Which vibrato should you use for jazz violin?


Which vibrato should you use for jazz violin?

In jazz, you don’t necessarily want the same type of vibrato as in classical! The aesthetics of jazz and classical are different, and because of this the vibrato sounds different. In gypsy jazz, you can nevertheless use a vibrato closer to the classic vibrato, stylistically it works better than on jazz.


When and how to use vibrato:

Whether for jazz or gypsy jazz, the important thing is above all to use vibrato sparingly! The idea is to really consciously choose which notes to put vibrato on, and that this vibrato has a musical purpose. To achieve this, the first thing to do is to be able to play without any vibrato at all, in order to get rid of automatically adding vibrato where it’s not needed. Only then can we reintegrate the vibrato into our playing and decide on which notes we want to place it so that it makes sense musically.


Which vibrato technique to use:

You can use the classic vibrato technique you know, slowing it down and making it less wide. If you listen to saxophonists or trumpeters, they will have a much slower and lighter vibrato; personally, I am inspired by these instruments to use a vibrato with a more jazzy color. It’s also a question of taste and color. If you prefer to stay in the very classical violinistic vibrato, it’s up to you since jazz is a music that allows you to make your own choices! And once again, in gypsy jazz, which is closer to traditional music and the singing gypsy violin, the more classic vibrato works very well.


3 tips for having a more jazzy vibrato


1. How to make a saxophone-like vibrato

To make a slow vibrato, for example on a ballad, the movement I use comes from the wrist. You can try in third position, it’s easier! The fingers remain flexible like springs, the arm does not create the vibrato wave.


2. How to end phrases with vibrato

Using ghost notes you can make a tighter jazzy vibrato which is also nice for jazz and gypsy jazz. We transform the note that ends a phrase into a ghost note, practice by playing half notes and releasing finger pressure to transform the note into a ghost note, and add vibrato to the ghost note.


3. Imitate the vibrato of other instruments

I strongly advise you to listen to instruments other than the violin in jazz or gypsy jazz, and try to imitate their vibrati in order to find your own vibrati! Gypsy guitar, saxophone, trumpet, clarinet, or singing… It’s good to learn from anything, as long as you like it! By picking up vibrati from other instruments, you can further detach yourself from the automatic vibrato that you know, and find several kinds of vibrati to use, always with parsimony!


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