Vibrato, received vs acquired wisdom?
May I re-cycle an earlier post, with additions..
I think we practice below the note, but in fact the forward swing overshoots a little in the heat of the moment (I checked).
But in rolling below the note, the fingertip is on its softer part and the timbre is less bright (I checked) leaving a less clear imprint on our perception (I imagine).
While when we roll nearer the nail, the tone is clearer and a fraction louder (I checked). Hence the illusions of an intensity tremolo as well as a pitch vibrato (I imagine).
Side-bands? A mathematical trick, useful in analysis (I have read).
But I do know the violin frequency response is a mass of peaks and troughs, so than pitch vibrato will also induce modulation of timbre (I checked), doubtless enriching the perceived tone quality (I suppose).
But how about our aural perception of vibrato width and speed?
Width: Carl Seashore, in The Psychology of Music, found that most singers vibrate half a semitone either side of the note, most violinists only a quarter of a semitone. Our pitch recognition is only slightly reduced.
Speed: Fritz Winkel, in Music,Sound and Sensation, relates that at 4Hz we clearly hear the ondulation, but towards 7Hz were hear the core note with variations of intensity. At 12Hz we hear a trill-like cluster. Here we touch on the speed of our pitch recognition.
Toffee popcorn ready, check. Feet up, check.
As a player who professes zero intellectual wisdom, received or acquired, on this topic but threescore years of practice at making his tone as good as he can get it, I wonder if Adrian is slightly overthinking this?
"most singers vibrate half a semitone either side of the note, most violinists only a quarter of a semitone"
Whatever sounds good
To add on to what Gordon said:
Steve, amongst enthusastic overthinkers I may be one of the most succinct?
There are no sidebands because there is no carrier frequency. Sidebands are for EM radiation.
Ann, I was looking for that when I read to original post! thanks!
You cannot discuss string-instrument vibrato without discussing the influence of overtones in the context of "violin frequency response is a mass of peaks and troughs" (as mentioned by Adrian). It is all important to what we perceive (of what we hear).
In Adrian's defense, having clearly defined ideas and terms, and additionally, technology, would probably make the learning process much faster. Everyone should rely on their ears, but what happens when some player has relied on their ears and I still don't like their vibrato? What is the balance between someone subjectively expressing themself and a lack of taste?
Nathan Cole famously reversed himself on this issue. He was a dyed-in-the-wool below-the-noter until the stark evidence from slowed-down performances of many many great violinists proved otherwise. I respect his ability to supplant "pros know" with actual data.
When there isn't an objectively "right" answer as to how vibrato should sound, just a wide range of opinion and a wide range of circumstances in which it's used, I can't really see the point in analysing it. The best analogy I can think of is a search for the "right" or the "best" way to apply paint to a canvas.
At the recommendation of a few teachers, I went and did the analyzer experiment as well, as I was also taught by multiple instructors to move downwards in the physical motion, and it's clear that the pitch does go above and below the intended note in vibrato.
You can analyze all you like and dictate on how it is done but at the end we play a note with vibrato that sounds in tune to the ear, just as we do without it. Thus, the (our) ear balances differences in actual tone and all the other effects mentioned above to an 'acceptable in tune' outcome. What that is no doubt varies depending on many factors including which particular note we are playing on that particular instrument.
Steve, I just like to distinguish impressions from facts.
Gene wrote, "So while the idea presented in the lesson may not reflect the physical reality, it is in effect a 'trick' to get players to generate a usable motion."
Ann's may just tell you that with vibrato you're not modulating a carrier frequency, just changing the basic frequencies rapidly. I looked a summary of the Winkler guys work, and Wow! Seems like a very wordy academician who is looking in the wrong places with very complex sounding nonsense for answers to simple questions. Or mainly for grants?
About working "mainly for grants," some fields are very expensive, and personnel (including assistantships, tuition, and fringes for graduate students) can be a significant part of one's costs. That is especially true in engineering. That means you can't work on what you can't fund -- which is to say that "academic freedom" in those fields is greatly constrained. Those fortunate enough to have funding beyond a certain critical level can divert small portions to exploratory ventures,. discreetly. Funding that is entirely unfettered is rare (for example the MacArthur Fellowships, or accounts that might accompany special chaired positions). If you are a hermit who sits in his office writing poetry, then you can do whatever you want once you have tenure. But if you need a lab, then you need to show the right kind of productivity to claim furnished space from your institution, and the right kind of productivity generally includes overhead-bearing grants.
