RE: Slow Vibrato

Andrew Wimhurst writes:
>Anybody got any tips on getting a slow vibrato -
>like the one that Rick Estrin uses on Marion's
>Mood? There's a point in the track where he
>really nails a long slow greasy vibrato.
>I've tried diaphragm, tongue, jaw, throat - what
>the heck's going on here? I can get a slow
>vibrato, but not THAT slow...

I'm sticking my neck out here because I haven't
heard the recording in question. Have you
identified how many time per beat Rick is
pulsing? The better players often (though
certainly not always) time their vibratos to a
division of the beat. 

Is it just the slow speed of the vibrato that
you're having trouble with, or some other aspect
as well? Any of the methods you mentioned can
produce a slow vibrato.

Vibrato is just a repetition of a single action
at a steady rate. That rate can be whatever you
want, within the limits of your body's ability
and what you consider musically useful. But often
vibrato is learned as something you just turn on
and off, letting the speed be set by whatever
involuntary rate is produced when your body
follows its line of least resistance.

Controlling the speed of vibrato is something you
can learn by:

1) identifying (or choosing) the action that
produces it

2) isolating that action so that you can do it
ONCE and stop

3) Performing a widely spaced series of single
actions, so that you get practice in producing it
voluntarily more than once in a row.

4) starting a metronone and repeating the single
action in a sequence at a regular rate, smoothing
out transitions between actions.

5) working up or down in speed using the
metronome so that you can produce the vibrato at
any rate you choose.

Pulse rates for vibrato are usualy more than once
per beat, typcially 2, 3, or 4. For very slow
pulse rates, it may be practical to practive them
once per beat, as the metronome may not a have a
slow enough setting for multiples. Also, most
players have a big problem not rushing the beat
at very slow tempos.

For medium rates, it's probably best to start
with one per beat for maximum corrective feedback
from the metronome, then go to two per beat -
keeping your pulse rate the same but setting the
metronome twice as fast. 

For three per beat, start with the pulse rate
you're working at, and find a slower metronome
beat that will group the same pulse rate in
threes instead of twos. Using the same metronome
beat and pulsing it in threes pushes you into a
faster rate that you may not be ready to handle.
Better to use the same pulse rate and just find a
metronome beat that groups it in threes instead
of twos.

For instance, let's say you're pulsing two ber
beat at a metronome beat of 120 beats per minute
(bpm). That's a pulse rate of 240. 240 divided by
2 pulses per beat is 120. 240 divided by 3 pulses
per beat is 80.

For really fast rates, the metronome won't go
fast enough to keep up with every one or two
pulses, so you'll have to go to 4. for instance,
480 pulses per minute is too fast for the
metronome, and so is 240 for most metronomes. But
120 is something they can all produce.

I'm currently working on learning faster
throat/diaphragm vibrato. I've always been
comfortable dividing the beat into 3 or 4 pulses
at medium tempos, but now for the stuff I'm
playing nowadays I need to be able to pulse at
around 480/minute (4 pulses/beat at 120 beats per
minute.) Every day I spend 20-30 minutes with a
metronome (currently set around 80) doing first 8
beats of exhale then 8 of inhale, pulsing 4 to
the beat. Then 4 beats each way, then 2, then 1,
then changin breath every pusle, then various
syncopations. I do this with full 4-note chords
at first, then work on single notes. If I'm
feeling a bit vague, like I'm not staying in
synch with the beat, I'll double the tempo to 160
and play 2 per beat instead so that I have twice
as much "lock-in" from the metronome.


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