Vibrato with no apparent hand movement

May 8, 2014 at 02:06 PM · Under this youtube video of Lisa Batiashvili, a couple of comments point out that at 55 sec, you can hear vibrato but there is no hand movement. They must have been watching closely, fullscreen. I checked and noted the same. Can anyone explain?


May 8, 2014 at 03:10 PM · Audio splicing from an other concert. It is quite common.

May 8, 2014 at 06:05 PM · The splicing of multiple performances into one is called "comping", short for compilation. Digital Audio Workstations makes this a relatively easy task using a technique called crossfading to splice in a better sounding bit from a different performance.

I am not convinced that is what happened here. High up on the E string, it is possible for the bow to go into temporary sympathetic vibration and give a noticeable vibrato effect. This is because it takes just very small changes in position and pressure to create a detectable pitch change in this region of the string.

I think she was just coloring the note with a bow movement and briefly stumbled upon one of these modes or maybe even did it deliberately. It is noticeable but brief and subtle.

May 8, 2014 at 06:46 PM · Just a tangential side note: I think our obsession with vibrato is just a bit much... Continuous vibrato did not exist for a long time, and we don't hear continuous vibrato from singers. Maybe we should vibrate a little less?

Just a thought.

May 8, 2014 at 07:16 PM · I agree with Mark, especially when it's not a nice one.

May 8, 2014 at 08:46 PM · "...I think our obsession with vibrato is just a bit much... Continuous vibrato did not exist for a long time, and we don't hear continuous vibrato from singers. Maybe we should vibrate a little less?"

It's a tricky thing--people who use too little vibrato just sound like they're not vibrating, or just studentish.

In the case of the video, it's obvious that she us using the highly effective and efficient (though practically invisible) "fingerprint" vibrato. The Soviets spent billions on a program to develop this and other types of vibrati (such as the "capillary" or "bone marrow" types) as way to mitigate their losing of the race to the moon.

May 8, 2014 at 11:54 PM · It's definitely spliced audio. There are several moments in the 10 minute clip where the shifting/vibrato do not match what's happening on the fingerboard.

Puzzling, because Lisa's one of the fastidiously clean violinists out need for splicing.

Vibrato on every note? Name one singer who does that effectively. In my opinion, there's nothing wrong with clean, non-vibrato transitional notes. Just my .02.

May 8, 2014 at 11:55 PM · Thanks for the chuckle Scott.

Sure, the youtube has to be spliced. But the whole thread highlights a problem with music today -- picking out a tiny flaw seems to be the way we listen. If you like HH's performance better for general, across-the-board reasons, that's one thing. But "hey, that note was flat at 2:33" ... seems kind of cheap.

I enjoy listening to ASM's vibrato because she has such incredible control and range in both speed and depth AND she uses "no-vibrato" very effectively. I compared her recording of the Franck Sonata to Arthur Grumiaux and Isaac Stern, and ASM's is just so much more textured and colorful. It's on her Berlin Recital CD, listen especially to the 3rd mvt.

May 9, 2014 at 12:52 AM · I'm hardly an audio expert, but I think that was indeed a 'clomping' thing. A certain kind of manipulation with the bow - something that Lucien Capet, Galamian's teacher, advocated - can produce a certain kind of 'vibrato' - but not THAT sound, the rich, sensuous, even vibrato that LB was using all along in that passage.

I think that both ladies turned out excellent performances. But though I've always been a great admirer of HH, I was somehow more emotionally moved by LB's playing in this movement.

I think that near continuous vibrato - if varied well - makes sense, with occasional departures made as a result of a musical decision, rather than a gratuitous lapse.

There have always been people and periods where more and less vibrato was used or advocated, including the early 20th century, with people like Arnold Rosé, CM of the Vienna Phil. advoacting it only on some notes. But there is written reference to vibrato on string instruments going back to the 1500's. And what about this fellow who wrote "performers there are who tremble consistently on each note, as though they had the palsy" - a comment on current overdone vibrato practice? Nope! That was written by Leopold Mozart in his treatise on violin playing in 1756 - the year his soon to be famous son, Wolfgang was born! He didn't like it, but if it didn't occur often , he would have had no reason to comment on it.

May 9, 2014 at 02:06 AM · Coughing in the audience perhaps ?

May 9, 2014 at 02:08 AM · The reason for splicing isn't necessarily because she made a mistake. It might be the orchestra, the audio guys or the audience. Or whatever.

And regarding vibrato like a singer. Why shouldn't we do vibrato like a piano when playing Beeethoven or Brahms? Cause we don't play the piano.

Well, I don't sing, I play the violin.

And while I can be inspired with certain qualities of singing, like frasing or articulation, I definitly dont take after their limited range, few tone colours (no harmonics, col legno or pizzicato or whatever), shortess of breath, the monophony or the lack of speed.

How would you play the second movment of that Prokofiev like a singer?

