How do you feel about vibrato?


  • Global Moderator

    When I was pursuing a career in orchestral music, I once had the privilege of playing some excerpts for Tom Hooten and Barbara Butler. One issue they addressed in my playing was too much vibrato. I think I even rebutted with, "Well, Roger Voisin used lots of vibrato." However, Hooten put it clearly by saying something to the effect of: "Well, if you want a job in 2014, you will need to temper your vibrato."



  • I don't think one could agree or disagree until one heard you play. Otherwise, it's just hypothetical.

    As an aside, I had my vibrato on a jury challenged, too. Fact was, the vibrato didn't come from a premeditated philosophy but because my legs were shaking uncontrollably. đź‘ą



  • Never had a problem with vibrato. I've been able to apply it judiciously and to remove it where appropriate. I generally like some vibrato, as it seems to my ear to add depth, richness, and emotion to the part, although some music requires a clean clarity that would be degraded by vibrato, so naturally vibrato would be avoided in these situations.


  • Global Moderator

    The fact of the matter is, that my teacher in high school was a product of Voisin, Herseth and the Boston (pre-1970s) school of playing. So, that sound was ingrained into my head as a teenager.

    I will still listen to older BSO, NYP and CSO recordings and remember why I love the sound of those so much. Sound and accuracy are plentiful today, but the style, oh the style...it's missing today. Well, not entirely. Chris Martin has an exceptional way of playing, too.



  • When vibrato is TOO noticeable, I think it is too much. Gilbert Johnson had a strong vibrato in the Philadelphia Orchestra, but it never distracted me.



  • First of all, I will not declare it right or wrong universally. That task is for the much better informed. I will share my thoughts, however, which most of you know I freely do on occasion.
    If it sounds like too much, it might be too much.
    If you are in a group, it might be better to cut back on it a little, as it can affect the intonation of an ensemble.
    I think that previous message was for me, mostly.



  • In my younger playing days ( 1953-65 ) I, like many other younger players, wanted to sound like Harry James. So yeah, I over did the vibrato thing back then, but since my comeback in 2016 I only use vibrato where I feel it enhances the piece I am playing. An example would be sustained notes in a phrase.



  • I was taught early on not to use vibrato in a group setting and to use it sparingly in solo work. As a result I didn't use it much until I started taking trumpet lessons. My trumpet teacher would actually mark on my music where he thought I should use it.



  • Well, I'll pitch this idea, in the wrong group, you'll make waves. In the right situation a whole lotta shaking going on.



  • Some people have but one vibrato, and we need a wide variation, from shimmer to Harry James. Saxophonists practice vibrato in time--quarter notes, eighth, etc as to be able to control it.



  • A little vibrato goes a long way. Years ago, I got into the bad habit of using vibrato on everything. I don't think it belongs in most classical, baroque, etc. music, though, and it was a hard habit to break. I still use just a little on solo passages, but that's about it. When asked why he didn't use vibrato, Miles Davis responded that he would when he got old and couldn't hold the trumpet steady any more (or something to that effect).



  • A neighbor of mine in Boise Idaho used to be in a Mariachi band. ( He is in his 80s ) I asked him if he wanted to play as we stood chatting outside. SĂ­, como no? He said.
    As soon as he made a note come out- it was vibrato. Every note, every time....that's how Mariachi bands roll. Very rapid vibrato. Not for everyone. I silently got a kick out of it but didn’t want him to stop. He hadn’t played for 15 yrs, too. Sadly he is now in the Veteran's home and doesn’t remember me any more.



  • Vibrato also depends greatly on style. It's different if you're playing in an orchestra or jazz combo. On legit sax, I always adhered to the concept hat vibrato is an inherent component of the sound. In pop and jazz, it's more variable.



  • How do you feel about vibrato?

    A bit shaky!



  • A couple thoughts about vibrato. It is a part of a players voice... of all players, I think of Harry James as the trumpet voice where vibrato worked for him. In an interview with Miles Davis, Miles noted when he was taking trumpet lessons in grade school, he tried to mimic Harry James vibrato with during his lessons. His teacher waked him on his hand and told him to cut out the vibrato... and the rest is history. Miles developed an anti-vibrato approach by playing the "simple, pretty notes" that gave him his voice.

    For me, my voicing rarely uses vibrato, and only when that color is truly needed such as during a Dixieland piece or perhaps sparingly and tastefully during a ballad. I do sometimes use vibrato when ending a song, if it works well against what the other horn player(s) is(are) playing.



  • The full quote on Miles is, paraphrasing, that his teacher said, "Don't use vibrato. You're going to get old and start shaking, anyway".


  • Global Moderator

    My trumpet teacher post-college was a student of James Stamp. He wrote his dissertation on vibrato. Fortunately, it lies in a library about 30 minutes away from me. I think I will check it out and read it and post my thoughts here.



  • Adding to the discussion:

    Hand vibrato or embouchure vibrato?

    I've always used a hand vibrato probably as a result of my first teacher who was a big band trombone player and taught me hand vibrato technique when I first started playing.



  • Add wind vibrato, a la flute.
    Some is dependent on air intensity, some on embouchure pressure, take your pick. It is the results that count.

    I'll add, though, that in my experience, hand vibrato is most used in older styles.



  • I generally don't think about it. It comes and goes depending on what piece i am playing. Sometimes (Cilieto Lindo) I will consciously try to add a stronger vibrato but that is a style issue. In our brass quintet the second trumpet and i will try to match vibrato or delete it entirely depending the piece, but we generally try to sync.


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