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1. a slight, rapid, and regular fluctuation in the pitch of a note produced on a stringed instrument by a shaking movement of the hand stopping the strings
2. an oscillatory effect produced in singing by fluctuation in breath pressure or pitch



(1) A method of playing stringed musical instruments (those with necks); an even, regular vibration of the finger of the left hand on the string it is stopping. By periodically changing the pitch of the notes within small ranges, vibrato gives notes a special coloration and singing quality and increases their dynamic quality and emotional expressiveness. The use of vibrato dates back to the 16th and 17th centuries, to the performing art of lutanists and players of the viola da gamba; now it is used primarily with instruments of the violin family. Initially a unique kind of ornamentation in romantic music, vibrato has become an important way of achieving expressiveness.

(2) A method of playing certain wind instruments; a light opening and shutting of the valves and a change in the degree of intensity of the exhaled breath, causing a vibrating sound.

(3) A natural characteristic of a singer’s voice, which to a large degree determines its qualities of timbre, warmth, and expressiveness.



A musical embellishment that depends primarily on periodic variations of frequency which are often accompanied by variations in amplitude and waveform.
References in periodicals archive ?
He and his students made the first measurements of vibrato in many of the professional singers of the day--often using recordings.
The vibrato is still a topic that is likely to stimulate likely debate today: choral vs.
This volume is a digest up to date of the experimental studies made in the University of Iowa on the subject of the vibrato in music.
Sundberg identifies two kinds of vibrato production, one associated with the action of the cricothyroid muscle, and the other caused by undulations of subglottic pressure.
Vibrato can be separated into two principal classes of production.
A reflex mechanism with a long latency (greater than 40 milliseconds) is implicated as a plausible cause of vocal vibrato.
Lebon viewed vibrato as a characteristic of a tone quality that adds vibrancy and richness, suggesting that vibrato that calls attention to itself or is obtrusive becomes a negative attribute.
In the above description, Pfautsch described vibrato in simplistic terms that enabled the inexperienced singer to understand the phenomenon of vibrato.
By combining the lip and tongue vibratos on [ju] [ju] [ju], [jo] [jo] [jo], etc.
Although many of the vibratos described above may seem quite extreme, sonograms have revealed that the basic acoustic quality of the voice is altered surprisingly little.
This same principal applies to vibrato in the voice.
Because of the muscle antagonism involved in sustaining that position, and because of the oscillation of tension in the muscles as they flex and release in sympathy with the pulses of the bioelectric system that controls them, the tension of the vocal folds fluctuates causing a vibrato.