How To Sing With Vibrato – 6 Tips and Full Video Tutorial

What is “Vibrato” for singing and why does it matter?

A true natural vibrato is the “final resting place” of resonance for a strongly supported, whole tone, “relaxing” into a state of oscillation, creating maximum resonance.

There are many debates as to whether the oscillation of vibrato should be above the whole tone or below it.

This author is a firm believer the the oscillation must be “below” the whole tone since its purpose and function is a relaxation response. Going above the whole tone would not promote a relaxation response.

Vibrato is a very personalized “signature” for the voice.

And there are many different types of Vibrato.

It also can be a key to determine the health of one’s voice.

And/or it also may be used as an “effect” for different styles and types of singing.

As we explore how to become a better singer, vibrato plays an important role in the resonance of the voice.

Let’s first explore the different types of Vibrato for singing.

1) Diaphragmatic vibrato is characterized by diaphragmatic pulsating during a sustained tone. This type of vocalizing generally produces a tremolo effect which is not healthy and hard to get away from, once it has been embedded. The breath should flow evenly and not be subject to a “pulse” of the diaphragm. This is usually heard from the “herculean” roles of a big tenor or a big soprano role.

2) A Vocal Trill vibrato is often taught through through vocal training of matching pitch to the ones played either on piano or guitar usually in a half or full step toggles from the original pitch, to a half step and back again. This can result into a “Wobble” which becomes very wide and slow and directly affects absolute pitch. Its oscillation is slower than a healthy vibrato, which has much less pitch differentiation.

3) The Laryngeal vibrato, or being manipulated from the larynx (voice box) is also not a good idea since the voice box should stay stable while singing. Its task should not be to manipulate vibrato. This is often referred to as “Gospel Jaw” or “Jaw Vibrato” where the jaw moves up and down. This can be witnessed in singers such as Whitney Houston or Steve Perry.

4) Caprino vibrato in Italian means goat-like (wiggle) or “little goat.” This is a fast and nervous-sounding vibrato. Many artists have made this sound famous such as Stevie Nicks or Manhatten Transfer (with a quick “horn stab” sound)

5) A “Tremolo” vibrato has a faster oscillatory rate and is usually “wider” than a natural vibrato. Artists such as Aaron Neville have made this sound famous.

6) A “Natural” vibrato is where one can hold a note and “relax” into a state of oscillation. It also provides for greater volume when singing without adding pressure (resonance).

Some believe that vibrato just “happens naturally” and requires no vocal training. This author does not believe that. In order to become a better singer, everything we do with our voice, if we are looking to do it correctly, requires vocal training.

So whether one is looking to increase vocal range, learn better vibrato, and more, it is a good idea to get with a quality vocal coach and get competent vocal lessons on your journey to great singing!

Ken Tamplin Vocal Academy – Where The PROOF Is In The Singing!


Transcript:
Hey guys, welcome back again to Ken Tamplin Vocal Academy, where the proof is in the singing! We got a lot of requests for this. It’s how to do by vibrato. Well, before we discuss how to do vibrato, I think it’s really important to understand what vibrant auto is, and what it isn’t. Now, even the medical community differs on this a bit, because they are still not sure what by vibrato really is. But as a singer of 30 years, and 40 records out, close to 1000 songs placed in film and TV, and touring the world for 30 years, I want to share with you from a singer’s perspective what I know vibrato to be. Okay?

The first thing is, is we need to have really good diaphragmatic support. If you don’t know what that means, please check out my video on diaphragmatic support. Because without it, it’s the cornerstone for great vibrato. That’s the first thing. So it’s a firmly supported breath, a breath that comes up into the throat, into a good open throat vowel, that is a well-placed vowel relaxing into a state of oscillation. Fancy words. A state of vibrato. A state of oscillation, okay? Now were going to get into some of this stuff in a minute, but I want to clarify this, so let’s do this one more time.

It’s a strongly supported breath, that has enough strength to sustain a relaxation response to a well-placed vowel that relaxes into a state of oscillation. And this actually expands all the way into resonance, by the way, we’re going to cover some of that here, and I’m going to do a whole video on residents, as well. But I just want to kind of clarify that. So that’s what by vibrato is. Let me tell you what by vibrato isn’t. Now, I’m going to break down some different by broad does, and I want you to understand that not, just because vibrant auto is maybe, contrived, or it’s something that’s used stylistically, doesn’t mean it’s bad. It’s just not a healthy by vibrato. It’s just contrived or it’s used for a different purpose, okay?

