Baroque Vibrato

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Joe Taylor, Feb 26, 2002.

  1. Joe Taylor

    Joe Taylor

    Dec 20, 2001
    Tracy CA
    Several people have posted that you don't vibrato when playing Baroque music. I think that this is a miss guided statement. Robert Donington's book Baroque Music - Style and Perforance a Handbook talks about the vibrato issue several places. Starting on page 35 there is good explanation of how and when to vibrato. Boiling what he has to say is you have to use vibrato but not all the time and when it helps the overall sound of the music. He also states that vibrato was starting to be used around 1600. I think that if people were writing about it in 1600 it was most likely used before that.

    the ISBN for the book is 0-393-30052-8

    If you are going to play old music you need this book or one like it.

  2. Fezzball3


    Nov 14, 2001
    It's not that you're not supposed to play without vibrato, but instead that traditionaly it just wasn't used. Many people feel that if you want to truly play a boroque sonata, (such as eccles) that you shouldn't use any vibrato in order to hear the true pitches in addition to remaining consistant with the original form. However, since our modern ears are much more accostomed to a more romantic sound, it's almost natural to vibrate the hell out of those pieces. In fact, many teachers will tell you that you should use vibrato on every note. I take a middle of the road approach and pick and choose when I will use vibrato carefully. It's all about interpretation. Whether you choose to play with or without vibrato is your own choice, and neither is wrong or right.
  3. When I was working on the third Bach cello suite
    I was taught to use it sparingly for the purposes of shading a note in places where it makes sense, for example the third note of Bouree I and then everywhere else where that little fragment occurs.
  4. In addition to this question of vibrato, a baroque instrument reacts different than a modern one.
    On a baroque instrument, you can give more expression on one note through bow articulation.

    Try to imitate baroque interpretation on a modern instrument and you will feel there is something wrong. Actually there are specialists who use specific baroque, classical and modern instruments and bows.

    Vibrato is something natural, listen to a voice.
    Listen to baroque singers in Purcell, Pergolesi...

    I usually don´t like a Bach played on a modern bass
    without any vibrato, sounds like : "don´t bother, baroque doesn´t require vibrato" !
    The same way, don´t play Bach like you play Bottesini ! It seems this was a reality until a recent period.

    Jazz players don´t have this problem with history.
    Well, they are very well aware of all these questions of traditions, instruments, personnalities... and where not, they still give a living interpretation.
  5. dblbassmike


    Apr 14, 2002
    Detroit, MI
    I feel that it is ok to use vibrato when playing baroque style. Even though it may not have been used in that era of time; my bass professor encourages me to use a little bit of vibrato when performing slow movements. Not a lot of vibrato, but enough to give it a little color to long tones.
  6. Joe Taylor

    Joe Taylor

    Dec 20, 2001
    Tracy CA
    I think that is the exact point the book I cited was making. Use moderation. I know when I play old music it does sound real flat if you don't use a little vibrato. But in Baroque time musicans were using all kinds or ornaments to spice things up.

    I do the vibrato on slow parts half notes and longer. It it is real slow (largo) I hit the quater notes to but not hard and not every one. I try to get the feel for what the music is trying to do.

  7. superjew


    May 29, 2002
    To my understanding, in the baroque era vibrato was one kind of ornament that one could apply to notes. Sometimes, as in the case of French viola da gamba music (Marin Marais, Forqueray etc.), there were special symbols used to notate different kinds of vibrato which were mandatory in the execution of the music. French baroque music is a special case, but in other places, especially in Italy, for example, performers were expected to add a lot to the written notes in the form of ornaments and diminutions.

    The point is that vibrato can be used not just as a 'sound' but as an expressive device. It is worthwhile to be able to execute different flavors of vibrato with varying speed and width, and with varying techniques (one finger vibrato, two finger vibrato, vibrating an open string, vibrating a harmonic, vibrato with the thumb etc.)

    My favorite players use vibrato very creatively, for example Bert Turetzky, Joel Quarrington, Jordi Savall (gamba player) and Anner Bylsma (cello player).

  8. EFischer1

    EFischer1 Guest

    Mar 17, 2002
    New York, New York
    I think it's definately ok to use vibrato in baroque music, especially solo works. In the vivaldi sonatas as well as the bach suites i use quite a bit of vibrato, however not as much as i would in bottesini or in dragonetti.

    If you listen to the Ed Barker recording of Vivaldi's third sonata in A minor you might be able to get a good idea of when good times are to use vibrato.

    What it all boils down to is that everything you do in music should have a reason. Every movement, every bowstroke should have a purpose. Don't just use vibrato because a half note appears, use vibrato when it will liven the music.
  9. Dorminator


    Oct 22, 2002
    Hi all,
    I'm really glad to be here...and new to the group...
    It has been eons since I played...

    My feeling is that as bass players we have a giant responsibility to carry a performance... don't you?... I mean... that is what the bass is all about... and in that we need to be really sensitive to the sounds that are happening... when I played with a baroque ensemble where there was no gamba or cello (I was it) it was really important to mimic the sounds of the ensemble, carry the vibs so the harmonics could get out there and resonate... and vibrato can interfere with that... there is that precious place where the intonation is just perfect in those situations.. In playing solo like the eccles.. I for sure used vibrato... I think every note and situation requires in the moment descretion...
    ... this could make me want to play again...I like it here.
    thanks ...
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