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Vibrato on up bow

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by TonyD, Jul 23, 2012.


  1. Hi, - I want to improve my vibrato. On down bow it's OK - on up bow however is still feels unnatural and I can't last it too long...

    I feel uncoordinated ...:crying:

    I have seen the youtube vids (Klinghoffer etc., various cello vids) to check my technique. My thumb is behind my second finger at the back of the neck, when second finger id doing vibrato. Somehow, I cannot succeed to get a nice vibrato like on up bow.

    Any tips?
     
  2. Long tones. Lots of long tunes. Just keep practicing, you'll develop independent hands in time
     
  3. First re-examine your vibrato. It should be able to stand apart from the bow direction. Avoid wrist vibrato ("turning the round door knob", or rotating the forearm). There should be lots of threads describing a larger forearm movement that is more related to the way your hand moves between positions but is trapped into a roll by opposing the (second) finger with the thumb. The thumb is like the centre of a rolling (not twisting) motion of the entire forearm, of which the wrist and hand are a logical extension. There should be no more pressure between finger and thumb than you usually use for a clear note. The height of your elbow in relation to your hand has a big effect on success. Too high or too low will choke the required movement. Any stiffness will produce jerky motions.

    (1) Can you do the same nice relaxed vibrato for, say, 6 times after you pizz, letting the movements taper off as the sound dies away.
    (2) Then pizz with 2nd finger on A (G string) and gliss up to D, rolling over into vibrato as you stop. Use the momentum of the shift to help start the relaxed vibrato naturally. Do the reverse from D to A.
    (3) Then repeat (2) using arco.
    (4) Work on achieving relaxed "perpetual" motion, with or without sound.
    (5) Then work on switching on and off the vibrato motion at will, with or without sound, gradually broadening and narrowing the width. This could be accompanied by speeding up or slowing down the vibrato.

    To me the vibrato I described above feels like throwing the heel of your hand towards the bridge but the whole forearm and wrist are trapped into a much shorter roll because the finger opposes the thumb. There should be an elastic bounce at each end as you push the pitch slightly faster up than you relax back, like saying "HaaHaaHaaHaa" over and over again.

    I think of the forearm being rather like a crank attached at the elbow to the upper arm that rotates like an axle in the shoulder joint. According to Professor Knut Guettler of Norway, who has studied this sort of thing carefully, there are small muscles alternately operating behind the shoulder that have a big effect on the success of vibrato. That is how far back in the system we have to look when examining the source of the motion.

    Having checked out your basic vibrato technique now examine the reasons why something changes the vibrato action between up bows and down bows. What tightens? Physically or mentally? Even if your just simulate bowing by just brushing the string with a slowish bow speed (ignore the quality of sound) try and spot what happens. The aim is to make one arm operate independently from the other.

    Then listen, listen, listen. Vibrato should be like the icing on a rich chocolate cake of sound, not a distraction for the listener!!!

    Cheers..... DP
     
  4. engedi1

    engedi1 Supporting Member

    Sep 16, 2005
    Nashville
    Why are you watching cello vids? I would find some bass vids. Look up Joel quarrington. His vibrato and tone are amazing. Also, vibrato is not a beginning technique. There is a lot that goes into it, and a lot of foundational stuff that needs to be learned first. I don't have my students worry about for the whole first year of study. Do you have a teacher? Trying to learn something like this on your own is not a good idea. Try to find a couple lessons with a good teacher. I am bewildered by how the bow direction messes up your vibrato unless you tense up your right hand on the upbow, which then tenses up your whole back and left hand. A good teacher can sort it out.
     
  5. engedi1

    engedi1 Supporting Member

    Sep 16, 2005
    Nashville
    That Site has good advice. The problem is, you need feedback from your teacher, it is really hard, maybe impossible, to judge yourself in this regard.
     
  6. MostlyBass

    MostlyBass Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2002
    Oak Park, IL
    Hey - thanks for checking out my website!!
     
  7. Of course you're right, but besides a personal teacher I am always eager to get lessons and tips from this forum.
     
  8. chicagodoubler

    chicagodoubler

    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    Work on vibrato with a metronome every day. It takes years. Also, please *do* watch videos of cellists. Also, violin and viola. We have much to learn from the rest of the family.
     
  9. ;)
    The second movie at chapter

    Vibrato finished product demo

    is unfortunately not available...
     
