Impulse vibrato...

July 18, 2015 at 04:19 AM · I really like this type of vibrato, and would use it if my instrument allowed it. :)

It ca be heard in any recording of Kreisler, Elman, Seidel or the young Heifetz.

I have found that this vibrato requires a certain amount of string tension to actually work and also requires that the string not be too close or too far from the fingerboard, otherwise you simply get a warble instead.

Case in point: My violin has low tension pure gut Chordas on it and a high bridge. The slackness of the strings and the height from the fingerboard means that I can only use this vibrato while getting it to sound like vibrato on the A and E strings (and even then it cannot really be used musically).

Contrast that with this: (Young Heifetz, influenced by and imitating the vibrato of Kreisler) (Kreisler) (Elman) (Seidel)

Thoughts and comments please? (Nate Robinson and Oliver Steiner, where are you guys)? :D



July 18, 2015 at 04:22 AM · Greetings,

always interesting. actually I don't think it is just the young heifetz.

The finger tip impulse always underlined what he was doing.


Mostly I only practice this vibrato now because it automatically benifits the others.


July 18, 2015 at 05:17 AM · But he did not use it exclusively after he got a bit older.

He started to use arm and wist vibrato most of the time (though he always used impulse vibrato for his rather high notes, which is why they always sound so sharp and distinct. :)

July 18, 2015 at 05:57 AM · Greetings,

actually I think it is more subtle than what you describe. Like I said in my previous post, the underlying basis is fingertip impulse. he then adds wrist or arm movement to that as he sees fit.. Whether you want to call that wrist or arm vibrato and leave it at that is a personal choice but to me there is a difference, albeit miniscule. But I think that is why writers such as Roth have never gone on record as saying that Heifetz used finger tip impulse vibrato in the early days and then changed.



July 18, 2015 at 02:46 PM · Just out of curiosity, who made up the term "impulse vibrato" and can someone describe how it is achieved, what it is, and what is the difference between this type of vibrato and others? I don't quite get that it is a vibrato coming from the fingertip. Where does this fingertip impulse come from?

July 18, 2015 at 04:18 PM · My problem is that impulse vibrato is all I had for a while. Now I'm trying to engage warp-drive vibrato, starting with my wrist. So far, so good, but as with everything I try to learn on the violin, it goes slowly.

July 18, 2015 at 08:57 PM · Impulse vibrato: In his book, Violin Viruosos from Paganini to the 21st Century, Roth had this to say re Kreisler and vibrato on p.39:

Kreisler used what I have chosen to call an "impulse vibrato"...his vibrato was generated from some point within the arm to the oscilating fingertip, which had an extremely narrow point of contact. The result might be likened to an electric current, enlivening each note he played to whatever degree he chose.

It is generated by keeping the finger on the string and repeatedly pushing it down and letting it back up (without the finger leaving the string of course). :)

July 19, 2015 at 03:12 AM · Greetings

impulse vibrato is what happens when you get older. your brain says 'vibrate' and your fingers respond with 'not today, I'm feeling grumpy.'



July 19, 2015 at 10:49 AM · Just found out a way to mix impulse and regular vibrato that does not take too much effort:

Place your finger very lightly on the string, and start vibrating while letting the string move up and down.

It really works, and prevents any tension because the finger is not holding the string down before the vibrating starts. :)

This is also what several players (I think the most well-known was Menuhin?) advocated- That the only need the weight of vibrato and no more to actually vibrate.

July 19, 2015 at 12:52 PM · Hi,

Some thoughts on this whole thing as it seems to have come up several time...

Bruce: Roth made up this term in attempting to explain the particular vibrato and tonal characteristics of Kreisler's tone,, mostly, and to some extent Heifetz. It comes from him, and some others have taken it later on and attributed other meaning to it.

A.O.: The fingertip thing that you describe is not impulse vibrato. Roth made up the term to describe a vibrato that started in the arm, combined with a flexible moving wrist and fingertip joint that was flexible. It doesn't have a up and down motion of the finger on the string and that is not where he mentioned it originated. The issue at the time Roth wrote his book is that early players often used wrist vibratos with little arm motion. In essence, an "impulse" vibrato begins in the arm, with a moving wrist and is carried through to the fingertip. That is also what Heifetz used. In his early career his vibrato was somewhat less intense, and we only have video from later on, so recordings will tell you little about whether or not he changed the means of production or the result.

This is the problem in general with attempting to qualify certain things with terms when they are made up. In the end, vibrato is the result of many things including how one feels hears the sound. The unique quality in some way of Kreisler and Heifetz was the incredible blend and harmony of all types of vibrato techniques together that could be used for expression.


