Wednesday, October 17, 2007


The whole notion of vibrato is an interesting concept in the art of singing.I was initially trained as a flautist and wished above everything else to have a vibrato like James Galway's!When you start playing the flute, students ALWAYS play with a straight tone.The reason is a simple enough - no mastery of the muscles which are needed to support the breath.In my endeavour to emulate Jimmy Galway my " vibrato " sounded very much like a goat on crack - very fast and unsatisfactory!Gradually, with the recognition of the diaphragm and the intercostal muscles you start, quite deliberately to learn vibrato.The exercises I started with consisted of using for example 4 "wobbles" per cotchet beat( Wobbles was the term used by my teacher and also none other then Trevoy Wye, a famous British Flute Teacher) in a simple hymn tune which hooked into the support needed to sustain a line of vibrato. Any throat sounds that occured during these exercises were frowned upon and for good reason - you don't support any breath emission with the muscles of the throat.So rather then a vibrato being a natural form of expression individual to each person, it was taught to me as a very deliberate and worked on mode of expression which took some time to master.I find it interesting that singing teachers don't use vibrato exercises in vocalise. There is a notion that this should be a " natural " consequence of proper vocal training and therefore unneccesary to teach. I completely disagree with this view as singers must be made aware of all the musculature involved in securing his or her vibrato.My flute teacher also got me to picture a sine wave and using that picture as a model of a perfectly produced vibrato - not too fast, not too slow and very smooth.

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