Pieces for vibrato work?

December 19, 2013 at 03:26 PM · My teacher wants me to do a couple of short lyrical pieces to work on vibrato and tone production (specifically the production of a more soloistic, rich, dense tone).

He wants them to be pieces that don't present any technical difficulties -- so there are zero distractions from anything other than sound. His suggestions were the Kreisler/Mendelssohn Song Without Words, and the Kreisler/Rimsky-Korsakov Hymn to the Sun, but more/others would be good, too.

I was pondering:

- Shostakovich: Romance from the Gadfly

- Tchaikovsky: Serenade Melancolique

- Williams: Three Pieces from Schindler's List

- Achron: Hebrew Melody

- Kreisler/Rimsky-Korsakov: Chanson Arabe

Any suggestions, or thoughts on the above?

Replies (26)

December 19, 2013 at 06:17 PM · the slow mvmt from the Dvorak Sonatina

Tchaikovsky's Andante Cantabile

Bach's Arioso

December 19, 2013 at 09:27 PM · Greetings,

I think the slow movement of Wieniawaski two is perfect for this.Or short works by Sarasate such as playera or Adios Montanos Mios.

However, in some ways I think it is much to do with ways of thinking as much as choice of piece. the thing I learnt from Simon Fischers work more than anything else is that

1) The fastest way to develop maximum sound is to practice the basic tone exercises he suggests everyday.

2) Follow this up by applying those exercises to whatever you are studying.

I suspect that a lot of players miss out this second step or rather don't do it enough. For example , the pressure exercise found in both Basics , Practice and the Violin Lesson is applied in the opening fast section of Mozart five where one pulses the notes to maximize tone. Now one may not feel that Mozart is the way to develop a huge romantic sound but there is no more to be got from your instrument than this exercise provides so the improvement there immediately has a dramatic effect on richness of tone throughout the repertoire.

In the same way I practice Unaccompanied Bach fast movements maximizing the tone on key notes by repeating them many times and then playing straight and the increase in tone throughout the repertoire is enormous.

But if one does not feel satisfied that this is rich enough the other example he tends to use is the slow movement of the Bruch which I also recoomend along with Wieniawski.

Also try Meditation by Glazunov. If you can play that with the maximum range of tonal expression and vibrato palette you are a true artist.



December 19, 2013 at 09:42 PM · What he specifically does not want me to produce is a Mozart tone. It's the sound that I naturally want to gravitate towards -- a more transparent sound with more "air" in it, where volume tends to be produced by using more bow -- rather than the denser, weightier sound that he wants to encourage. A desired soloistic sound rather than an orchestral sound, as he puts it.

(Because this is also about richness of vibrato, neither Baroque or Classical-era is probably appropriate anyway.)

The Glazunov Meditation is a good suggestion, but I just did the concerto... I'm trying to find short works as opposed to another concerto movement (at the moment I'm learning Prokofiev 2).

December 19, 2013 at 10:28 PM · It seems to me doing shorter romantic rep. along with a romantic concerto is redundant. Why not simply work on the slow movement/slower passages of the concerto? Besides the exercises Buri mentioned, one of the best ways to develop that soloistic sound is to focus on connecting between two notes, whether they're at either end of a shift, bow change, or across strings. E.g. shifting with Sevcik Op8, use full vibrato before the shift and immediately upon arrival of the target note, connecting through the shift with bow density. Also Kreutzer 1 for shifts but also for high positions on all strings. Arpeggios and any arpeggio etude can be used for shifting with full sound and vibrato. Applying decresc./cresc. in various ways, especially through bow changes can help with connecting sound, while paying attention to continuous vibrato through the bow change. Any string cross exercise or etude (K7, K8 slower and with slurs) can be used to focus on maintaining density and vibrato across strings. All of this can be adapted to the needs of your current rep. I think this is a more efficient approach especially if you're pressed for time. Other than that, you only have double stops to work on, which is a whole other can of worms.

P.S. Can't remember if the Fisher material covers this, but working on segments of the bow with even and equal sound at all segments/parts of the bow in staccato and parlando is the basis for maintaining density of sound (I think that's a Galamian/DeLay thing and so must be in Fisher.)

