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Saxophone Vibrato Question

by Neal

Hi Neal,
Thank you for your email.
As I am relatively new to playing the sax my head is buzzing with all the info  etc.I have heard the terminology of” Vibrato” & I was wondering where ,when & how you play it. Are You able to help Me.
Thanking you
Kind regards
Sue  D   from New Zealand

Hey Sue,
You’re welcome.  Vibrato is mostly a stylistic element.  So you can add as much or as little as you want.  Something like classical clarinet has no vibrato.  If you listen to Stan Getz play Brazillian jazz, it doesn’t have much vibrato either.  Most sax players do use some vibrato, but in their own way.

Violins & string instruments move their strings to create vibrato, sax players do it with the jaw.  Think of making a “wah-wah-wah” sort of sound.  An exercise I did early on, told to me by a teacher, was to do the “wah” thing as quarter notes, eigth notes, triplets, and then sixteenths.  It is somewhat mechanical, but will give you practice and once you have done it for a while you can start adding it into your playing more easily.

Listen to sax players that you like and see how they incorporate vibrato.

-Neal

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Evan Tate March 30, 2009 at 3:03 pm

Hi Sue,

Vibrato is created through a kind of “chewing” motion from the jaw (and not from the diaphragm as some believe). About the technicalities of vibrato (in classical music), it does depend on the meter of the piece being played, i.e. if it’s binary (4/4, 2/4) or ternery (3/4, 6/8). The vibrato speed would be perform in a multiplication of the meter. For example: if the composition is in 6/8 the vibrato pulse would be at least sixteenth notes pulsating on the eighth notes. In 4/4 meter, the vibrato follows again, the sixteenth note pulse with emphasis on the eighth note pulses.

In Jazz and Pop music, vibrato ranges from a lot, to a little to none at all. That is really a more subjective matter.

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