawl which I will not be a part of. Have a good time turning this site into facebook or some other simple minded social network site. You are not capable of anything else.

July 12, 2012 at 08:35 PM · It is not possible to respond to such an unfriendly and problematic post - you have simply proved that you have a problem. Get some help. You need it.

Best of luck and regards.

July 12, 2012 at 08:40 PM · "I must say that v.com has since become a less friendly of a place to hang around as it used to be."

That appears to be an understatement! I suppose many of us are driven away by the sort of posts we see from some, who obviously need help, but not of the sort of help we can give.

July 12, 2012 at 09:45 PM · Peter is right about one thing (hey, I found it!): empty profiles are not playing the game.

However, I think it is normal and beneficial to exchange ideas and experiences with one's peers, be they sincere amateurs, eager teenagers, seasoned professionals, or devoted teachers. Good teaching is vital, but many of us teach least well those aspects which we find the most obvious. I had a wonderful teacher, but I learned a lot from watching, and discussing with, my peers. Professionals are not always the most helpful, especially those who absorbed the "basics" very young, and who just show you how they do things, without taking into account individual differences. E.g. the posts on (shh!) shoulder rests!

I enjoy a good argument, as well as a very occasional digression into spotty schoolboy humour, but mainly I like the genuine exchange of ideas and experiences, as well as the rich insight into human strengths and weaknesses..

It is perfectly possible to dicuss vibrato on a forum, if the questions and suggestions are clear enough...

July 12, 2012 at 10:03 PM ·

July 12, 2012 at 11:05 PM · I haven't the faintest idea what you mean, Eric!

July 12, 2012 at 11:18 PM · Hey, that was quick!

In my case, for what it's worth, my index finger-nail is nearly facing me, and the fourth finger points over my left shoulder, diagonal to the strings; the base knuckles come out from the violin neck at bout 20 to 30 degrees, level with the fingerboard.

The vibrato motion, whatever its source, is along the string.

So much for my expert advice: hope it helps someone!!

July 13, 2012 at 03:13 AM · Here's a thought from a member with an empty profile (does anyone really care to read profile under most circumstances? or it's for stalkers who check people out often?):

Vibrato motion IMHO connected to the shape of your fingertip and how much meat/flesh you have. Ideally, meaty and rounded fingertip will experience natural vibrato learning, particularly when the fingernails are not getting in the way as easy.

July 13, 2012 at 04:41 AM · @Casey your comment seems quite reasonable. The shape of an individual's fingertip must have some influence on how he or she executes vibrato.

I'm not sure what anyone would gain from my profile. If you look me up you'll see I'm not a professional violinist. Does anyone really want to read my life story as a violin student?

July 13, 2012 at 08:27 AM · Paul, I find the opinions of non-professionals as interesting as any other: at least they stay genuinely inquisitive on violin matters.

July 13, 2012 at 08:48 AM · One would think that having big fat fingers would be an advantage in producing a good vibrato but I have seen female violinists with VERY small, narrow fingers who produce a great vibrato. Some of them even had quite long fingernails (for a violinist anyway). I was always amazed at this.

July 13, 2012 at 08:51 AM · Long nails? Well, that's because they play on the pads of their fingers, and not the tips.

And it works great even with short nails. ;)

July 13, 2012 at 01:06 PM · I learned to keep my nails very short when I started working on Bach S&P. I just cannot play the double stops in the D minor Sarabande with more than half a millimeter of visible "white part" of my fingernails. Another fingernail that I have to keep short is the thumb of my right hand because I hate the feeling of my thumbnail touching my bow. So to keep things very easy I just cut cut cut them all.

July 13, 2012 at 02:13 PM · Diagonalism?

If the"pinky" has to reach over, (like mine on the viola), the other fingers must open backwards (as for a larger hand playing flats); my index then lies almost on its side. I re-adjust my hand further back for a good index vibrato.

