Topic: Connection between Bocal, instrument, reed and vibrato.

Through my relatively short playing career so far, I've avoided vibrato for the most part, making sure that i only add vibrato to my sound and tone after i feel secure enough with fundamentals, being in my second year of a performance degree, i've been gradually enhancing and developing my vibrato.

Through some trial and experimentation with bocals and alternate instruments, i was simply astonished at the difference an alternate bocal and instrument setup plays on ease of producing vibrato, and indeed the quality of that vibrato.

I currently play a relatively dodgey Conservatoire Heckel CD no.1 (N) that isn't particularly fun to play but it pitches well with my reeds.

I recently got to test out a Heckel CC no.1 English (British) bend (Z) that was amazing to say the least However the biggest change i found was the vibrato. It came more naturally, Sounded with greater quality, and all in all, was more enjoyable to play.

My question is : What have other people found to this affect? Is the bocal the biggest change to vibrato (outside of the player) or have others found that the instrument itself and/or reeds contribute equally as much?

Many thanks in Advance,
Matthew Holzinger.

" Mozart tells us what it's like to be human, Beethoven tells us what it's like to be Beethoven and Bach tells us what it's like to be the universe." - D. Adams.

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Re: Connection between Bocal, instrument, reed and vibrato.

Hello Matthew, In response to your question:

>What have other people found to this affect? Is the bocal the biggest change to vibrato (outside of the player)
> or have others found that the instrument itself and/or reeds contribute equally as much?

Speaking of my own experience, vibrato is easier to produce when there is more resistance in the instrument. I base my opinion on experimenting with many different instruments using my own reeds with my own and other bocals.

Christopher Weait,
Principal bassoon, Toronto Symphony (1968 - 1985)
IDRS Honorary Member; Emeritus professor Ohio State University
www.weaitmusic.com

Re: Connection between Bocal, instrument, reed and vibrato.

Thanks Chris, I assumed that would be the case, but i felt compelled to ask anyway, just to see what others thought.
Also, in your experimentation with other bocals on your setup, do thick walled, or thin walled bocals produce more Resistance, and thus allowing for easier vibrato?

Thanks in Advance,
Matthew Holzinger.

" Mozart tells us what it's like to be human, Beethoven tells us what it's like to be Beethoven and Bach tells us what it's like to be the universe." - D. Adams.

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Re: Connection between Bocal, instrument, reed and vibrato.

Matthew - when I studied with Milan Turkovic many moons ago (commuted from Switzerland to Vienna), he had me stop all vibrato for one year! He felt that I needed to really concentrate on producing a beautiful, in-tune sound, with NO vibrato. Once I'd established a strong in-tune tone, he gradually had me add vibrato, but rather sparingly. His main example for vibrato was the impeccable violin playing of David Oistrach, who used vibrato, but again, rather sparingly. Although the Vienna Philharmonic bassoons use no vibrato at all, Milan (in the Vienna Symphony) did indeed incorporate this in his playing. I agree with him that vibrato can sometimes be used to try to cover a multitude of intonation problems, at times. Alles Gute - Jim

James Jeter, D.M.A., NYC Bassoonist
"To love human beings is still the only thing worth living for; without that love, you really do not live." Soren Kierkegaard
"Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it." Mahatma Gandhi  "Mach' es kurz! Am Juengsten Tag ist's nur ein Furz!" Goethe

Re: Connection between Bocal, instrument, reed and vibrato.

It seems like one of the most important things to achieve with vibrato is control over it -- knowing how and where to apply it, how slow or fast it is, and what effect it may be having in the music and on the listener. I seem to have a kind of "natural" vibrato, but more than one teacher over the years has commented that it sometimes makes me sound like I am "tense" or not really in control of the vibrato. For the last few months, I've tried to be on a kind of AA for vibrato, deliberately trying NOT to use it ("Hi, my name is Thom, and I can't control my vibrato."....). I think, but I'm not sure, that I've just started to really get some actual control over it. Good luck with your own endeavors!

