View Poll Results: Straight Tone or Vibrato in choral singing?

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  • Straight Tone

    31 83.78%
  • Vibrato

    6 16.22%
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Thread: Vibrato or Straight Tone in choral singing?

  1. #1
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    Default Vibrato or Straight Tone in choral singing?

    The choirs at my university sing in straight tone, because the conductor says that the pitches are much purer, the chords are much clearer, overtones "shoot out" much more, and that it's actually not uncommon practice in Europe, you just don't hear it quite as much in the United States.

    Here is an example of one of our choirs (I do not sing in this one) singing in straight tone, and pay attention to the very long held chords. I don't feel they'd have NEARLY the same effect if the singers used vibrato.


    I'm afraid I've been spoiled, because now whenever I hear other choirs sing with vibrato, I feel like the chords aren't very clear, and sometimes I don't even hear the third or fifth or seventh or whatever other important scale degree of the chord clearly.

    Yet still, some choirs, like the Latvian youth choir Kamer sing with vibrato, but I like their sound very much. Is it in how it is used or how much of it is used, or what?

    What do you guys think?

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    Senior Member Rasa's Avatar
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    As a listener, I definitely prefer without vibrato in most cases. The Yt you posted hear has that choral sound I do appreciate.

    Also in modern works, a vibrato would ruin the effects of the dissonants. With straight singing, the dissonants can become softer or harder as required.

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    Senior Member SalieriIsInnocent's Avatar
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    I prefer straight singing with more than one person, vibrato works better for solo in my opinion, though it can work as a duet. You get a group doing it, it can ruin a piece, unless everyone is vibrating together.

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    Senior Member HarpsichordConcerto's Avatar
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    Especially on pre-Baroque, Baroque and Classical, I prefer pure tone at historically informed pitch practices. Can't imagine Medieval monks and chants wallowing in vibrato, and neither did Baroque church music.

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    Opera choruses where all the singers are using vibrato I think distorts the tone very much. I like straight choral, and vibrato solo, as Salieri said.
    "Music is an art, and art is forever. Music should not succumb to fashion, which is passing and forgotten."
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    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    I prefer that vibrato is reserved for solo pieces.

    I wish my choir director at church shared the same opinion - we have some elderly ladies that have a vibrato so wide that their chairs move from side to side.

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    Senior Member World Violist's Avatar
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    Wow, unanimous 9 votes for straight tone. Imagine that.

  12. #8
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    Yes. Vibrato in choral music makes an unfriendly muddy sound. Sometimes you catch one or two musicians singing vibrato in a choir when the rest are singing straight voice. It actually sounds quite funny. The voice stands out. The singer appears to want to go to the restroom. )

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    By the way, I don't remember for sure but I think that one pro-vibrato voice was given by me... I accidentally clicked on it. )))

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    Pure tone for anything pre-20th century since it wasn't a fad back then.

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    Definitely straight, no vibrato.

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    Wow! I didn't think it would be unanimous for straight tone (since the one vibrato vote was an accident). How about for orchestras? I have some recordings of a straight-tone orchestra playing Brahms' symphonies and some other works, and they are really good.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Orange Soda King View Post
    I have some recordings of a straight-tone orchestra playing Brahms' symphonies and some other works, and they are really good.
    Are any of them on YouTube? I'm curious to see the difference.

  18. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by KJohnson View Post
    Are any of them on YouTube? I'm curious to see the difference.
    Yes, and here is a sample:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIGWiODSGos

    Compared to this:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84FEMDX29Y8

    However, the first orchestra is a bit smaller and they're also on period instruments.

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    Thank you so much! I've been listening to these back and forth for a few ours now. It's amazing to study something like this.

    The one with no vibrato gives a strange metallic kind of quality. Both are enjoyable, but listening to them, I can see why vibrato has become the standard in orchestral and string music. It thickens the tone and creates a more overwhelming impact.

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