I have also recarved my chinrest, and adjusted my shoulder-rest (aargh!) so that my viola tilts 45° to the right. Result: a decent vibrato on all four strings!

July 13, 2012 at 05:29 PM · "Peter may like another diversion here so have a look at the utube video [ French Maid Automata ] Is the guy in the chair you or me? I`m only winding you up ."

John, I could give you the New York treatment often used by lunatics on this site, even on this very thread, but I am a bit sad that he/it has not got professional help. If he/it were a dog I would be very traumatised by the need to go to the vet and have him/it put down.

Who am I talking about? Well, no one, this is totally hypathetical. (Spelling?) Hyperthetical? Who bloody cares ...

July 13, 2012 at 05:45 PM · Anyway John, Adrian and others, I've been told that I am -

"a complete musical moron with no understanding about the great art of playing the violin."

So - even though this is said by someone who might well have escaped from - well, I'll leave you to guess where, I feel that I should refrain from making any remarks about fiddle playing, music or the arts. Maybe I should stick to humour! Oh no, he can't stomach that either!

So please advise me how to proceed - who do I call out?

The guys with the white van and the straight jackets?

July 14, 2012 at 01:05 AM · Chinese has a saying - focus on the subject, not the person.

If you sincerely want to give out advices, by all means do so. Unless you have some kind of agenda like to gain some kind of recognition or something.

As a side note, I'm also getting a little sick of the old school way of teaching - respect the old and seniors. The flaw of the lesson is, you only need to respect the old and seniors. ;-)

I also admire some of the seniors of mine have the capacity to swallow any silly remarks, smile, and move on. It really shows that they are really a person who been through lifes. That inspire me a lot.

July 14, 2012 at 06:25 AM · I also appreciate junors who can smile and move on when it's the seniors making the silly remarks!

By the way, I do read the profiles, but only to try to understand better the real person behind the posts.

By another way (ha ha) could I suggest a bit of self discipline and limit "funny" posts to, say, 5% of a person's input? (And arrogance to 1%?)

July 14, 2012 at 06:40 AM · I've always (I think now wrongly) attributed "prima donna" behaviour to singers, especially of the opera variety. Even though I've worked closely with lots of singers over the years, and have enjoyed their attitudes and humour.

I'm now beginning to think that the notion that some people have on this site about violinists being the biggest prima donnas is probably correct. Although I have noticed one or two over the years in professional orchestras, mainly I have found fiddlers to be fairly easy going, even members of the firsts!

An acquaintance of mine pointed out recently that certain nationalities have no sense of humour and only see humour as some sort of serious defect, and an insult to their intelligence. Of course the word "intelligence" has to be be questionable in this context.

I could write pages about vibrato and left hand technique connected with vibrato, but much if not all of this has been said in books by recognised and valued performers and teachers.

Certainly the previous post which mentions the area of the left hand finger pads has a good point. I too believe that people mostly use the tips far too much and not the meatier further back part of the pad. This affects sound and vibrato and the whole left hand position. But you can read all about this in books, for example one by Ruggerio Ricci called "Ricci on Glissando."

I'm sure many people have not read and, more importantly studied, these books (I find Aeur a bit lacking in this respect). I'm sure the prima donna I encountered earlier may not have since it might have made him more relaxed about fiddle playing. (I'm sure as a purist he hates the term "fiddle player" as well).

So maybe I should join a singers website ...

July 14, 2012 at 06:48 AM · "I also appreciate junors who can smile and move on when it's the seniors making the silly remarks!

By the way, I do read the profiles, but only to try to understand better the real person behind the posts.

By another way (ha ha) could I suggest a bit of self discipline and limit "funny" posts to, say, 5% of a person's input? (And arrogance to 1%?)"

Adrian, I think that would cut us both off in our prime!! And I'm not sure how you view me, as a senior or a junior! (wink).

Profiles are quite important in my view because it means one can accertain if a person is a beginner, an amateur, a young person, an experienced older person, a famous player, or even just a joker. People who give serious and detailed advice in posts, and then are found to be adult begginers from their profile, must then be taken with a grain of salt.