Let the violin live on it's own two (?) legs. It is a wonderful instrument in it's own right.

May 9, 2014 at 10:29 AM · I don't think it has to do with any tricks or splicing. At certain points, I believe the video frame rate exactly matches her vibrato speed.

As we all know, video is a compilation of many "still" images put together to make it look like a moving image. Her vibrato is there, but we just cannot see it because the video is showing one image every time her hand happens to be in the same place during the vibrato movement.

In other words, the camera is just not fast enough to see her vibrato in some places. Or to be more accurate, it is probably the fault of the youtube video which has a much lower frame rate than the original video.

May 9, 2014 at 10:35 AM · BTW, the video aliasing affect that I describe above is the same thing that causes helicopter rotors to stand still or wagon wheels to spin backwards when watching movies.

May 9, 2014 at 01:15 PM · For the hand to stand still it have to move between 24 and 30 times per second. That means between 4-5 times faster than Perlman if I remember correctly, so that is unlikely.

May 9, 2014 at 02:00 PM · Nate, I also learned from my first violin teacher that "vibrato is part of your tone" and you do it all the time. He was a great violinist. I think he studied with Mischa Elman. That would definitely put him in the motorized-vibrato school.

Definitely vibrato is part of the design of the violin, though. It's the best reason not to have frets.

Like you say I think there is a range of preferences and tastes on this subject, which is probably good for our instrument and for music generally.

May 9, 2014 at 03:01 PM · A lot of close up video shots were probably done after the concert(play the live performance at a high volume to sync the instruments). You can't have video cameras everywhere during a performance like this. Look at these camera angles e.g. 2:43. Walking amongst the cellos and underneath would take some work.

Also punching in an audio clip with a whole orchestra or just the violin in a live performance would be impossible. IMO, it would be very noticeable.

May 9, 2014 at 09:51 PM · MIND VIBRATO!

May 10, 2014 at 09:45 AM · Re video aliasing at 24-30 vibs/sec. I don't know for certain whether it is possible to intentionally vibrate the hand at that rate, other than as a result of clinical tremors which are less than a rare 20Hz and have a median in the 7-9Hz range (interestingly coincident with the range of most string vibratos); but I'm inclined to think not. Considering further the idea of vibrato at 24-30Hz there would be, in theory, an interesting consequence in that 24-30Hz is, as a sound, within the human hearing range, and such a vibrato in hand contact with the violin would surely generate sympathetic audible vibrations in the the instrument and strings. Such a vibrato rate would be too fast for the eye and brain to process and would appear to the human observer as an indistinct blurred movement.

There is another theoretical possibility if video aliasing is involved, and it is that it could conceivably occur if the performer's vibrato rate is an exact submultiple of the video frame rate (whatever that is on YT videos - it may even vary). If this were possible in actuality I think it would be frequent enough to have been noticed on many previous occasions.

Temporary sympathetic vibration of the bow causing a vibrato - I cannot see anything in the video to suggest that happening. If it were deliberately induced, then why, when a normal hand vibrato would suffice?

May 10, 2014 at 10:42 AM · I just watched it again several times, especially keeping Smiley's explanation in mind, which seemed very plausible to me. But then I thought to myself - 'if the video temporarily got behind or out of phase with her left hand movement, why would it continue to capture her bow movement in a normal way?'

But it didn't!

I kept repeating that spot but concentrated on her bow movement, and I noticed something very interesting. At the moment that her left hand appears to stop vibrating, her otherwise very smoothly moving bow seems to jerk a bit back and forth between the bridge and fingerboard. Now it's possible for something like that to happen for a moment to even a great player, but it just looks artificial and out of phase. It's only for a brief moment, but take a look and see whether you notice the same thing.

Whether this bespeaks 'clopmping' or 'aliasing', I don't know. But it's clearly some kind of technological glitch. Since LB bears a slight resemblance to Jennifer Garner, who starred in the tv show, "Alias", that will be my vote!

May 10, 2014 at 11:37 AM · "For the hand to stand still it have to move between 24 and 30 times per second. That means between 4-5 times faster than Perlman if I remember correctly, so that is unlikely. "

Depending on how the video was shot and how it was uploaded, the frame rate could be as low as 16 frames per second -- even less if you have a slow internet connection.

I did a rough calculation and a moderately fast vibrato could easily match a frame rate of 16 frames per second. Remember that the vibrato movement involves the hand moving forward then backward, so for one vibrato pulse, the hand will be at the same place twice; once going forward and once again going backward.

If you set he metronome at 120, that is 2 beats per second. If you vibrate 4 times per beat (e.g., 1/16 notes at 120), then you would get 8 vibrations per second. For each vibration, the hand is at the same place twice, therefore, the hand is in the same place 16 times per second. If the frame rate was 16 frames per second, the vibrato would be invisible.

May 10, 2014 at 01:37 PM · Smiley - Listen to the vibrato. How many oscillations do you hear? It is not that many.