Tom Bop understands. I seem to recall in the previous discussion that there was one person who understood and it may also have been he. And no, the target frequency is not a carrier.
Yes, Ann, I commented before that you understood radio to one of your posts, and you mentioned like the Zenith Transoceanic. My fav here is an old tube Telefunken with a nice teak cabinet. I really like the old air capacitor tuning that you adjust a little as it drifts...I also made my own stereo/speakers, using 2A3 power tubes, just like the movie theaters in the 1930s.
Tom, my dad added a knob to vary the bandwidth on our AM radio (not teak, only Bakelite I'm afraid) to get more high audible frequencies, but at the cost of overlapping other stations.
I remember my dad's Keathkit "hi-fi" set having knobs for rolloff and so on, on the preamp, from before those things were standardized.
This is my acquired "wisdom" (or just plain opinion...):
Scott, you describe what Fritz Winckler relates, (see my OP) i.e. at a typical vibrato rate of around 7Hz, we perceive the pitch changes as intensity changes.
There must be something about 7Hz, actually 5Hz - i.e., 0.2 second response time and the human nervous system. I remember the good-old strobe-light days of the 1960s. Played around with those and what they did to our perceptions of motion and continuity of motion (dancing, etc.).
Menuhin mentioned vibrato in his book, Violin & Viola: he thought it should be as varied as the English weather.
Tremolo is amplitude modulation, vibrato is frequency modulation.
English universal weather forecast: "sunny periods and scattered showers".
How he must have hated his student Jascha Heifetz!
Touche, Adrian. But I wonder if Heifetz was more subtle and varied in his vibrato than is often alleged. Remember that the prevailing view of Heifetz today is based on his recordings, not live performances, and his recordings were perhaps "state of the art" for the time, but not by today's standards, and some of the tonal subtleties are just harder to hear. Still, I believe many of today's violinists take much broader parametric advantage of vibrato, such as Mutter and Hadelich, and I believe this trend represents an improvement in violin-playing as a whole (yes, I really wrote that). But of course the soloists of today were able to study the recordings of Heifetz and the other violinists of the motorized-vibrato generation (Grumiaux, Stern, Oistrakh, Menuhin, etc.), and not the other way around. Those who venture too far from the standards of their time struggle getting gigs.
I find Heifetz's vibrato on disc subtly varied, as is that of his legatee Hilary Hahn.
@ Steve Jones
My 4-7 cents worth. Part of question of preferred vibrato is cultural/fashion. The vibrato on early recordings for both violins and singers was, as a group, faster and tighter than now. I can't stand the extra wide vibrato of the solo singers in Bollywood movies.
That's kind of you Adrian! But Elgar's Op63..?
Oops! Wrong glasses?
I think everyone should know by now that a good vibrato goes over the pitch to a certain extent, with 50% being not at all unreasonable. All that is required in the execution is to start the note with a flat enough finger so that it can actually have the opportunity to curl up and receive those juicy 'over' tones. Very simple and not much science behind that. What I think now is the real killer which separates the plebs from the pros is how to make the vibrato even in amplitude speed. I personally have the problem that the upper most note of my oscillation lingers slightly longer than the lowest note, thereby creating a vibrato which instead of a smooth wave, sounds more like an uneven dotted rhythm. Quick fix should obviously be to consciously reverse the rhythm habit in controlled fashion, but somehow still struggling to get the perfect wave when letting loose...
The slower the vibrato, the harder, and the more need for practice.
-Adrian,-- Agree, a lot of Opera soloists have a too slow, too wide vibrato. It is one reason why they are usually not successful in non-classical genres. At one time that was considered a sign of the physical weakness that comes with age-- time to retire. I have had vocal lessons. I refused to do what some singers do; use the vibrato mechanism to articulate the fast scale-passages in coloratura spots, or do the non-legato "motor-boat" effect; glottal stops between the notes that should have a slur mark over them. Both string players and singers should turn off the vibrato when the the speed of the notes is faster than the speed of the vibrato-- about 6 cycles/sec.
Joel, this raises the question of "continuous" vibrato.
-- I would make a distinction between continuous vibrato and connected vibrato. Most students and a lot of good players have a stop-and-go vibrato; the vibrato stops for a short moment between the notes. Connected vibrato needs to be trained. Synchronize the motion so that a higher number finger drops into place when the vibrato motion is moving up. Then lift the higher number finger while the vibrato is moving down. The lower number finger should already be in place.
Indeed, one "function" of vibrato is to "detach" the tones from their enveloping accompaniments, necessary in large venues.