People who have no profile details and then make statements such as "people know me and what and who I am" and "It's for me to know and not you" (or words to that effect) are really just con artists in my opinion, and have no place on a forum.

Any way I've joined the singers website and I am learning about breath control, so no time to post any more here.

July 14, 2012 at 08:01 AM · Peter, some of the books you mention are on my shelves too; but some are out of print. My favourites are Flesch, Galamian, and Menuhin's extraordinary "Six Lessons".

I'm so terribly sorry to disagree, but beginner's advice is often closer to the problems than that of more seasoned players. (Idapsy!)

Prime? I suspect that we two (or three?) should count as "seniors" with "junior" minds!

British humour, which can joke about serious matters, can sometimes be totally misunderstood by, for example, the Americans and the French.

Hence the proposed 5% limit.

What is more sublime than music, or more absurd than musicians!

July 14, 2012 at 08:52 AM · "Im' so terribly sorry to disagree, but beginner's advice is often closer to the problems than that of more seasoned players. (Idapsy!)"

You aren't sorry at all!! (wink) I'm not sure what you mean by beginners advice? Sometimes they can hit the nail on the head but do they have the experience and expertise to back it up? The jury is still out for me on that one.

"Prime? I suspect that we two (or three?) should count as "seniors" with "junior" minds!"

Yes, I go with you on that one! (I see you as an elder statesman who can see around most problems). Flattery will get me everywhere ... (Who is the third, by the way?)

"British humour, which can joke about serious matters, can sometimes be totally misunderstood by, for example, the Americans and the French.

Hence the proposed 5% limit."

Why limit something that is unique and envied by our foreign friends? We could stay the same and they change?

"What is more sublime than muic, or more absurd than musicians!"

Yes, but what is the muic bit ...? (wink)

Keeping the subject serious and not humorous ... I'm not sure how useful Menuhin's advice may be. I haven't read those particular "six lessons" but seeing his videos about the left hnd I think the advice applies more to him than most people. So a slight question mark for me. But if it works for some that's fine.

Back to the sopranos, I'm having dificulty deciding between a blonde and a brunette. Any advice? I know, keep away from them ... (Don't worry, I would never marry a singer! They sing in the bath ...)

July 14, 2012 at 12:37 PM · John, are you reffering to Joel Arthur by any chance? You had better put on your missile proof armour if you are!! (He's the only person to mention arm/wrist vibratos as combined? or seperate? entities).

July 18, 2012 at 05:59 AM · With my students, I usually start with wide, loose, sliding mouvements (no bow!!) and "home in" on the details: basically, an arm vibrato with flexible wrist and fingers, and the base of he index always slightly away from the neck; all four fingers at once,(one on each string), which will sink gently into the strings as the wave motion diminishes.

It works for most of them!

P.S. Perhaps this is similar to what Joel has in mind? But rather than "activate" the first joint, I start by "passivating" it. It's jolly hard to describe these things in a few words..

July 19, 2012 at 08:39 AM · Hi John and Adrian

It looks like someone let JA off the leash for a few hours and he was able to travel the internet and cause havoc! In future his minders should be more careful.

But of course we must be sympathetic – it could be that he’s going through the menopause at present.

Adrian – you are being the diplomat as ever! You obviously have great tolerance which is probably why you are a gifted teacher. Good players don’t necessarily make good teachers – but sometimes it helps.

It must be quite idyllic to live in France – are you rural or in a big city? Of course there must be downsides too. Here in London there are lots of downsides, the obvious one being overcrowding, but on the plus side we have a lot of great music making as well as other arts.

Anyway, as I’m getting rather fed up with the odd nutter we get on here I will probably reduce my posts by quite a large percentage.

Best wishes

Peter

July 22, 2012 at 01:30 PM · But I bet you get very saw if you overdo the practising ...

