©©®®©©®®©©®®©©®®©©®®©©®®©©®®©©®®
THE FOLLOWING CHAPTER IS FROM 
THE "BORN TO SING" INSTRUCTION BOOK 
BY AUSTIN & HOWARD 
Produced by MusicWorld & the Vocal Power School 
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VIBRATO
Refer to VOCAL TECHNIQUES CD / Video / Tape) for
our step-by-step vocal exercise program
Vibrato is the pulse or wave in a sustained tone that gives the voice a professional sound. The ability to control your sustained tone with or without vibrato is extremely important for any vocal style. Although vibrato is a musical effect commonly taught in the study of string instruments and most wind instruments, it has rarely been explored in depth in voice training.

The following quotes, from individuals who should know better, show an amusing variety of misinformation and lack of clear knowledge concerning vibrato for singing. 

"Only opera singers need vibrato."
"It's a gift from God."
"Vibrato is not pure. It distorts the sound of beautiful resonance."
"Vibrato is an undesirable effect because it causes a tremolo."
"It's an emotional reaction when you're excited about the song."
"Rock singers don't need vibrato."
Even the Harvard Dictionary of Music states that "among singers, there exists ... uncertainty as to what vibrato means" and refers to the "singer's use of it without being aware of doing so." This lack of awareness extends to some people who have said, "You can't teach vibrato" or "I plant the seed in your subconscious ... every lesson, I water the seed."

A string player, such as a violinist or guitarist, creates the vibrato by pressing down on the string with the finger in a rapid back and forth motion. This motion causes the string to lengthen and shorten alternately, producing a slight fluctuation in pitch. A quicker back and forth motion produces a faster vibrato and a slower motion produces a slower vibrato. The player with control can choose the vibrato speed and where to use it, according to his or her artistic taste. A wind player, such as a flutist or clarinetist produces vibrato by fluctuating the air pressure, sending it through the instrument in a pulsing or wave-like motion. This may be controlled with the lips, throat anchor abdominal muscles.

Expressive Singing
Professional singers often use vibrato variation for expressiveness. It is a popular misconception that vibrato is used only by opera singers. If your career is to include studio work, back-up or group singing, the ability to control your vibrato and straight tone (tone with no vibrato) is a basic requirement. 

Vibrato For The Singer
Vocal vibrato is the slight fluctuation of pitch and volume of a sustained tone. In general, the pitch variation should be minimized to an interval spanning about a quarter step. (A quarter step is half the span of a half-step interval.) If either the pitch or volume fluctuation is too great, the tone may sound wobbly or off-pitch. It's rare but there are singers who use a wide vibrato effectively .The average vibrato rate is 5 to 9 pulses per second.

Essentially, we can identify three types of vocal vibrato:

Vocal Cord Vibrato (Not recommended for most singing) 
Vocal cord vibrato is achieved by producing rapid inter-ruptions or a flutter in the focus of the vocal cords. This vibrato has a kind of "machine gun" quality, something like the "ba-aa-aa" of a lamb or a rapid laugh. Its versatility is limited because it is very difficult to vary the speed and width.  Vocal cord vibrato is typical of the singing styles of some Middle Eastern cultures and is a familiar characteristic of the French chanteuse (cabaret singer) and was common to the style of some American folk singers of the 1960's.

Throat Vibrato (Not recommended for most singing)
Throat vibrato is produced by manipulating the throat muscles to move the larynx rapidly up and down to create fluctuations in pitch. One problem with throat vibrato is that because of the muscular tension used, you often see a shaking tongue, jaw and even a shaking head.  This constriction often creates a pressure in the throat and larynx that flats the pitch. If too much tension is used, it leads to vocal fatigue and hoarseness. 

Throat vibrato could be rapid and narrow or slow and wide. It is heard in almost any style, but it's most frequently used in the Pop field.  Many Jazz and Blues singers use throat vibrato to imitate instrumental style.  Even though many Pop singers use throat vibrato, it should be used with discretion, if at all. Many singers use throat vibrato in combination with diaphragmatic vibrato. 

"Diaphragmatic", Abdominal Vibrato (Recommended)
The diaphragmatic vibrato is produced by pulsations activated by the abdominal muscles, while keeping firm support. The pulses cause the air to flow through the vocal cords in a wave-like motion, creating a slight fluctuation in pitch and volume. Using this method, you can control the speed and/or width of your vibrato. With diaphragmatic vibrato, you experience "singing on the breath" - a free-flowing vocal tone that requires no muscular constriction in the throat. 