  10. engedi1

    engedi1 Supporting Member

    Sep 16, 2005
    Nashville
    While we have a great deal to learn from all great string players, I strongly disagree with watching violin videos to learn vibrato technique (which is the topic of this thread) . The specific motions used are so different I can't see how this would be helpful. If you want to watch or listen to amazing cellists to get inspired as to better ways to interpret the cello suites or something than more power to ya, I would never suggest otherwise as we all need to listen to everything on our journey, but I would *not* watch such videos to learn bass techniques of any kind. Virtually every student I have ever had come from either a violin background, or had no lessons but from a orchestra teacher in grade school, who had taught them fiddle technique, and we spend months trying to hold the bow, and yes, vibrato like a bass player. I would stick with studying bass players for your technique, and the other guys for inspiration, musicality, phrasing, etc.
     
  11. chicagodoubler

    chicagodoubler

    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    The basic mechanics are the same for any string instrument. Obviously studying with a good bass teacher is the first answer to any playing related issue, but watching Starker and Bell is never ever going to hurt one's playing. In my own professional career, cellists have answered questions where bass pedagogy fell short.

    There is an isolationist position within the bass community that is often self- imposed. We don't share the chamber music with our smaller siblings, and the inherent difficulties of the instrument make us a constant punchline. IMHO, we should learn all we possibly can from the rest of the family, and strive in all regards to be as beautiful and agile as a great fiddle player. The rest of the family has no issue sharing pedagogy, and the last time I checked there is far more in common with a fiddle than there is different.

    All that being said, let me reiterate- start with a good bass teacher. Anything borrowed from other instruments is the cherry on the sundae.
     
  12. Bass and cello vibrato is very similar from a mechanics point of view. With our lower pitches we just need to vibrate a bit slower. Violin can teach us about when and how much to use vibrato, but vey little about how to make it work.
     
  13. engedi1

    engedi1 Supporting Member

    Sep 16, 2005
    Nashville
    +1 to everything you said. Very well put. However, in light of the op seeming to be in the early stages of bass study, I would still suggest pretty strictly sticking to bass pedagogy until he is little further along. Other teachers may have different opinions about that and that is cool. Also, and I am open to being wrong never having studied cello, but it seems to me that bass vibrato is more of a whole arm movement than cello vibrato which is more arm and wrist. I don't want my student or myself to rely on elbow and wrist motion which is why I would avoid cello vibrato.
     
  14. engedi1

    engedi1 Supporting Member

    Sep 16, 2005
    Nashville
    +1 to everything you said. Very well put. However, in light of the op seeming to be in the early stages of bass study, I would still suggest pretty strictly sticking to bass pedagogy until he is little further along. Other teachers may have different opinions about that and that is cool. Also, and I am open to being wrong never having studied cello, but it seems to me that bass vibrato is more of a whole arm movement than cello vibrato which is more arm and wrist. I don't want my student or myself to rely on elbow and wrist motion which is why I would avoid cello vibrato.
     
  15. chicagodoubler

    chicagodoubler

    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    I started on the cello, so am not entirely an impartial contributor to the discussion but.... There is more than one way to vibrate, and there are dozens of different ways to teach it.

    As in all things pedagogical, do what your teacher tells you til you can play it as well as they do, then look around for other answers. No single teacher has all the answers for every player.

    We focus so much on the mechanics of this technique, but I think the most essential technical anatomy of a beautiful vibrato is the ear!!!! I have personally made vibrato worse with students by making them focus on the physical motion too much. As has been said before, vibrato is actually an advanced technique, and ideally it should blossom naturally, and be brought to maturity through daily exercises for control over speed and width for proper artistic expression.
     
  16. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    + 1 to that!
     
  17. Tom Gale

    Tom Gale

    May 16, 2009
    Ditto Les!
    Tom Gale
     
  18. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    This remark made me think. Yes we have to watch bass videos also. But I used to watch cello videos to learn and listen to their vibrato all the time. Is cello vibrato really different? In my opinion it isn't. Yes if we play on lower string our vibrato is slower. But if we play in the exact same register (say TP and higher) and the same part on cello pitch it doesn't make sense why cello vibrato is different from bass vibrato. Maybe it is technically different because of the thicker strings? But when we play in the exact same pitch we should apply the same speed and vibrato width (so the same technique) because it is musically the same. Or am I missing something here?

    I am curious what you have to say about this. It is a nice discussion point I think. Don't want to start a new topic though so I hope we can discuss it here.
     
  19. gerry grable

    gerry grable Supporting Member

    Nov 9, 2010
     

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