July 22, 2012 at 01:40 PM · Before practising vibrato, do some exercise to increase left hand flexibility. Try straightening and bending

1. first join of every fingers

2. base join of fingers to palm

3. wrist

Then do some pulse exercise with every finger using different speed and rhythm. Hope this improves your vibrato.

July 22, 2012 at 08:09 PM · What may be a problem is The relationship of holding the neck of violin and your hand. You may be gripping the side of the violin too hard which makes it difficult for the joints in your fingers to move. Also make sure that when you are doing arm vibrato that you are NOT tensing up your entire arm. Make sure your arm is relaxed and that you aren't gripping onto the neck and you should be fine :)

December 27, 2013 at 11:49 AM · Hi all,I don't use a shoulder rest and balance the fiddle on my left hand and collarbone.any comments on how one can do a first finger vibrato and still hold the fiddle up with the left hand ?

December 27, 2013 at 01:03 PM · This is precisely why I returned to using a shoulder-rest..

Some maintain that they can get a decent index vibrato with base still in contact. I can't. And its a topic avoided by some very interesting videos on playing restless.

Some folks have a thumb shape that allows the base of the index to separate from the edge of the fingerboard, with no support from the shoulder.

When I played restless, I had to have the pad of the thumb under the neck of the violin, which is not without problems..

December 27, 2013 at 03:51 PM · Joel, I think you were wrong to criticize John Cadd - He was at least trying to put things right.

Peter Charles, may I remind you that you live in the UK and grooming under-16s on the internet is a criminal offence in this country?

Mandy, I have read some of your tweets; please understand that the right man is worth waiting for. You do not need to cheapen yourself by jumping into bed or even getting unduly intimate with a man who is not a good husband to you. I guess from your name that your grandparents might have a genuine Christian faith or might have died and thereby had it superseded. But whether this is so or not, a very good book is "The Triumph of John and Betty Stam", by Mrs Howard Taylor. As for good pop/folk/classical violinists who also sing, I was impressed by what I have seen of the Annie Moses Band.

Better say something about vibrato. When I played my new acquisition of Yehudi Mehuhin's recording of "Harold In Italy" to my late father, he pointed out to me that Menuhin's vibrato on the second note was slower than that on the first note and suggested that for the first note he had used wrist vibrato and for the second note he had used arm vibrato. It's worth knowing all forms of vibrato you can. Apparently, an even greater violinist, Huberman had a very varied vibrato and whichever form he used he could control the speed at will. But you're just beginning. What you could try is take a long pencil in your right hand, place a left hand finger on the pencil as though it were a string on a tailboard and try the various ways of rocking your finger, so you get a feel of how your finger can be rocked. Hope it rocks!

December 27, 2013 at 04:32 PM · But John (R.), the last two posts were actually about vibrato!

December 27, 2013 at 04:48 PM · Yes Adrian, but I thought it still needed to be said. Anyway, while you were posting your comment, I was editing mine to chip in a little about vibrato - I hope it's some help, because I've never actually taught vibrato.

December 30, 2013 at 11:33 AM · Yes John, and when we examine the finger shapes in slow motion as you suggest, we can also listen to the subtle changes in timbre. I strongly suspect thet we "hear" the crest of the "wave" (rather than its median level):

- as you seem to suggest, because we linger on it longer;

- but also because the crest has a brighter clearer tone.

We don't want our vibrato to sound like a Hammond organ, or an eletronic burglar alarm..

December 30, 2013 at 04:07 PM · John Rokos... Yes, for first paragraph. The second one was utterly weird though. This thread is just irritatingly strange and inappropriate in places...

December 30, 2013 at 09:32 PM · John, I had to get out my violin again, and check in a mirror. I think of arm vibrato as needing a staight wrist, which I see is not stiff: the hand movement adds to the forearm motion, rather than subtracting from it.

