Step # 11 Vibrato Techniques for the English Horn Player

The vibrato is the # 1 color effect for the English horn player.  A good vibrato begins by the player wanting to perform with a beautiful vibrato.  Some players develop their own unique vibrato, others do not play with much vibrato but have a beautiful sound, and others methodically work on techniques to improve their vibrato throughout their lifetime as an English horn performer.  Below are some techniques that may be helpful for English horn players who now do not play with a vibrato but would very much like to get started towards developing their own unique vibrato on English horn.

# 1

The first step in developing a natural beautiful vibrato on the English horn is to start vibrating just the English horn reed.  When you buzz the English horn reed you can vibrate a wide variety of sounds and a wide variety of pitches.  Like you articulate the whistle by sounding pitches high and low do the same with your English horn reed. You are trying to undulate the pitches from low to high using your air speed from very slow to very fast or from a very low pitch to a very high pitch.

# 2

Gradually develop a rhythm as your gradually slide the pitch from low to high and back to low.  Move the slide of the pitch using only your air to a slow tempo.  On each beat you will slide the speed of the air from slow to fast to slow and the pitch from low to high to low.  Try to do four beats of this sliding from low to high to low.   When you are comfortable with the sliding and the slow tempo, increase the tempo  slightly keeping the slide slow, fast, slow and the pitches low, high, low.

# 3

Increase the tempo to moderato with one complete undulation on each beat ( one undulation is low, high, low or slow, fast, slow air speed).  Once you are comfortable with this tempo finally increase your undulations to a fast tempo (mm=120).

# 3

At an allegro tempo group your undulations into groups of three, then four, and finally six.  You want to keep  the slide of the vibrato wide which means that the speed of each undulation will be at a slow tempo and the air speed of each undulation will be slow, fast, slow.  Depending on the solo you are performing, you will want to vary the speed of each undulation, and with each fermata with dynamics your undulations will vary.  In the beginning practicing slow undulations with wide sliding pitches using slow to fast air speed is the best practice for producing your desired result.

# 4

Be patient with your vibrato development.  Listen to singers-sopranos, altos, tenors, and basses.  Find a singer’s vibrato you like best and listen to their recordings.  The singers have the most natural vibrato.  Sometime young singers have the most pure-sounding vibrato that sounds the most natural and not contrived.  When musicians force the vibrato, the result is disappointing and can detract from the overall sound the player is trying to achieve.  I have heard professional English horn players say that the do not have a vibrato.  They just spin the sound.

# 5

The bottom line is the beautiful natural sound of your vibrato on English horn.  How you obtain it can be very personal, simple and not forced or strained at any time or in any way.  However, if you want a beautiful vibrato but at present do not have a vibrato hopefully, the above suggestions will be hopefully be  helpful in getting started towards a lifetime of developing your own personal vibrato of choice.

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