Ocarina Tip: Play With Vibrato
Vibrato is the pulsating fluctuation in the pitch and speed of a note. It can add a beautiful dimension to your music, giving shape to your sound. Vibrato sounds like waves, giving melodies a personal and vocal aspect to them.
Audio example of a note without vibrato:
Audio example of a note with vibrato:
Vibrato can be produced many ways. Vocal chord vibrato is achieved by rapidly fluttering your vocal chords, as if you were making the sound of a machine gun, whereas throat vibrato is the manipulation of the throat muscles to pulsate the larynx. The recommended method of incorporating vibrato with your ocarina is by utilizing diaphragmatic vibrato. Diaphragmatic vibrato is exactly what it sounds like– using your abdominal muscles to create a fluttering pattern in your notes.
If you read and practiced the exercises in our blog on strengthening your diaphragm, using your stomach muscles to surge your notes should be relatively easy.
Place your hand over your stomach and laugh with a great big, “HA HA HA HA HA”, creating a series of short, punchy sounds. You should feel your diaphragm pumping each of the “HA”s. One you’ve done this a couple times to get the feel, pick up your ocarina and do the same thing while playing it. Slowly try to build your “HA”s into a single note, “HA HA HA, HA-HA-HA, HA-A-A-A, HAAAAAA”.
Apply this to quarter notes, then eighth notes, triplets and finally, sixteenth notes. In this progression, as you speed up, you will begin to create organic vibrato rather than having to push each vibration. As you practice, try out different tempos. Make sure not to puff your cheeks and don’t worry about how the notes sound, what matters is building your muscles. Learning vibrato doesn’t come over night, so be patient and remember practice makes perfect.
Mr. Songbird discovered vibrato by singing scared! I decided to give it a whirl!
The use of vibrato in music varies from genre to genre. Some styles of music such as Classical and Jazz use vibrato often, whereas Baroque never uses it. Vibrato utilization is also different all over the world. For example, traditional Italian ocarina music uses a lot of vibrato but using vibrato with Indian instruments, such as the bansuri, is totally taboo.
Here is a sample of the Italian ocarina from the film, 1900 with Robert DeNiro.
How’s your vibrato?
What ways do you practice?
Share your vibrato tips in our comment section!