What Is Vibrato and how do I develop it?

What is vibrato?  Vibrato is the “final stage” of a “release valve” of a well placed, stongly supported note, relaxing and resonating into a state of oscillation

Watch this introduction to vibrato video

What is vibrato?

Truth be known, vocal science really doesn’t know for certain.

And there is much debate on what its real function is.

From my 30+ years of professional singing I will tell you what I know it is for.

Vibrato “the final resting place” of a strongly supported, well placed whole tone, relaxing into a state of oscillation for a “final release valve” of resonance.

Let’s break this down a phrase at a time:

When we “hold a note” we can hold it with or without vibrato.

When that note has strong diaphragmatic support, the vowel placement is clear and unobstructed (in the throat), we can “relax” the vocal folds (cords) into a state of oscillation and “release” tension from holding the note.

This also bring about a natural increase in volume, without more pressure.

With that said, a debate on whether a note should oscillate above a whole tone or below a whole tone has also come into question.

There is little doubt in my mind that if vibrato is a relaxation response to a well supported, well placed whole tone, that it would naturally oscillate “under” the pitch of the whole tone – not above it.

Also: there are many different types of vibrato in width and speed of oscillation.

Some are fast, some are slow, some are wide and some are narrow. (there are many different names for different types of vibrato such as Natural, Wobble, Tremelo, Gospel Jaw, Goat’s Wiggle etc.)

The only real “healthy” vibrato is a natural vibrato. Others are contrived and don’t serve the purpose of a natural vibrato, though they are acceptable for different styles of singing for a desired effect.

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