I higher positions, where my hand is lying flatter across the violin, the hand movement is more vertical than along the string, and so the effect is nearer to the so-called "finger" vibrato. In any case the notes are so near together up there that the along-the-string motion has to be very small not to sound like a badly rewound cassette!

According to some clever physics-of-music books in my posession, vibrato (in singers as well as violinists) varies pitch, volume and timbre together. Pitch only will sound like a siren, volume only, like a Hammond tremolo. I have the impression that the volume tremolo is always accompanied by timbre vibrato.

December 31, 2013 at 11:47 PM · Claire, I'm a bit confused as to what you are referring to as my second paragraph. As I've written it, the first two paragraphs are each a sentence long. I think it's probably the third paragraph that you object to. But did you read any of the young lady's tweets? Peter Charles's remarks were crude repetitions of things she and others of today's teens get bombarded with on all sides these days, and they start to entertain the idea of doing things that will only blight their lives in the long run if practised prematurely.

January 1, 2014 at 03:33 AM · Don't drink and post. Or maybe don't be a pathetic old pervert and post. Definitely disregard!

January 1, 2014 at 10:38 AM · It's a pity, because the recent posts were all about vibrato!

Happy 2014, everyone..

January 2, 2014 at 01:26 AM · I don't think I'm any more of a pervert than most of your ancestors, Laurie, but if I can fail to spot on violinist.com a reference to, and partial review of a translation made by my late mother (at my late father's behest, of course) of a book on vibrato, http://www.violinist.com/discussion/response.cfm?ID=25137, I MUST be getting old.

January 2, 2014 at 08:57 AM · JR, I don't think the "pathetic old pervert" referred to you! I read Werner Hauck's book (Vibrato on the violin, trans. Dr.Kitty Rokos, ed. Bosworth) often, and I am still learning...

Vibrato and percieved pitch? I have other references on psycho-acoustics that suggest that we "believe" the crest of the wave. At 35yrs I knew, at 65 I only suspect, that the "wave" goes slghtly over the percieved note, but mainly under, hence the "two-note" vibrato.

In some singers, with a very quick vibrato, I seem to hear the opposite: the basic note, alternating with a slightly softer higher one. To my ears, this has a "bleating" effect, and sounds a little sharp. But then I am getting old!!

January 2, 2014 at 09:37 AM · Thank you, Adrian, but Laurie's post directly followed mine.

Unless, of course, she was humorously (extremely so) referring to herself ... (It was the small hours of New Year's Day, after all, and she could have been SLIGHTLY short of stone cold sober herself) and there I don't know about the "old" (or the "pathetic" or the "pervert", for that matter).

Bosworth went out of business some time ago, so I am surprised and gratified to find some of our family's work still around.

January 3, 2014 at 01:37 AM · I just this week finally "got" arm vibrato after trying for 6 months. I could just not stop squeezing the neck, no matter how hard I tried. The past two months, I praticed for an hour daily, just experimenting and trying to figure out what worked and what didn't. My teacher had me try it with the thumb off the neck of the violin and that helped to experience the freedom and relaxed feeling that not squeezing the thumb produces. What finally did the trick though was the blog Viva Vibrato on this site. What is crucial is not to use any finger muscle to rock the finger. The arm movement moves the knuckle. It feels strange at first, like someone else is moving the knuckle. After you get the hang of it, it should feel almost effortless. Try the shifting exercises described in the blog- it really helps.

January 3, 2014 at 03:28 AM · John, I wasn't referring to you, just read the rest of everything above! (Sorry it was right after your post!)

January 3, 2014 at 11:56 AM · Thanks Laurie (I'm sure you were sober when you posted. I was even DRY that night, but I confess I had TWO glasses of red last night!) - Public standards in my country are suffering an enormous onslaught (I get the impression this may be true of yours as well), and there are people with power here who WOULD call my stance perverted.

Dawn, I bet you're glad you didn't keep on squeezing your TEACHER'S neck!

January 5, 2014 at 01:29 PM · Anyway, Mandy was asking for help with vibrato, not with her love-life!

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