The type of vibrato you use is your individual, artistic choice that depends on your musical material and personal style. However, we recommend diaphragmatic vibrato because it is consistent with good support and it helps release undesireable throat tension.  Such tension could flat your pitch or tire your voice or destroy the "quality" of your sound.  Some singers have a style that is easily recognized by the uniqueness of their vibrato.   It can even be their trademark. But surprisingly few singers, even professionals, are aware of how they produce their vibrato.  Many teachers and singers alike claim that the vibrato is natural.  However, no one is bom with a vibrato. If not learned from a teacher, it is learned by imitating other singers.  You should be able to recognize the various types of vibrato used by artists in all areas of vocal music. For example, R&B (Rhythm & Blues) singers, in general, use a slower vibrato than Opera singers. Jazz singers imitate the many vibrato styles of jazz instruments like the trumpet, sax, flute and guitar.  Pop singers, in general, use vibrato more sparingly than Classical singers, often beginning a sustained tone with no vibrato (straight tone), leading into the vibrato.  Vibrato speed may vary from one song to another and also within a song, changing with the emotional expression. Usually, a slower vibrato is used in a slower song find a faster vibrato in a faster song. Speeding up the vibrato as you sustain a tone increases the energy and intensity of the sound and emotion. The ability to control your vibrato gives you many more options in creating your own style.

The Straight Tone
The straight tone is a sustained note without vibrato.  In Pop music it is an integral part of vocal expression and emotional coloration. Melodic lines of quarter notes or shorter duration are almost always straight tones.  In Pop music, a sustained note often begins with a straight tone that moves gradually into a vibrato. This is called delayed vibrato (   ^^^^    ).  Very rarely, if ever, would a tone begin with vibrato, then become a straight tone. But since anything is possible in the realm of artistic interpretation, it is conceivable.  The straight tone has been used from the beginning of vocal music. It can be heard in Early music such as the Gregorian chant of the Middle Ages and in the Renaissance period by composers such as Palestrina and Josquin des Prez. Straight tone and delayed vibrato are common to the Baroque style as in the music of Landi and Monteverdi and in the late Romantic period as in the music of Richard Strauss and Richard Wagner. Straight tone and delayed vibrato are found in the music of some 20th century composers such as Alban Berg, Anton Webern and Arnold Schenberg. 
EXERCISESfor Diaphragmatic Vibrato
1.  Using the exclamation,  "Hey!",  send out an easy "shout-like" sound, as if calling to someone across a crowded room. Strive for a balance in the out and down sensation of the support muscles with good focus and forward placement. Don't push! Listen for the ring and feel the buzz.

2. Without stopping the tone, send out a "Hey!" with 2 pulses.  He-ey! (not Hey!-hey!)

You should feel subtle pulses within the abdominal area as a slight but definite outward action (not pulling up and in).  Keep your rib cage up and open.  Don't let it collapse down with the pulses. The abdominal muscles should maintain a gentle firmness, not rigid and not bouncing.  The vibrato pulses are created by the abdominal muscles other than the support muscles.  Don't close the throat or vocal cords to end a sustained tone. End the sound using the last vibrato pulse. Make it
sound as though it vanished into thin air and not clipped, coughed or choked off. Keep the pulses even. Keep your jaw relaxed and flexible. You can also use a hiss (s s s s s) or "shhh" sound instead of the "Hey!" to practice the vibrato. Alternating between pulsing the hiss and pulsing
the vocal sound is an effective way of developing your vibrato control.
3. Now increase the number of pulses (If you have a metronome, use it to help keep the pulses even):
3 pulses:  s-s-s,       He-e-ey!
              (~ ~ ~)      ( ~ ~ ~ )

5 pulses: s-s-s-s-s,   He-e-e-e-ey!
             (~ ~ ~ ~ ~)  ( ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ )

9 pulses: s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s,    He-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-ey!
             (~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~)  ( ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ )

As note values, this exercise would read as follows:

PRINTED MUSICAL EXAMPLES ARE AVAILABLE IN THE "BORN TO SING" BOOK
DEMONSTRATION & SING-A-LONGS EXERCISES IN VIDEO AND CDs
4.  At first, choose a medium pitch and a medium volumeso that you will more easily be able to feel the support. Asyou progress, try other variations ... high notes, low notes, loud, soft.  Check with your finger tips to make sure you're not bouncing the support muscles. Keep your rib cage up and open. Try not to let the pitch vary or wobble. Think of the vibrato as ripples on the surface of a flowing stream of sound.