P.S. edit: what Menhuin meant what that you needed only the natural weight of the finger on the string with no additional pressure from the thumb and finger against the neck and fingerboard. The vibrato comes from motion and nothing else.

July 19, 2015 at 04:37 PM · Can someone help explain what Flesch is talking about in his finger exercise to help speed up the vibrato, where the finger (only?) goes from harmonic pressure to full pressure. I think it's supposed to help get the last joint of the finger used to the tensing and relaxing cycle for vibrato, but the whole thing is pretty confusing. It sounded like what "impulse" vibrato seemed to be talking about.

It also seemed like Dounis may have taught something similar if I'm understanding right - At least he referred to "impulse", although more in terms of the quality of vibrato. Was he teaching anything different than anyone else in terms of mechanics, or was he just insisting on certain underlying principles so as to not give a lax sounding vibrato - He stated here that he favors wrist vibrato

Is the vibrato that Kreisler or Elman used really more due to some mechanical difference, or was it more about how they heard it in their heads?

July 19, 2015 at 05:08 PM · Christian Vachon - I totally agree. Personally I just don't get this impulse vibrato thing. It's either finger, wrist or arm, or a combination of all three.

July 19, 2015 at 05:59 PM · Christian Lesniak- sorry

a vibrato that doesn`t contain a releas eof pressure from the fingertip will be over tense and in the long run harmful to he player. By doing the flesch exercise one is simply practicing this release so that the over all vibrato improves. I havent looke dta the flesch version for years, but I practice the vibrato rythm exercises from Foschers warm up book using this technique rather than the actuall rolling of the fingertip done with hand arm. It has a veyr good effect on the vibrato.



July 19, 2015 at 06:53 PM · I personally think that (rightly or wrongly) vibrato has become so ingrained that it is a continious pheneonema and it even continues during fast semi-quaver passages. This is what probably causes left hand tension.

It was never so (in my opinion) with the great players of the past. Vibrato was used as an expressive musical device which varied from note to note, and was clean in as much as it never blurred the intonation, the musical line, or the musical intention.

The opening octaves in Elman's recording of the Beethoven concerto were played without vibrato, not because he couldn't do it, but because he wanted an honest sound.

This takes courage, as well as conviction.

July 20, 2015 at 04:48 PM · Hi,

Christian: the exercise from Flesch has two purposes. First, to make one more aware of pressure and release of the finger with the goal of avoiding/removing unnecessary pressure/tension, as mentioned by Buri. The other, was to ensure that the first finger joint was able to move in vibrato, and like Buri said, to prevent a locked first finger joint. The idea of finger in vibrato is more related to the ability of the first joint to move than anything else. Flesch's exercise were designed or selected to enable one to be able to include a combination arm, wrist and finger and remove limitations to any one use of vibrato. Each targets what may be at the source of the movement and removing any deficiencies that may be present.

As for Elman and Kreisler, the means of production differed. Elman used primarily a wrist vibrato, which Kreisler used a combination vibrato with the movement beginning in the arm. From the little video available of Kreisler and Elman, this is what seems to be the case. I don't know much about Dounis and will let someone who is familiar answer.

Peter: thanks!


July 20, 2015 at 05:19 PM · Greetings,

if you get a chance, take a look at Simon@s Warming Up. In the vibrato section he has four basic exercises which if done correctly for about a minute everyday everyday help to develop both wrist and arm vibrato while covering all the bases on what thefingertip/finger does. My one slight criticism of the commetary is that e doesnt mention that when one is practicing pushing and pulling the finger away movement he doesnt actually tell you to avoid letting the wrist play a significant role in the action.



July 22, 2015 at 11:03 AM · Fascinating. Guitar has 4 vibrato types. But this one doesn't work very well because the action of the strings is lower for us.

July 25, 2015 at 06:17 AM · Impulse vibrato - is it true that this could be sub-divided into two groups?

If you 'impulsed' by simply increasing and decreasing finger pressure, but pivoting from the 1st joint (where the finger joins the hand), then theoretically there would only by up-and-down movement (think jackhammer), so no change of pitch - just volume.

However, if you pivoted from the 3rd joint, the finger would be moving very slightly backwards too, thus changing pitch.

Just a thought, having just tried both methods.

July 27, 2015 at 10:59 AM · Jim: If done correctly (as I assume Mr. Redrobe knows wat he is talking about) your finger should push up and down but also lower the pitch slightly as well.

Just altering the volume does not get you a proper vibrato with this method, you just get a warble. :)

July 27, 2015 at 03:05 PM ·

August 1, 2015 at 12:09 PM · As the finger rises a little, the contact will be a fraction further from the nail, so the pitch will lower a little (and the tone be less clear).

This vertical motion is a component of any effective vibrato, but I only practice it seprately as a remedial exercise.

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