Vibrato: Emerging Vibrato

What is Vibrato and How does it Emerge?

Depending on what kind of music you were raised on or enjoy, vibrato may be something that you vehemently avoid, or it may be to you the mark of a good, professional singer. Either side of that fence is a fine place to be. While I sing with one of the straightest tones that you have ever heard, outside of Michael Stipe, from REM, I can produce a pretty crazy vibrato and do bust it out for flavor from time-to-time. But I’m a rock/pop music singer. The classical or opera singer is the opposite. They will sing with vibrato on a normal basis and only use straight tone for flavoring. Again, either way is good. It is simply a matter of preference. So, I want to talk a little bit about what vibrato is and isn’t and how it emerges. And I use that word deliberately, because vibrato isn’t something that is produced or created, necessarily. It simply emerges from a healthy if sufficient breath control and vocal fold (cord) freedom exist in the singer.

Let’s first talk about what the phenomenon of vibrato and then talk a little bit about how it emerges; although, the exact source of vibrato is still somewhat of a mystery to the singing community and its instructors. But there are definitely some patterns that we will discuss.

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With vibrato, there is an oscillation in the pharyngeal (pharynx) wall, the epiglottis and even partially in the base of the tongue. It is a pitch variation that is characterized by a fluctuation that is neither too wide nor too narrow. Singers try to avoid the wobble or tremolo, which is not vibrato. Some singers, who try to avoid the wobble attempt to do so by restricting pitch variation. But not only will this bring about tension, full singing, full vibrancy, is what is needed to bring about vibrato, which brings us to the how to, or the source, of vibrato.

Vibrato is largely a result of the energy of complete breath coordination, the response of the vocal chords and the relaxation of the components of the vocal tract. It is product of an exciting of the larynx. It is somehow created by muscle relaxation in the midst of heavy-duty active singing. And with vibrato are three separate factors: pitch variation (oscillation), cycles per second (time related) and a deviation of magnitude (volume and range related).

So, there is the intro into vibrato. I’ll say more about it in the next post and talk more about how to bring it about.

Hope this is helpful so far!

Aaron

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