To Chris's point about built-in resistance, my own humble experience seems to bear his idea out very well: I'm using thin-walled bocals right now, to try to learn how to control the vibrato (play without it), which seems a lot easier with a freer-blowing set-up. In a few months, perhaps, I will go back to a thicker-walled bocal and see if I can carefully add in appropriate vibrato.

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Re: Connection between Bocal, instrument, reed and vibrato.

Matthew, I can't answer about the difference between thick and thin-walled bocals.

The important determinants for me in a bocal are pitch level, ease of blowing and evenness of tone throughout the range. I want the same characteristics in my reeds. The instrument's resistance is a constant. I have had instruments that were "easier to blow" but have not been satisfied with them. Mind you, I'm not talking about a lot of resistance, just enough to allow me to play the way I want to. It appears to be important to the way the notes start.

A related issue is that slightly increased resistance also allows me to tongue faster and make extremely soft note starts, both critically important for an orchestral bassoonist.

Best wishes, Christopher Weait

Christopher Weait,
Principal bassoon, Toronto Symphony (1968 - 1985)
IDRS Honorary Member; Emeritus professor Ohio State University
www.weaitmusic.com

Re: Connection between Bocal, instrument, reed and vibrato.

Jim, I might not have been clear enough in my initial Post, I do use vibrato sparingly. Hence i blabbered on about not adding vibrato until i felt secure (or leaving it off if i dont' think its necessary).

I don't particularly like the sound of a wide, obvious or too fast vibrato, hence i was asking about the role instrumental setup plays in the production and control over it, and if indeed small changes influence the style, type or level of control to different degrees.

Chris, thanks for your comments on the resistance factor being of more crucial importance and critical in other areas that i didn't consider entirely ( I Tend to be a little "one track" minded sometimes)... for the past month that one track has been a skipping psychological  LP of Scales in 3rds,4ths,5ths and 6ths.... Perhaps this entire conversation about vibrato is my own way of rebelling against the evils of technical work... but anyway, thanks.

" Mozart tells us what it's like to be human, Beethoven tells us what it's like to be Beethoven and Bach tells us what it's like to be the universe." - D. Adams.

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Re: Connection between Bocal, instrument, reed and vibrato.

Matthew - didn't mean to 'preach' about not using vibrato; I just feel strongly about its use and misuse! I agree with Chris, regarding the slight resistance our bassoons can give, and how, for me, an easy-blowing bocal is a major asset in playing vibrato and everything else! Good luck - sounds like you're definitely on the right track. Jim

James Jeter, D.M.A., NYC Bassoonist
"To love human beings is still the only thing worth living for; without that love, you really do not live." Soren Kierkegaard
"Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it." Mahatma Gandhi  "Mach' es kurz! Am Juengsten Tag ist's nur ein Furz!" Goethe

Re: Connection between Bocal, instrument, reed and vibrato.

I was taught vibrato differently by several teachers.  My first college teacher, Ed Knob, who studied with Hugh Cooper used lip vibrato.  I did not continue trying to use that style for long but I have found it useful in trying to imitate the sound of a ringing bell on high notes.  Diaphragm vibrato was the technique taught to me most often, though most teachers thought that it probably involved the throat also.  My idea of vibrato is to change the intensity of the dynamics rather than the pitch.  If I do that correctly then I have to be flexible in my embochure.  If I blow more air I have to loosen up a little at each puff or the pitch will go sharp, especially with very intense vibrato.  I think the demands of the music, the style and drama involved, determine the amount of vibrato to be used more than just the type of instrument we play.  As far as not using vibrato, I was also taught it thoud be like a water hose nozzle that can be turned on and off, as well as having the intensity regulated.  My experience is the reed flexibility is as important, or perhaps more so, than the bocal in vibrato production.

Dale Clark
Clark Bassoon Reeds
http://clarkreeds.com
Bassoon Reed Making Blog: http://reedmaker55.bravejournal.com/

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