beginner forum: for novice and developing blues harp players > Questions about (my) Vibrato
Questions about (my) Vibrato
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80 posts
Nov 03, 2017
1:20 PM
Hey folks,

so I've been reading the great vibrato-thread on the main forum that Killa showed me and I'm a bit confused. I have tried to learn (throat)vibrato from this Gussow-video


but after reading said thread it seems to me that for the produced sound to be called "vibrato" you need a difference in pitch - not just "within" the note but between the unbent note and the bent one. I've tried to visualize what I mean with the help of a bendometer (Harp key of Bb)

Vibrato "within" the unbent note:

Vibrato between unbent and bent note:

In the video of Adam, he does what can be seen in the first image and calls it vibrato. Here is my version of that vibrato:

Record music with Vocaroo >>

And here is my first attempt to produce a vibrato that switches between bent and unbent note:

Record audio or upload mp3 >>

So my question is: Which one is actually vibrato? Is the first technique just tremolo? Or are they both vibrato?
And while we are at it, I'd really appreciate some feedback on the quality of my vibrato / tremolo.
Thanks in advance, guys.

Last Edited by SkullKid on Nov 03, 2017 1:26 PM
5067 posts
Nov 03, 2017
2:39 PM
My device won’t play files from that service.

I believe vibrato is a pitch variation and tremolo is a volume variation but you can easily look it up for yourself. Roughly half the time it seems people use one term when they mean the other. Then someone will correct them. They are both valid techniques.
81 posts
Nov 03, 2017
2:46 PM
Thanks for your reply, Bee.
So the in the first case you'd also call it vibrato? It's a variation in pitch but not between two notes. What service are you guys using to embed files again?
5069 posts
Nov 04, 2017
1:35 AM
I record on my phone or a dedicated recording device (I have a zoom h1) and upload the file to ‘box’, then embed a link here.

Box is nice because if I use laptop or desktop it has an ‘embed widget’ which saves me having to write the HTML code, but sadly their mobile version lacks that widget.

Lots of people use soundcloud. That seems to work well.

Maybe I should try that too. It maybe simpler than box

Ah, yeah I think if you vary pitch you can call it vibrato without fear of correction. I won’t call anyone out on it anyway, if it sounds good I’ll dig it. The definition for tremolo is ‘amplitude variation’ which is just loudness I think. My Princeton Reverb has tremolo effect, can vary speed and ‘intensity’. It’s similar to a ‘flutter’ I never use it on the amp. I think it sounds weird. Too mechanical when it’s on every note. Vibrato is cool and I should practice doing it more effectively.
I can do it ok but I get lazy and don’t practice it so when I want it I run out of gas kinda quick.
I remember that video of Adam’s. Tbh I think he made something of a meal out of that. Iirc that’s the one where he says just keep at it and eventually it’ll come good.
I tried that and I really wasn’t getting far with it. Jimi Lee got me doing it in about 60 seconds without even trying, by teaching me to breath from the glottis (as he calls it) and then getting me to muck around with bending. He was getting me to play as flat as possible and then he says ‘oh I should teach you about 20 cents sharp’ then gets me to play light as possible in short bursts while watching the needle on the tuner and sure enough the reed starts playing sharp. And suddenly I have a vibrato and sure it’s rudimentary but it’s a starting point and a much better place than what I’d been doing trying to force it like Adam suggested.
2384 posts
Nov 06, 2017
4:11 AM
Yes, there's always these dictionary definitions being traded when the subject of vibrato comes up. If you do the proper 'vibrato' on a harp, i.e. vary the pitch, it typically comes with 'tremolo' built in too. I think you can isolate the tremolo more especially on blow notes - although on the harp the pitch tends to vary with intensity anyway, even on blow notes.

I think the musical truth is that vibrato is that variation of pitch, volume and timbre you get that emulates a voice. How it's done, and the precise components vary from instrument to instrument.

On your amp, the tremolo can be pure, but it's not like that on an acoustic instrument in general.

On the harp there are a couple (at least I guess) of ways to bring it about: the glottis thing Superbee mentions, or the wobbling the jaw, mouth, tongue assembly. They do sound quite a bit different. The glottis one is the classic blues sound.

Last Edited by MindTheGap on Nov 06, 2017 4:13 AM

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