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MMD > Archives > October 1999 > 1999.10.13 > 08Prev  Next

Tremolo and Vibrato
By Craig Brougher

Regarding tremolo and vibrato technical discussions, I think we will
probably find that everybody is right about it.  Whether a violinist is
undulating the pitch with his finger on the string, or a pipe organ is
Tremming the melody, I can't imagine vibrato without tremolo and vice
versa.  It all seems to work together anyway.

An engineer may say, "we have two ways of creating the effect musicians
call vibrato and so we will separate them and give them their own
names" but practically, they work together.

Some may wonder a bit how tremolo would be created by varying the pitch
of a violin string, but it is, because as the pitch rises and falls,
that particular string also gets louder and softer.  That's just the
way it works.  It is impossible to prevent it for several reasons, but
mainly because of the interference of standing waves which dampen and
then reinforce, and then re-dampen the one freq. and then the other.
So volume rises and falls correspondingly to the pitch.

Violin pipes respond realistically to "tremolo" in an organ or orches-
trion, but as Art Reblitz has already said, "Even expert musicians
sometimes cannot tell the difference between those wooden frein violin
pipes and the real thing, yet their tremolo works differently than a
real violin's.  But just as their pressure falls and rises, so also
does their pitch and their volume--exactly like real violins do.

I think that tremolo is synonymous with vibrato, since they always
occur together in acoustic instruments.  Thus, it really isn't wrong to
say something is tremolo when the emphasis is on the vibrato, and vice

I have a pretty good Mills Violano playing at my web page and all who
want to hear how the Mills can (and did) sound with a realistic tremolo
that doesn't go overboard, but sounds "human" should try it.  Here is
what I think a good Mills sounds like.  The violin is sweet and rich
and very clear without bow noise, with a natural vibrato which is not
too deep.  The address is

The human voice has a natural vibrato which people like to hear, and
since the violin is very similar to the human voice, it does well to
have a vibrato of about the same repetition rate.

Craig Brougher

(Message sent Wed 13 Oct 1999, 16:01:37 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Tremolo, Vibrato

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