I do play flute and when long notes are held out, it is natural for a vibrato to appear. The extent (or intensity) of the vibrato is basically up to the individual player. This will vary from player to player.
And to be clear with terms, I think that for a flute we\'re really talking primarily about tremolo (amplitude modulation) rather than vibrato (frequency modulation), which is a secondary effect on that instrument.
It really depends of players\' preferences and schools. Some players just put tremolo everywhere they can, but when I play I prefer to choose where and how intense the tremolo will be, depending on the context.
And I assume that the tremolo for an ensemble is typically more restrained than that of a soloist - unless the conductor specifically asks for strong tremolo. But that\'s an assumption. I can barely play the darn thing :-)
\"Vibrato\" is a collective term covering oscillations of pitch, intensity or timbre that singly or in combination serve to enrich the musical sound (Neumann 1978: 521).
It\'s confusing terms. Tremolo vs. Vibrato in flute parts, that is. I\'m sure you all know the english word \"Vibrant\" [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]
If you write \"tremolo\" in your flute parts you\'ll without doubt get a question from the player. \"What? You mean like a flutter or rapid successive notes, trills on a minor 3rd ++ step?\"
Generally you don\'t write anything if you want the flutes to add a bit of vibrato. It\'s more or less done automatically, in my experience. If you don\'t want it you write \"non vib.\" and if you want heavy vibrato you can write \"molto vib.\" or \"espressivo\" - although they mean different things, their functions are very similar.
This goes for all woodwind instruments. With exception of the clarinet, they all add vibrato when there\'s nothing in the score. Professional musicians aren\'t robots, they\'re intelligent, musical people who know how to play their part by looking at the notes.
They spot a lyrical line - they add vibrato.
It takes but a few seconds to correct something if you don\'t like what they are doing.
Great points Thomas. From the performing artist side it\'s vibrato. However, on the technical-side it\'s tremolo. For instance, if you use a mod wheel and LFO, you want it to control the amplitude, rather than the frequency.
If we could gain all perspectives, we would be as gods :-)
Yes flute vibrato is complex. But isn\'t the most commonly heard vibrato from the breath, rather than the finger, and isn\'t the primary effect of breath-based vibrato amplitude modulation? Yes, the tone bends slightly as well, and there are timbral changes, but the primary effect that I hear is akin to tremolo.
I guess my point is that you can fake string vibrato with frequency modulation to a reasonable degree, but you wouldn\'t want to try that with a flute.