December 19, 2013 at 11:11 PM · Greetings,

yes, that's what I wanted to say.....;)

My point about the Mozart is not actually that simple. if one practices the opening in this way Then one is using the maximum possible weight or depth of sound for an objectively measurable bow speed on the best possible so

und point. There is no difference between this sound and the same thing in the Brahms concerto although whether or not one would want to apply the vibrato in ther same way is up to you.... But one is taking things to the limit of what is possible before scaling back to a more refined Mozrtian sound. I would rather work this way than limit myself right of the bat by telling myself I need to be more airy and light . Of course I do but exploring all the ranges of sound and limits is very helpfully in both musical and technical growth.

I would also add an exercise that my teacher at RCM said was a favorite of Sammons which one applies to double stops. Playing a long sustained note and plucking the lower strings with the bow for short notes. Same as the Movement from the bach a minor sonatas Also helpful when you play the sibelius.



December 20, 2013 at 02:09 AM · I'm with Buri. I don't think there's really any difference in tone production between Mozart and Brahms. It's a matter of degree and application (how to taper; how you connect notes). Producing a soloistic sound has to do with pushing the envelope of your ability and of your instruments. If I were in your shoes I might rather (re)do a classical concerto to develop a soloistic sound along with a shorter romantic work. Requires more control. Then go back to the Prokofiev.

Some skills to work on: placing big strokes from 'beyond'; follow-through motions; grand detache strokes; expanding detache by using Galamian's pumping motion; colle; "pinch and ride" the string, a favourite of Shumsky's; maintaining sound point at the bridge, especially for nose bleed range, but also on other strings (if your fiddle's not used to this you can train it to take this kind of pressure to an extent--but ultimately if the fiddle can't handle it, it's not a solo instrument); etc.

December 20, 2013 at 03:27 AM · Mazas etudes. There are a few in books 1 & 2 that are perfect for this, and nice pieces on their own.

December 20, 2013 at 04:10 AM · Benda "Grave"

Larghetto from Handel D Major Sonata

Romance from Weiniawski 2nd, Buri suggested too.

Veracini Largo

December 21, 2013 at 05:43 PM · Thanks again. My teacher likes what I think of as a kind of machine-gun approach to addressing a point -- covering it in multiple pieces of repertoire, etudes, and exercises, all at once. I find this to be a very useful approach -- it adds variety to practicing, as well as multiple angles of attack where if one thing doesn't click in my brain, often something else will.

In a second conversation with my teacher, he decided that he wanted to avoid works that are "atmospheric" -- instead, to try to something that feels vocal and operatic. He suggested the Schubert Ave Maria as the first thing, but we didn't have time to discuss more.

The other operatic-ish things I can think of, I've played before (Massenet's Meditation from Thais, the Rachmaninoff Vocalise, the Gluck/Kreisler Melodie). Any more thoughts along these lines?

December 21, 2013 at 05:56 PM · Legende by Wieniawski

December 24, 2013 at 01:56 AM · Elgar's various chansons?

December 24, 2013 at 03:52 AM · Spiegel im Spiegel by Arvo Part

December 30, 2013 at 03:11 AM · I had never heard either the Chansons or the Part work before. Thanks!

January 2, 2014 at 03:47 PM · Happy new year and hello to all! New to this forum.

I echo Mazas. These are short, manageable pieces that are great for developing sound production. There is ample opportunity to work at controlling your vibrato as well.

Elgar's Salut d'amour, Meditation from Thais, Paganini's Cantabile, and Mascagni's Intermezzo are some short pieces that come to mind.

January 2, 2014 at 06:24 PM · How about Dvorak's op. 11 Romance?

January 2, 2014 at 07:19 PM · Even less cognitive, Dvorak 4 romantic pieces op75 - all relatively short and real pearls. They are like encore pieces that require a different type of vibrato at different moments if you can do it.

January 2, 2014 at 07:56 PM · Greetings,

Mazas? Er, do bear in mind that Lydia has just done a very creditable performance of the Glazunov concerto with an orchestra.

One piece that does spring to mind that really addresses both the bowing and vibrato thing in quite distinct sections is the -very- unjustly neglected Suk Appasionato. Check out the Ginette Neveu recording.



