High register vibrato
I’m looking for some hints on how to execute vibrato in the extreme high register.
I have to play this from “Into the woods” in a few weeks. It needs vibrato to sweeten the tone but i’m having considerable difficulties with it.
Any constructive advice is welcome.
You're background there. You don't want the intense top vibrato you'd use in a virtuosic work. And only play as close to the bridge as is absolutely necessary to get an adequately clear sound.
I've considered bringing my thumb around to the top bout to provide the extension required to comfortably reach the position. I understand that this is a technique sometimes used by violists. Is that correct? Should I avoid the option?
Scott, the traditionally correct way to reach high notes is to slide your thumb along the side of the fingerboard, rather than to use the bouts of the instrument.
I have large hands and can reach pretty much everh necessary high note with taking my thumb off the heel. If I need to hit an even higher note with any style, though, I pull my thumb between the lip and rib just right of the neck. I never saw why people draw their thumb up the fingerboard. Just adds more motion and totally messes with the angle of your hand. But that's just me.
erik, if I'm understanding what you're saying correctly, I don't think that's as standard as you're implying - I've rarely seen anyone taking their thumb up the fingerboard after it separates from the neck and comes up over the body of the instrument. I've always just left my thumb back by the neck and brought my elbow under so the hand floats over the body of the instrument - for instance, if you look up prokofiev violin concerto no. 1 on youtube, a lot of the thumbnails show what I mean. Your thumb is essentially in the position it would be in for a shaka sign.
I've been taught as Erik describes, but it likely depends on the proportions of your hand. Perhaps with a large enough hand, you can leave your thumb at the crook of the neck or even at the bout (I don't know about that one), but the more you can get your hand over the violin and over your vibrating finger, the more space you will have to move your hand (assuming you are trying to do a wrist vibrato here).
It is perfectly possible to play these notes without the finger "tip" hitting the string from the vertical - any part of the finger pad will do. Do not worry about pushing the string all the way down to the fingerboard - as long as the string is stopped enough to sound the note clearly without vibrato, a gentle vibrato should enrich the sound. Such a vibrato would be a gentler extension of one might make in 3rd position with the heel of your hand stabilizing the motion against the violin ribs - but for this high position your thumb will have to be the stabilizer, at least that is easier than having your hand floating from your wrist with no other support (as cellists do with no problems).
On viola, my stubby fingers get nowhere near the end of the fingerboard without one of the two solutions described above. I have seen Vengerov's and Bashmet's thumbs lying back along the side of the fingerboard for high viola notes.
Everyone's hand and posture will be a little different. I don't let my thumb go beyond that saddle point/heel. Instead I stop using my 4th finger for those ultra-high notes, my 3rd finger reaches farther. If the thumb moves up from that saddle point, you loose the support of the thumb, and shifting down from there seems dangerous. And--I never learned how to do it. That spot is definitely background; you are in the pit! Vibrato up there is narrow, faster, and don't try to play loud.
Irene, I simply meant that for very high notes where we can no longer keep our thumb on the actual neck of the instrument, the traditional method is to slide up the side of the fingerboard with our thumb until we're able to reach the note we're trying to achieve, *as opposed to* the method where we would use the bout or shoulder of the violin to achieve this.
I've been starting the passage with a 3rd finger on the b flat, staying in that position for the first phrase. Then I've been shifting a half position up using the first finger D flat on the A string as the reference, to play the rest without another shift in position. Thoughts?
I found a couple of youtube video explanations which advocate moving the thumb around to the bout. Here's an example.
Scott, there is nowhere in that video where she actually moves her thumb on to the *bout* of the violin. Her thumb stays in contact with the neck or the fingerboard at all times. You may want to look into what the "bout" actually represents on the violin. I think this is just a terminology issue here.
In find that coming round the bout allows all four fingers to approach the strings from the side, with a freer vibrato.
I used 3-1-2-3-2 on both phrases, I think. (I don't have my ITW music anywhere I can find it.)