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Thread: Vibrato

  1. #1
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    Vibrato

    I've not thought much about vibrato in my playing over the years since I've been playing primarily in bands. But now that I want to develop my solo and small ensemble skills, I'm working to develop it. There aren't a lot of studies on it that actually describe the technique that I can find, but I have listened to Steven Mead on it and he describes a "yah yah" in the back of the throat. I'm not sure how one can manipulate the back of the throat into that movement, so maybe I'm misunderstanding what he's doing. Right now I'm using my embouchure to produce the vibrato, but it's inconsistent. I've also experimented with manipulating my tongue for the yah yah effect, but I'm not sure if that's the best either. What is/are the most effective method(s)? And can anyone explain what Steven means in his instruction?

  2. #2
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    I'm not a pro but pretty good hobbyist. I use jaw or some call it lip vibrato. I try to only use it during solos and just on longer held notes. Especially at the end of the phrase. The speed of vibrato varies for me... slow like 4 beats per second for melodic solos, faster for jazz or swing.

    My teacher/mentor was Fred Dart. He used diaphragm vibrato which was more of a change in volume than pitch I think. I tried it but never could do it.

    One of my favorite soloists is Demondrae Thurman. I really like how he uses vibrato. Seems a bit slower than some other soloists.

    The Lord's Prayer (Mallot) - Demondrae Thurman 'just warming up'
    Last edited by RickF; 05-18-2021 at 03:15 PM.
    Rick Floyd
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    "Always play with a good tone, never louder than lovely, never softer than supported." - author unknown.
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  3. #3
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    Yes, I've tried jaw and diaphragm - diaphragm being out of the question for me, and I guess jaw/lip is a form of what I'm trying to do with embouchure. I'm using David Vining's vibrato exercises in his Daily Routines book, but it's not a technique book.

  4. I know it isn't the accepted way or proper way of doing vibrato, but is it strange that I move the instrument for vibrato? I started with trombone, so it came naturally from that to slightly shake the instrument. I don't find that it bothers anything by slightly moving the instrument for vibrato. Although I'm always usually sitting down when I play. It is harder to do vibrato like that standing up.

  5. #5
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    Some trumpet players use 'hand vibrato' or the shaking of the horn. Pretty sure Harry James used that method. Much easier to use that method on trumpet than any larger horn.
    Rick Floyd
    Miraphone 5050 - Warburton Brandon Jones sig mpc
    YEP-641S (on long-term loan to grandson)
    Doug Elliott - 102 rim; I-cup; I-9 shank


    "Always play with a good tone, never louder than lovely, never softer than supported." - author unknown.
    Symphonic Band of the Palm Beaches
    Russian Christmas Music (Alfred Reed)
    Russian Sailor's Dance (Reinhold Gliere
    )

  6. #6
    I think jaw vibrato is probably the most effective (most common, also) way to make vibrato on a euphonium. Diaphragm vibrato is used by some, and pulses the air stream to get a vibrato effect, but I don't find this method the best for euphonium. I would advise against shaking the horn to get a vibrato. Doc Severinsen used the shake method, but it is far easier to shake a trumpet then it is a big brass instrument. It would probably look a little silly for me to be standing in front of a crowd playing a solo and shaking my horn at the same time. They would probably think I was nervous or something. Don't use this as your method (shaking the horn) would be my advice for that type of vibrato on euphonium.

    There are many articles written on vibrato. It is a learned skill for sure. Not just getting the technique of how to do it down, but also learning where to use it, how much to use it, vibrato speed, depth, etc. It helps greatly to listen to good singers (both contemporary like Andy Williams, Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, etc. and classical singers - opera types). Listen to how they use vibrato to color their phrases, using it at the end of a phrase or note, etc. A lot can be learned and put into your own repertoire by listening to singers. And of course, listen to the good euphonium players and see how they use vibrato. I strongly believe that vibrato on euphonium is an essential skill.

