We have seen that on the recorder tremolo grades almost imperceptibly into vibrato and that aurally the following are but convenient points on a continuum:

  • tongued tremolo
  • flutter-tongued tremolo
  • uvular tremolo
  • aspirated tremolo/vibrato
  • diaphragmatic vibrato
  • finger vibrato
  • labium vibrato

However, technically it is possible to combine certain of these effects so that they can reinforce or work against each other. Thus one might combine finger vibrato and aspirated vibrato, for instance. Further, the effects discussed here can be combined with others to give new and exotic sounds, e.g. combining flutter-tonguing with trilling or tremolando, used to striking effect by Richard Harvey of Gryphon. However, attempting to combine flutter-tonguing with an uvular tremolo might land you in hospital!

Notwithstanding the hints given above on several particular uses of aspirated tremolo/vibrato, it is impossible to lay down general rules for the distribution of either tremolo or vibrato. Although Hotteterre (1708) bids us: “Observe that it is necessary to make flattements on almost all long notes, and to do them … slower or quicker according to the tempo and character of the piece”, one should keep in mind his earlier dictum (Hotteterre, 1707) that “It is taste and practice which teaches their appropriate use, rather than theory.”

This latter view is echoed by Rowland-Jones’ (2003) comment that:

The detailed application of vibrato and volume variation to phrasing cannot be explained in words; it stems from musicianship, that quality partly inborn, partly bred of enthusiasm, self-criticism, study, and a sense of tradition.

Inherent in all such opinions is the message that much can be learned by experimenting oneself and by listening critically to authoritative playing on any instrument whose tone is not produced mechanically.

References cited on this page

Cite this article as: Lander, Nicholas S. 1996–2024. Recorder Home Page: Tremolo & Vibrato: Conclusions. Last accessed 14 July 2024.