So, let me get into diaphragmatic by vibrato first. So, diaphragmatic vibrato, which, again, these are all, let’s call them “no-no’s” but that they’re used maybe in a style or something. Diaphragmatic fiber auto is Hey-ey-ey-ey… You hear my, see my stomach Hey-ey! Moving? And I’ve got my diaphragm. So, it’s a pulsating diaphragmatic support system that’s forcing this contrived by vibrato. Now, in fairness, there’s a lot of people that use this. I’m going to use this as an example: Aaron Neville does this, right? You know he does this thing, right? But what happens is is the whole tone is loud, and then when it oscillates, you lose volume. Right? And it’s this huge mechanism moving. It’s not creating a natural response for vibrato because it’s supposed to be going to a state of relaxation response, right? Well, so that he’s made a career of this and I’m not dissing Aaron. I love Aaron’s voice. But he’s chosen that as a style. And I want to get into other people who have chosen other vibrato’s as a style.

I don’t know if they can do a natural by vibrato and they’ve kind of groomed themselves to end up with the vibrato that they have and so they, their signature, by the way our vibrato is our signature, sort of our, you know, our signing off on the end note, so to speak, right? So, let’s kind of get our brain around that. So, anyway, next one is a vocal trill vibrato, and that’s also important. Because, if we do this, it’s taught like this. So, and I’ll even do this, too, I’ll teach this kind of initially. You take a whole tone, take this whole tone and go “Aye, aye..” And we take that and we speed it up. Right? And we try to get a natural response out of that. Nothing wrong with learning it that way, so long as you don’t stay and hover and stay and have that be your natural Vibrato. Now, that could develop into a vocal wobble. And to be very stiff on the vibrato itself. And there’ll be stiffness. You know, be real stiff on the sound? Well we want a relaxation response. Again, a strongly supported, diaphragmatic fully supported breath. Right? Not a bad thing.

Now this begs a pretty big question here. If you notice, I started on a whole tone, and then I went down semi tone, and I toggled between the two. Well, there’s a big debate even on where that toggle should happen. There’s a very very famous vocal coach. He’s the leader of SLS in fact. And he claims that the vibrato should be above the line. Well if that’s true, how could it possibly be a relaxation response? In fairness, there are a lot of people that use that vibrato. Let me give you some examples. Elton John. Freddie Mercury. They have a vibrant auto that is above the line. Right? But a true or a natural vibrato, I believe, goes below the line. And you’re saying Ken, oh my gosh, you barely started, all this information, I didn’t know it was this complicated! Well, I’m just trying to give you guys good information so you know how we can get to our end game, which is a good natural vibrato. So…
And we’re going to get into some other vibratos where some people do it too big…
And they have a real big vibrato. We’re going to get into that in a second.

So a laryngeal vibrato, or a larynx vibrato, where the larynx is moving, which is your voice box, the larynx is moving, and you’re shifting the larynx up and down, and you’re actually contriving, or fabricating vibrato using the larynx. Well, that is absolutely not a healthy vibrato. I wouldn’t recommend that especially because the larynx should stay pretty stable throughout our singing. Sometimes will lowered a little bit for a low note. Sometimes will raise it to use, you know, kind of a sexy, you know, girthy thing in the throat, whatever. But for the most part, we really want that larynx to stay stable. That’s very very important.

The next thing is gospel jaw, or jaw vibrato. Now, gospel jaw is kind of funny because there’s a couple of people out there I’m going to give a couple of examples right now. Whitney Houston is one. Where you know… And they have this jaw movement. Steve Perry from journey does the same thing. And he moves his job, right? To create this response. That’s also a contrived response. But in Whitney’s case, and in Steve’s case two, if you really listen closely, it’s almost like they’ve got a pretty cool natural vibrato already working for them, and they are kind of doing that more for an effect. It’s not something they have to do to get the vibrato to work. So be a little careful. I’ve done that to kind of for showmanship and just for fun. You know, I’ll do that, again, as an effect. I’ll do it to sound like someone else or to look for another style within a different vibrato. So, but that’s still not a healthy by vibrato. We don’t want to go… With our jaw. Because that’s not gonna help us with our consistency and ending up to a relaxation response with a natural by vibrato, okay?