    I use vibrato on solos for sure. I also use vibrato when playing my music in a wind ensemble or concert band. There are many places in the music where vibrato works well. Even in most marches, particularly during the trio usually when the euphonium has either a nice melody or counter-melody. There are some who say not to use vibrato when just playing your part in band music. I don't agree with that at all. I think there are very many places where vibrato works just fine.

    And there are places for euphonium where you don't want vibrato. One place that comes to mind is the tenor tuba part (usually played by euphonium) in Mars from the Holst Planets Suite. No vibrato here.

    I also play trombone (tenor and bass in two different orchestras). Most of the time I do not use vibrato. I also, also play trombone in a big band and use vibrato a lot, even when not playing solos.

    So, a lot to learn about vibrato. But the euphonium is an instrument, if there ever was one, that is just made for vibrato. But you have to learn to use it musically and appropriately.

    For learning start by playing a medium range note with no vibrato. Slowly move your jaw up and down to get the effect. You can speed up, slow down and also vary the spread of the pitch. Just keep at it and play melodic pieces where you can put vibrato on certain notes, usually at the end of a phrase. It won't make much sense to try to put vibrato on every note, especially fast notes. You have to dwell on a note for a little bit to be able to add vibrato effectively.

    The key to learning this skill - LISTENING!!!!!! Go on YouTube and type in the names of good euphonium players (Steven Mead, David Werden, David Childs, Gary Curtin, Brian Bowman, Glenn Van Looy and many others).

    Once you develop and use a good vibrato, you will wonder how you played without it.
    John Morgan
    The U.S. Army Band (Pershing's Own) 1971-1976
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  7. #7
    I think I recall Roger Behrend saying in a clinic, "There is nothing more beautiful that the sound of euphonium with vibrato; and there is nothing [uglier]* than the euphonium sound without vibrato."
    * not sure if that was the word he used there.

    Simone Mantia played without vibrato, but these days ANY soloist would be expected to use vibrato on most music. But it should be controlled.

    I use lip vibrato mostly. Sometimes I use what [I think] Steven was talking about, although I'm not entirely sure how I'm doing it! I think I pulse some from the lungs, but I may also use my throat. If you say the syllables he mentions you will note that the back of your tongue does move. In any case, lip is my go-to vibrato. I use the air vibrato sometimes in jazzier pieces and sometimes where lip disrupts the embouchure too much (especially on low notes when I'm fading out).

    Here is a video I did about producing and controlling vibrato. I show how a tool for learning to control lip vibrato is by working on lip trills, which is simply a more dramatic form of lip vibrato's movements.

    https://youtu.be/AyIZWoqmhKo

    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
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  8. #8
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    Great feedback, thanks folks.

  9. #9
    I use a diaphragm vibrato on flute (and its cousin the ocarina), but I can't make that work on euphonium. Jaw vibrato for me. I'm also not one for waggling every note longer than a fast eighth-note; I tend to use vibrato only on longer notes, and bring it in about halfway through the note, like a good pop singer might do it.
    David Bjornstad

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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1Cor13:4 View Post
    I know it isn't the accepted way or proper way of doing vibrato, but is it strange that I move the instrument for vibrato? I started with trombone, so it came naturally from that to slightly shake the instrument. I don't find that it bothers anything by slightly moving the instrument for vibrato. Although I'm always usually sitting down when I play. It is harder to do vibrato like that standing up.
    I've worked with my teacher for years to try to speed up my lip vibrato, but I just can't seem to get it - my lip vibrato is too slow to be musical. I recently started using a hand vibrato, and the sound is much better. I do not recommend this; if you can master lip vibrato, use a lip vibrato, because a hand vibrato changes the embouchure and imparts a slight lack of stability to the 6th and 8th partials.
    Dean L. Surkin
    Mack Brass MACK-EU1150S, BB1, Kadja, and DE 101XTG9 mouthpieces
    Bach 36B trombone; pBone; Vincent Bach (from 1971) 6.5AL mouthpiece
    Steinway 1902 Model A, restored by AC Pianocraft in 1988; Kawai MP8, Yamaha KX-76
    See my avatar: Jazz (the black cockapoo) and Delilah (the cavapoo) keep me company while practicing

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