January 2, 2014 at 09:48 PM · I'd think the Glazunov itself would be a great vibrato demo piece! Maybe I'm wrong, but I put plenty of schmaltz into it -- especially the first few measures.

January 3, 2014 at 12:02 AM · This may be missing the point, but I'm curious as to why it wouldn't be most effective to start the vibrato work on scales and arpeggios. I would think that isolating it without distractions from other technical aspects would be best, whereupon you can bring in bowings and rhythms, and then into etudes or pieces as necessary. Is there some disconnect between the vibrato in scales and pieces that necessitates doing the bulk of the work in the pieces themselves?

Whoops, looks like this was covered earlier. I guess I'm just curious about the idea of playing a big romantic concerto for the purpose of developing the big romantic sound. Is it the benefit of having more context?

January 3, 2014 at 12:05 AM · Mozart concerti, because you're not going to be satisfied just producing a decent vibrato. You're going to need to vary the sound, including the vibrato, to fit the nuances of the music. It's the case with slow movements as well.

January 3, 2014 at 01:52 AM · I think the "work on technique in the context of a piece" is intended to accomplish an end of getting a technical gain while also building repertoire. I have a fairly limited amount of time to practice, so density is useful. (Averaged over the course of a week, it's usually about 40 minutes a day. Into that time, I generally cram a concerto, a short work or two, and two etudes.)

I do have isolated vibrato exercises to do as well, since my teacher thought that the most useful approach might be starting from scratch, with the same sort of exercises used for students learning vibrato for the first time.

Changing a fundamental like vibrato is very difficult. I have a relatively fast and narrow vibrato. My teacher's belief is that I can re-develop a vibrato that defaults to something slower and wider, and that in high positions, I need to actually physically produce a different kind of vibrato (which I can do, but it's not second nature). The thing about vibrato is that it's one of those things that simply becomes part of how you play. I don't really think consciously about vibrating on a normal basis -- like most experienced players, it's simply become an instinct, another tool in the tone-colors box, much like I don't normally have to think about, say, the sounding point / bow speed / weight combination to get a certain kind of sound. Doing the vibrato exercises has occasionally allowed me to consciously intrude into my own playing to insert a different type of vibrato at a place, but I need to alter the default.

To try to encourage me to raise the level of my arm (I use a Russian-style hold but my bow arm is more Galamian-esque, and ideally I should shift my approach to one appropriate to the hold), we've done a whole bunch of things previously (the Paganini "Moses", the second Ysaye sonata, etudes emphasizing triple-stopping and string-crossings, and so forth). But I essentially need to build a new habit, forcefully breaking the previous one. Very difficult -- I can explicitly remember, and/or practice it into a section of a work, but I need to make it second nature.

Hopefully that context is useful.

January 3, 2014 at 02:35 AM · That makes sense.

I understand the difficulty of changing ingrained habits. I used to have what one might generously call an arm vibrato, but have been learning a wrist vibrato from scratch. My bias is to say that everything builds off of scales, just because they blew my mind when I actually started practicing them. I know for myself, I keep having to go back to the basic motion so that I can focus on that, so I do it mostly in scales, because I can relax more easily than in a piece. I guess the idea is that I practice it completely intentionally, and it will be there when I need it in the piece, coming at that point from more of the intuitive level that you were describing. I could see the value of choosing certain passages in pieces and getting a little more bang for your buck. But anyway, I think I've derailed the discussion enough

January 3, 2014 at 04:10 AM · The vibrato exercise I have is for use with scales, and it's useful for getting the correct feel of the motion, but not for building the habit of using it in context. ;-)

January 3, 2014 at 07:20 PM · How about Paganini's Cantabile or Non piĆ¹ mesta? They are quite operatic. Ning Feng has so beautifully recorded these pieces that I find really inspiring:


Emil also made a wonderful recording of Paganini, as you may already know.

Lydia, I enjoy listening to your performance and reading your comments very much. Brava!

January 5, 2014 at 01:08 AM · How about the Kodaly Adagio?

January 5, 2014 at 03:38 AM · How about Hubay Nocturne in a minor?


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