5. In head voice, using the vowel "ee", 
Sing:

PRINTED MUSICAL EXAMPLES ARE AVAILABLE IN THE "BORN TO SING" BOOK
DEMONSTRATION & SING-A-LONGS EXERCISES IN VIDEO AND CDs
6. Using the hisses as a preparation, three times in a row,
Sing:
PRINTED MUSICAL EXAMPLES ARE AVAILABLE IN THE "BORN TO SING" BOOK
DEMONSTRATION & SING-A-LONGS EXERCISES IN VIDEO AND CDs

In head voice, three times in a row,
Sing:

PRINTED MUSICAL EXAMPLES ARE AVAILABLE IN THE "BORN TO SING" BOOK
DEMONSTRATION & SING-A-LONGS EXERCISES IN VIDEO AND CDs

7. Using the words "on and on", in lower register,
Sing:

PRINTED MUSICAL EXAMPLES ARE AVAILABLE IN THE "BORN TO SING" BOOK
DEMONSTRATION & SING-A-LONGS EXERCISES IN VIDEO AND CDs

8. In head voice, using the words "you and me,"
Sing:

PRINTED MUSICAL EXAMPLES ARE AVAILABLE IN THE "BORN TO SING" BOOK
DEMONSTRATION & SING-A-LONGS EXERCISES IN VIDEO AND CDs

Repeat thig exercise, moving up a half step at a time. Vary word combinations and vary volume.  Use the practice phrases on page E-l.

9. Now let's use delayed vibrato, that is, a straight tone followed by pulses on each sustained note. Use a single vowel "ah" or "eh", first loud, then soft, and feel the pulses as sixteenth notes on the last 2 beats of each measure.
Sing:
PRINTED MUSICAL EXAMPLES ARE AVAILABLE IN THE "BORN TO SING" BOOK
DEMONSTRATION & SING-A-LONGS EXERCISES IN VIDEO AND CDs

10. Repeat, moving up in half steps using your practice phrases.

11. Sing the following exercises in various parts of your range, using the practice phrases.
Sing:

PRINTED MUSICAL EXAMPLES ARE AVAILABLE IN THE "BORN TO SING" BOOK
DEMONSTRATION & SING-A-LONGS EXERCISES IN VIDEO AND CDs

12.  Using a slow song, choose the words that you would like to sustain and practice them using 3, 5, 9 or more pulses of vibrato depending on how long you hold the note. Be specific with the counts.
13.   Also in your song, practice delayed vibrato. 
For example,
Sing:

PRINTED MUSICAL EXAMPLES ARE AVAILABLE IN THE "BORN TO SING" BOOK
DEMONSTRATION & SING-A-LONGS EXERCISES IN VIDEO AND CDs
Work on speeding up and slowing down the vibrato rate, keeping a smooth, gradual flow with even pulses. In
performance, you would not count pulses, but as a practice technique, this is an excellent way of perfecting your
control. A singer with diaphragmatic vibrato control can design the vibrato speed to the desired emotional energy
level and create wonderful musical effects. Understand that mastering the vibrato may take time and patience,
but the professional sound you achieve is well worth it. 

Sustaining Diphthongs With Vibrato
The general rule to follow when sustaining a tone on a diphthong is to sustain the first vowel sound and tag on
the second vowel sound with the consonant (if any) on the end of the final vibrato pulse. 

Again, in some vocal styles, the "ee" sound at the end of "my" (mah/ee) could be pronounced "ih" (as in him) to soften the sound. The "oo" at the end of "now" (N/aa/oo) may be softened to "uu" (as in wood). 

For example, the word "my" sustained or held would be sung like this - M/ah/ih - and the word "Now" - N/aa/uu.
 

1. Choose a single pitch;   using the words on this list, sustain the first vowel sound and tag on the second vowel sound with the consonant on the end of the final vibrato pulse.  The final consonant is pronounced just after the final pulse of vibrato. 
Sing:
PRINTED MUSICAL EXAMPLES ARE AVAILABLE IN THE "BORN TO SING" BOOK
DEMONSTRATION & SING-A-LONGS EXERCISES IN VIDEO AND CDs

Sing:                                           I.P.A.