And if you look at her fingers, she is slowely moving her pinky up in preparations for the next note, but when she vibrates it goes all over.

May 10, 2014 at 02:11 PM · Unfortunately, in the relevant part of the video there is nothing moving in the background (only a couple of non-playing cellists) that could help decide whether there has been a technical glitch or post-dubbing.

May 10, 2014 at 05:33 PM · The mystery deepens. Prompted by the idea that different takes might be spliced together (I'm a little saddened to learn that classical music suffers from this), I watched for a minute to see if I could spot a lock of hair in the wrong place or something. Then I spotted it.

In the top left corner of the conductors table, there is an uneven dark shaped thing that I will call the "blob." It appears and disappears according to the following timetable:

0:16 blob

0:44 no blob

1:00 no blob (the vibrato scene)

1:19 blob returns!

2:25 no blob (gone in 60 seconds!)

3:36 blob returns!

3:50 no blob!

What is the blob? Why does it appear and disappear?

May 10, 2014 at 06:08 PM · Do you mean the same "blob" that appears from time to time on the violin in the position where the mute normally is if not being employed? :)

May 10, 2014 at 07:54 PM · The conspiracy theories continue, LOL. You guys do realize that there are two video recordings(done at different angles and times), right, and only one audio live recording. There are a lot of clues e.g. hair is perfect in one shot, less perfect in others (you can tell that the post video was done in high humidity), the missing blob, and the missing mute, quick violist head turns 2:08 LOL etc... I am sure there are many more clues. I am sure this is done all the time, as long as the audio is done in one take, there is no loss.

May 10, 2014 at 07:57 PM · Is there anyone here with access to a top-of-the-range audio editor and the expertise to examine the audio track of the video in the vicinity of the section at 1' with a view to determining if it was spliced in from another take? A different take, for instance, could show subtly different reverbs, noise levels, and frequency responses.

May 10, 2014 at 08:00 PM · Yes I now notice that "blob" on the upper left corner of the conductor's stand appearing and disappearing! It looks a little like a black ink spot and also a bit like a guitar pick. Or was it a piece of chewing tobacco?

Anybody notice my bow anomaly at the moment of the invisible vibrato? It may take a few tries to see it because we need to fix on her left hand to make sure that we have the right spot and it's then hard to very quickly shift focus to her bow. But it's like a little visual hiccup.

Probably the simplest solution is that it's a parallel universe occasionally impinging on this one. ;-D

May 10, 2014 at 08:39 PM · I think it was aliens.

May 10, 2014 at 08:53 PM · Insert grotesque demise and cue the x-files theme.

May 10, 2014 at 09:15 PM · Good catch Michael and Nigel. The blob is her mute. She must have removed it from her violin and set it on the conductor's stand for one take. When the mute is on her violin, the blob is gone and when the blob is there, she has no mute on her violin.

I am now convinced that splicing was involved since we know for sure there was more than one take in creating this video, so my aliasing theory is starting to seem less plausible.

May 10, 2014 at 09:37 PM · I'm going with chewing tobacco. You can see the male violinist pop it into his mouth at 2:45 and then look around to make sure no one saw him.

May 10, 2014 at 10:34 PM · Next weekend vote: How many concertmasters dip?

May 10, 2014 at 11:21 PM · "Anybody notice my bow anomaly at the moment of the invisible vibrato?"

Yes, during the up bow, she is just below the middle of the bow, then suddenly, jumps to the frog -- looks like a splice was done at that moment.

May 11, 2014 at 02:15 AM · Good catch with the mute!

May 11, 2014 at 05:58 AM · so we are saying static passionate vibrato is caused by mutation?


May 11, 2014 at 08:14 AM · It's simple - it's the finished video editing of a dress rehearsal and live performance. The 'blob' is her mute which, like others have pointed out, is on her violin in one video and off her violin in another.

My guess is that the mute is off during dress rehearsal and on during live performance.

May 11, 2014 at 09:33 AM · One thing I will now reveal to all you folks is this: I tried to warn Lisa not to perform at the Bermuda Triangle's Musik Ver-Vortex. But would she listen to me? I once gave a recital there and when I came home and opened my case, instead of my violin, I found a small hurdy-gurdy!

May 12, 2014 at 06:12 PM · what do you think about this one?!

May 13, 2014 at 11:48 AM · "Heifetz plays Bruch's Scottish Fantasy"

Evidently, this was an occasion when Heifetz wasn't close-miked. I couldn't see the microphone so imagine it was well up out of camera shot. The first minute of the audio is very quiet - almost too quiet in places - and is likely what the audience would have heard live. However, at 1'00" what seems like post-dubbed reverb cuts in, the acoustic thereby becoming more dramatic and louder, and Heifetz's sound coming through better.

At 0'56" Heifetz is playing a sustained and vibrated high note on the E; there is little apparent hand vibrato at that moment but you can see his shirt cuff vibrating as a result of the arm vibrato.

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