Monday, August 10, 2009

Vibrato vs Tremolo

my personal experience with these two words is that most everyone knows vibrato and uses it to describe the way opera singers sing. but i had never heard of tremolo until very recently when i came across it while trying to achieve a vibrato effect in audacity.

i started to wonder why the same effect had two different names so i started to inquire into tremolo vs vibrato via google. i only got to "tremolo v" and it autosuggested exactly what i was looking for. it turns out i was incorrectly assuming the two words were the same. the auditory difference is very subtle but the definition is quite clear.

vibrato, italian for vibration, is the rapid fluctuation in pitch, while
tremolo, also italian (arent all musical words?) means "trembling," and while it can refer to rapid strumming or drumming, it more generally means a rapid fluctuation in amplitude.

the more i think about it, im not sure i can tell the difference when i hear an opera singer who is using vibrato (yet further investigation shows it clearly is):

1 comment:

  1. Wow I'd never come across the term "tremolo," even though I worked with musical vernacular for 12 years. That's really interesting. And you are right - it's hard to tell the difference between when a note is swiftly changing between loud and slightly softer or high and slightly lower. I was listening to your clip and trying to figure out how it would sound different one way vs. the other. Couldn't do it. Thank you for the weekly vocabulary lesson! :)