(Smiled) Smah - - - - - - - - - aheeld [  *  ]

(Boy) Baw - - - - - - - - - - - awee    [  *  ]

(Moist) Maw - - - - - - - - - - aweest [  *  ]

(Day) Deh - - - - - - - - - - - ehee    [  *  ]

(Face) Feh  - - - - - - - - - - eheece  [  *  ]

(Now) Naa - - - - - - - - - - - aaoo    [  *  ]

(Cloud) Claa  - - - - - - - - - aaood   [  *  ]

(So)  Saw - - - - - - - - - - - awoo    [  *  ]

(Home) Haw  - - - - - - - - - - awoom   [  *  ]

[* I.P.A. = International Phonetic Alphabet - See BornToSing book]


Sustained Consonants
Consonant "R"
Watch out for the consonant "R" following a vowel (storm, hard, heard). There is a tendency to close the vowel and move to the "R" too soon. Stay on the open vowel and save the "R" for the end of the final pulse of vibrato.
 (Hard) Hah  - - - - - - - - - ahrd
              (  ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~  )
However, in Country Western music, it may be appropriate to sustain the "R". Also, you often hear Pop singers sustaining other consonants such as "L", "M", and "N". 

Throat Vibrato
Throat vibrato should be reserved for special effects and styling.  The simplest way to feel the sensation of the throat vibrato is to move your voice quickly back and forth through the interval of the minor 3rd, for example, C-A-C-A-C-A-C.
The result is a kind of wobble in the sustained tone. Now, decrease the interval to a major 2nd, for example, B-A-B-A-B-A-B.
Now, decrease the interval to the minor 2nd, for example, Bb -A-Bb -A-Bb -A-Bb.
Finally, try a very minute change in pitch ... about a 1/4 tone or less. With the throat vibrato, the fluctuation in pitch is usually more obvious than with the diaphragmatic vibrato.

Like all the other vocal skills, throat vibrato is more easily controlled when there is a balanced foundation of support, focus and open resonating space. Again, we recommend using diaphragmatic vibrato for almost all applications. 

Helpful Hints

1.  If you find you cannot speed up the diaphragmatic vibrato and you feel that you are laboring at it, you are probably pumping the pulses too hard and allowing the support muscles to relax between pulses. Don't force or jerk the pulses. This actually drags down the speed.

2. Let the tone flow out.  Don't think up and down  in pitch.

3. Don't allow any other parts of the body to pulse along with the vibrato, (e.g., head, jaw, ribs, stomach). Use your finger tips to check that your support is not obviously pulsing with the vibrato.

4. If you are having trouble keeping the vibrato smooth, emphasize the steady support without increasing air pressure.

5. When the balance is achieved, it takes merely subtle pulses to produce the desired effect. The result is a vibrato that feels natural, free and ... On The Breath.

Background On Vibrato
Vibrato is used in all or most Classical singing, but prior to 1700, the pure straight tone was preferred.   The straight tone in singing was characteristic of Renaissance music and earlier works such as the Gregorian Chant. These works are still performed in that manner today.  Approaching the nineteenth century, the vocal repertoire of the Romantic period began to reflect more emotional realism (Verismo), as in the operas Pagliacci, Caualleria Rusticana and La Boheme.  Vibrato became popular as a sensual enhancement of the vocal sound and became the throb in the heartbeat of Romantic style. It is inconceivable that an aria by Verdi or Puccini would be performed without vibrato.  In Opera, the type of vibrato varies from one culture to another. 
A slightly wider and slower vibrato is more typical of the Italian style of singing, compared to the faster and narrower vibrato of the French and German style.  Opera singers of the German style, especially when interpreting the operas of Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss, often use a straight tone, moving into a quick, narrow vibrato. The effect is a piercing, intense quality, well suited to the heroic roles of the late 19th century and early 20th century German Opera. Wagner wrote for the voice as if it were one of the instruments in the total musical fabric. 

Because of the tremendous size of the orchestra used in some of his works, the vibrato described above, coupled with a big voice, became necessary for projection.  This use of the vibrato assisted the singer in penetrating and soaring above the orchestra.   Great Wagnerian opera stars today still use this vibrato technique.

The more rapid vocal cord vibrato is typical of the contemporary style of the French chanteuse or cabaret singer, such as Edith Piaf. The Flamenco singer of Spain, as well as many of the Middle Eastern singers also use a fast vocal cord vibrato. Most Pop singers use a slower diaphragmatic or throat vibrato and sometimes a combination of both. Some modern Pop singers, particularly in Rock music, mostly in up tempo songs, use little or no vibrato.

The straight tone, used intermittently with a very slow and somewhat wide vibrato, is typical of the Japanese pop
singer. Not too long ago, when Howard had his studio in New York, he worked with two Japanese singers who were
sent to New York on a government grant to study voice and theater arts.  When they returned to Japan, they were complimented on their authentic American sound.  Their new vibrato control was one of the changes that made the difference. 

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The fully developed material is available in "Born To Sing" courses (CDs, tapes, videos & books) Produced by MusicWorld & the Vocal Power School - Howard Austin, Director mailto:VocalCoach@BornToSing.com 

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