Vibrato: should it match the tempo?

Edited: October 10, 2018, 8:01 AM · I have a question about vibrato. I've heard many times "your vibrato is not matching the piece, it's all over the place". I understand that you can't just vibrate as you desire, each piece has its own vibrato, more or less.

My question is: should the vibrato match the tempo?

That means, when you vibrate you have "peaks". Should those peaks match the tempo, for example, 4 peaks per beat, or 7 beats per beat, or any integer number per beat?

Or it's not that mathematical?

Replies (11)

October 10, 2018, 8:18 AM · It's not that mathematical.
But you vibrato slowly in slow pieces (perhaps accelerating as you crescendo) and fast in fast pieces.
Try to feel it.
October 10, 2018, 8:24 AM · Yeah, exactly, I hear that "feeling" thing a lot, but is that "feel" secretly implying an integer number of peaks per beat?
October 10, 2018, 8:37 AM · To précis my first sentence, No.

Listen to a variety of stuff on Youtube.

Edited: October 10, 2018, 8:39 AM · Record yourself with a click, slow it down in Audacity, et voilà.
October 10, 2018, 8:41 AM · Thank you, Andrew, I just wanted to clear that.
October 10, 2018, 9:23 AM · Matching the tempo can be sort of a starting point, but as has been pointed there are no rules, and it can also be quite subjective.

Check out different violin versions of Gounod’s Ave Maria . There are two nice versions by Anne Akiko-Meyers and the other by Anne-Sophie Mutter. You can see how they both approach it

October 10, 2018, 9:38 AM · My take on it is that you match your vibrato to your concept of the sound, which involves matching it to
1. the sonic behavior of your instrument and
2. the frequency of the fundamental pitch you are playing.

If you vary the vibrato speed and amplitude according to the tempo of the music it should still be informed by 1 and 2.

There are different concepts for approaching vibrato. Some players like to use a "continuous vibrato" - that becomes "their sound." Other players like to vary their vibrato and thus their sound within a given phrase or even a single note (for example, you will notice those who will sometimes start a note with no vibrato and then build the sound color with vibrato). Personally, I like the use of variable vibrato.

October 10, 2018, 2:45 PM · We may practice our vibrato to a metronome (I don't) but as with tremolando, it should certainly not be synchronised to the beat.
October 13, 2018, 8:50 AM · I am the school of thought that vibrato has many variables in choice. Like a note, it should often be shaped when appropriate. Yes tempo is a factor, but so too is desired effect. Just as pianissimo can be relaxed or intense, vibrato can be lilting or laser focused using amplitude and intensity of swing along with arm vs wrist vs finger angle and placement.
All of these, aling with frequency, can be dynamically changed throughout a note or phrase or from one phrase to the next.
Back to your original question, tempo is just a starting point.
October 13, 2018, 11:09 AM · No, it should match the overall character of the piece, which I guess includes tempo... The first thing that comes to my mind was this:

I think the fast vibrato adds a burning intensity, and a slow vibrato here would sound quite limp.

October 13, 2018, 11:18 AM · Vibrato speed should not match the tempo of the music, but should be appropriate to the pitch and the string length. The vibrato on low notes on the G-string should sound rich, wide and slow. That same vibrato high on the E-string will sound awful. High notes should have the fast,physically narrow vibrato. Also, when the notes are flying by at speed that matches or is faster than the vibrato (4-6 /sec) the notes will sound bent. Turn it off.

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