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Jazz Sax Lessons: Using Vibrato

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Okay, let's talk
now about vibrato.
This is one of the most important
ways to express yourself.
To change your inflection
of how you play to get
your romantic point across.
It's not always romantic actually but
[LAUGH] sometimes it is,
depending on how you use it.
So, let me give you a couple
of examples just to listen to.
Here we go.
So with
that vibrato,
I'm using more
of my lip.
It's a slower vibrato.
It's obviously more vocalish.
That's a good point too,
that whenever you are using a vibrato,
you're really kind of emulating
your voice, emulating a singer so
as you play with vibrato think about that,
don't think about how it sounds
when you're playing a saxophone.
Think about how it sounds if
you were actually singing and
in fact I won't embarrass you to
send me any videos of you singing.
And I'm not gonna embarrass myself
by singing with some vibrato.
I will spare you that awful, awful idea,
but that's the analogy,
that's the thing you wanna be
copying when you're using vibrato.
The other vibrato would be more
of an air sort of vibrato.
They're both interchangeable.
I was going to say that a vibrato
that's a little bit more silky,
more ballad-like would be one where you're
kind of massaging the reed with your lip.
And the more aggressive one would be one
that you're using more with your air.
But they are definitely interchangeable.
But one where I'm just using my air
usually would be a bit more for
me one that I used more
than something more funky.
So to me the air vibrato
tends to be a little bit
more a little faster,
it just that's sort of
the natural way that that
vibrato presents itself.
And so a faster vibrato as a sax player,
in my opinion,
it's gonna be one that's gonna be used,
in a more aggressive sort of a format.
So, let's talk about how
to produce those two, okay?
As far as you lip is concerned, basically,
all you're doing is,
sort of massaging the reed up and down.
Less is more.
In terms of the motion that you're doing,
the changes of your embouchure,
less is more.
Mantra that for yourself.
So if your vibrato was sounding like,
I'm using my E by the way.
If your vibrato was sounding
like unless you're playing
in a 40s swing band I would
advise against that vibrato.
Again, less is more.
Subtle is good.
all I'm doing very subtly is just
bringing my lip up and down.
So for just about all my jazz inflections
I use the rubber band analogy where
a tight rubber band is your sound, and
what's keeping the rubber band tight is
your air and so all you're doing is just
kinda pushing that rubber band down.
The thing you want to definitely avoid
is suddenly when you're going from
a sound with no vibrato to a sound
with vibrato is to go into
suddenly this other sound and
that sort of defeats the purpose.
The whole point of all
these inflections is for
them to be apparent but subtly apparent.
And that is definitely true with vibrato.
So in this case,
I'm not changing my air whatsoever.
In fact, I'm keeping that air forward.
Doesn't mean you have got to play louder.
Again, it's not the speed of your
air that creates your sound.
The speed of your air creates the dynamic,
the volume.
It's the volume, the amount of air
you are creating that supports your
sound and keeps it nice and full.
So keep that support,
that volume of air steady,
that support from your diaphragm steady
and we're just using our embouchure,
in particular just your bottom lip.
And that way,
your sound is gonna stay even.
Also, when
you're listening
to different singers
Ella Fitzgerald,
all kinds of great
jazz singers.
Very often Frank Sinatra is a great
example actually of a way to use vibrato
where you establish the note totally
purely and then introduce the vibrato.
Instead of hitting the vibrato right away,
when you're doing that,
you know that might work.
That's cool too.
But, with all inflections, it has to come
from here and it has to come from here.
I should have said that
in reverse actually.
It should come from here first.
Because if it comes from here,
I should actually say it comes from here
because you want to be listening
to the melody in your heart,
and emulating that.
If we're thinking too much here, frankly,
then it's going to be more mechanical and
the emotional result is not gonna
be what you probably intended.
So, there again it's a great idea to,
in your head,
sing an idea for yourself, and listen
to yourself singing and emulate that.
And sometimes that calls for having
a note unaffected and then affected.
So now let's talk about an air vibrato,
where you're using your diaphragm.
I wanna
show you how
to do that.
I tend to use more of my embouchure.
It's just more controllable.
But, you might find this something that
is useful, and I definitely do it.
But anyway, all I'm doing playing very
subtly, that's my catchphrase for
this lesson, is moving my diaphragm,
just kind of flexing and unflexing.
Not so much a real difference in
loud soft, loud soft, loud soft.
That's gonna be too hard to control,
and it's not going to sound good.
But it's more of a flexing and
unflexing of your diaphragm.
So imagine, [LAUGH],
it's hard to do this on video,
but, I'm kind of feeling,
pushing my diaphragm and then letting go.
Pushing my diaphragm and letting go.
That's a good exercise for
your stomach I guess.
But try that, okay?
Right now, just try to kinda
push forward and release.
So it is you don't wanna consciously
move your air back and forth.
Obviously that is the result.
But if you think about actually
moving your loud, soft, loud, soft.
Your not gonna get the desired effect.
It's more again of flexing and
unflexing the diaphragm.
So let's do a couple together, okay?
Let's do some lip vibratos.
The first one I'm going
to do four longer notes.
I'll use my B, okay?
You guys can do the same.
Here we go.
You do it.
You do it.
Your turn.
Okay, so again it's a motion of
the note itself, not the note,
some weird sound, the note,
some weird sound.
And it's subtle.
Now lets do some diaphragm or
air vibratos together, here we go.
Your turn.
All right so
those are the two vibratos I like to use.
And like I've mentioned
listen to other examples
of vibrato and try to emulate those.
Always have the idea of the sound in
your head that you want to create.
And don't go beyond what
you're hearing in your head,
don't do things just because you're
doing them for technical reasons.
Make sure you're getting
to your end result.
Okay, go for it.
Like always, if you've got any issues or
questions, or
you're not quite happy with your vibrato,
film yourself doing some vibratos.
Play a song, play a note, anything.
And send me that video, and
I will respond in kind.
All right.
Good luck.