The next one is caprino vibrato. Now, Caprino, it’s like an Italian word for goat. Goat like. Or Goat’s wiggle, or little goat in Italian. Now that’s “eh-eh-eh-eh-eh…” Right? Let me put this back here.

Again, people have made entire careers on this. I’m not dissing other people’s styles. Stevie Nicks. Right? She’s got that real fast goat’s wiggle. Well, a lot of people have that. And that’s actually a very unhealthy vibrato. It’s very nervous, and it’s just real tight, and there’s nothing of, there’s no real relaxation response to that. By the way, too. There’s a lot of people that have this and I’m going to use another example of someone. You guys might know of a band called Manhattan transfer. They’re a phenomenal, like jazz, especially a cappella, jazz band.

They do a vocal stab caprine, which is: and they’ll do like these kinda cool like horns stabs, like a horn. Well, that’s an effect. You know, you listen to them, and then you listen to their regular vibratos, so they know how to, they have total command of their vibrato like I do here. And I can emulate different vibratos to give you an example, then I also can rest or relax into a natural state of vibrato.
Now, vocal wobble. Now we talked about a little bit of vocal trills. Vocal trills can actually become a vocal wobble. Where the whole body kind of shakes. Right? Well, in fairness, you know if you think of someone like Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden… You know, he’s got this really wide vibrato. That’s his style, and it’s cool, you know. Bruce is Bruce. And he’s awesome! So, again, it’s a style, but it’s not a natural vibrato. And it’s very important to differentiate this.

The tremolo by vibrato which is similar to a trill vibrato is also like a trill but it’s a little faster. So you’re kind of having to do the toggling back and forth between two notes. That is actually a faster version of that, which is also unhealthy. So, but what then is natural vibrato and how do we get it? This is really important. And, by the way, natural vibrato converts into a state of residence where we can actually lean into a sound, and we get a lot of volume out of something without forcing, or pushing too much air. So I just show you if I go… I’m taking a nice, strongly supported sound, and because I have strength in my abdomen, I can relax my chest, my neck, and my throat, and I can start to roll into this.

Now again. I can’t in this one video, tell everybody how they can all do by vibrato because people’s voices are different, and there oscillation rate is different. In their width of their oscillation rate is different. So, I cover all of this in my singing course called How to Sing Better Than Anyone Else, but I just want to give you guys an overview, a Reader’s Digest version so to speak of how we get to this. So, we can start with something: and we can gently kind of work our way and relax our way into the sound.

Now, you’re going to start with this in a minute and then you’re going to go gosh this is so frustrating. I can get one or two trills, or I can get a couple of them, and then it stops working! Reset. Get your breath together. Come back again. And you can relax into a state of oscillation. Okay? Now let’s remember. This is a relaxation response. It’s not meant to be forced. It’s not meant to, you know, plow through. Now again. I want to cover this one more time. People say you should be able to have natural vibrato. You shouldn’t have to work at it. Okay. Like I said, I came out of my mom’s womb just with natural by vibrato. Well, I haven’t found that to be true. I found that once I understand the mechanism, how it’s all supposed to work together, that I can relax into a state of vibrato.

Now, we might like a singers by vibrato, a certain singer’s vibrato that we love and we want to emulate that. There’s nothing wrong with that. But let’s learn a true natural by vibrato first. Now, I promised one more thing which was about resonance, and I want to sing a high note like on an EE vowel or something for second. When we can get to that place where we have a real strong supported breath. Relaxing the chest relaxing the neck relaxing the throat, we can actually have a paying, a brightness, a resonance into the sound. Now you probably watched a bunch of YouTube videos and you probably hear resonators and resonance, and all this resonance resonance resonance! Well, it’s kind of funny because the vibrato is perfect! You go: EEEEEEEEEEEEEE! Right? I can relax into a state of oscillation, and because of that resonance takes over, I’ve got really good cord closure and good support, I can relax into a sound without having to force or oversing the sound, keeping the throat open. Remember that good vowel placement of open throat technique so I can relax into, like hitting an amphitheater of sound, where it pushes that sound and vibrates and resonates. Everywhere. Okay? Thank you guys for joining me. Ken Tamplin Vocal Academy, where the proof is in the singing! And until next time. Peace. Out.

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