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Thread: The Vibrato! :(

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    Junior Member Conductor's Avatar
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    Post The Vibrato! :(

    I've been listening to professional choirs lately, and I've noticed many of them use vibrato in non-solo pieces!

    So my question is... Do you like vibrato?
    "The symphony must be like the world; it must contain everything."
    -Gustav Mahler

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    Senior Member purple99's Avatar
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    Excessive vibrato in choirs is often the sign of a weak conductor. I've heard countless choirs where banks of singers warble away, oscillating their vibrato a quarter tone in either direction, but all doing it at different times. Result: an underlying musical cacophony which obscures the lines and produces a sound which the composer certainly didn't write in his manuscript. A good conductor would put a stop to it, if necessary by coaching each section or sub-section individually, and telling the ringleaders to 'put sock in it' (and firing them if they won't). But sopranos, in particular, at full warble can be intimidating, especially if they’re the musical director’s wife or related to the chief financial patron. So they're often permitted to yodel like Swiss peasants and wreck countless performances. It’s not good. Audiences shouldn’t tolerate it.

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    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    I quite agree with Purple99.

    One of the finest choral groups I've heard here in the states is the St. Olaf Choir. Their sound is crystal clear and their diction absolutely superb, including the ending consonants. I got to hear them in a live performance this past spring when their tour stopped and performed at our local University of Arizona Centennial Hall - I was ushering that night ... superb performance.
    Kh
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    You know, it is terribly easy to blame vibrato as the culprit for poor musicianship, when the latter is really the problem. To use a choral palate which is completely devoid of vibrato is like painting only in black and white: skilled technicians know how to use EVERY color of their voices to the fullest extent in a choral setting.

    Vibrato is not a bad thing, poor tuning and no control over vibrato is.

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    Member jamzky's Avatar
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    sometimes is drives me crazy, there are many singers out there who are actually very inaccurate with pitch and seem to use vibrato to disguise it, or maybe the vibrato is to blame. I prefer purer Baroque voices like Emma Kirkby and definitely no vibrato in choirs! Not so great choirs often attract primadonna show-offs who like to flaunt their vibrato and ruin the ensemble. Interesting topic this one.

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    Senior Member Weston's Avatar
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    Vibrato in choirs can be awsome - as in Ligeti's Requiem, but usually I don't like vibrato at all, not in choirs, not in solo voices, not even in violins. It becomes bombast if overused or in the wrong context. It should usually be a garnish, not the main entree.

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    Senior Member World Violist's Avatar
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    I think vibrato in choirs is a good thing if used in moderation, but someone like Christa Ludwig in a choir would totally ruin it, in my opinion, although she would probably know how to tone down her vibrato to the point that it would be "acceptable"...
    You get a frog in your throat, you sound hoarse.

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    I think many solo singers over-use vibrato. Particularly tenors. There seems to be a fashion today for tenors who have the subtlety of a rhinoceros, and who warble so alarmingly that you can't tell what note they are actually singing. It really seems unmusical to me.

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    Senior Member handlebar's Avatar
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    I like vibrato as a balance to the music where embellishment and ornamentation is appropriate.
    But in a choir?? No thanks.
    And excessive vibrato in ANY form is defeating IMHO.

    Jim

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    Senior Member TresPicos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamzky View Post
    sometimes is drives me crazy, there are many singers out there who are actually very inaccurate with pitch and seem to use vibrato to disguise it, or maybe the vibrato is to blame. I prefer purer Baroque voices like Emma Kirkby and definitely no vibrato in choirs! Not so great choirs often attract primadonna show-offs who like to flaunt their vibrato and ruin the ensemble. Interesting topic this one.
    There are many ugly vibratos out there.

    If the vibrato is kept tight and centered it can be a sublime thing, but many famous singers tend to relax the control so that it gets sloppy, spans over too big a gap, never really hits the correct pitch (althought it passes it many times) etc. Then, the joy of listening to them is gone.

    And vibrato in a choir is just nasty.

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    Member tenor02's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by miamibachfan View Post
    You know, it is terribly easy to blame vibrato as the culprit for poor musicianship, when the latter is really the problem. To use a choral palate which is completely devoid of vibrato is like painting only in black and white: skilled technicians know how to use EVERY color of their voices to the fullest extent in a choral setting.

    Vibrato is not a bad thing, poor tuning and no control over vibrato is.
    exactly. Also, what people dont realize is that holding a straight tone on pitch is incredibly hard as it takes a totally different set of muscles that (if not properly trained) are very hard to use. Often, it takes singers years to be able to hold a straight tone properly.

    Quote Originally Posted by TresPicos View Post
    And vibrato in a choir is just nasty.
    i totally disagree. Its the vibrato of a choir that keeps everybody in tune as a straight tone often has the tendency to go flat...and there's NOTHING worse than a flat choir.

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    Member Bgroovy2's Avatar
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    First thing that needs to be establihed is: what is vibrato? true vibrato in singing is a little different then vibrato in string instuments. Vibrato is a natural function in singing as the lungs release puffs of air to equalize the pressure as the diaphram contracts. It will cause slight fluctuations in the tone. It should take no effort on the vocalists part. If the vocalist attempts to fluctuate the tone through muscle control, that would be called tremelo! Tremelo often has to big of a variance with a very unpleasent and forced sound. It should only be used in very limited applications. If you have a whole choir forcing this sound, I can't see where that would be at all atractive and pleasent to the ear!

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    Senior Member World Violist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by handlebar View Post
    And excessive vibrato in ANY form is defeating IMHO.
    This is very, very true. I wish more people realized it sometimes...
    You get a frog in your throat, you sound hoarse.

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    i find it strange that vibrato gets such a bad press nowadays. to me, the solo voice without vibrato is castrated and forced. i find it to be a small and unhealthy sound.

    when it comes to choirs, it's been quite a while since i last sang in (or heard) a choir of a professional level, so i'd be hesitant to say here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by handlebar View Post
    And excessive vibrato in ANY form is defeating IMHO.
    of course, it would help if you could elucidate what you mean by 'excessive'.

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