In music, vibrato is the subtle oscillation between different pitches. The sound of vibrato, both in instruments and the human voice, can produce warmth and depth that sometimes exceed that of straight tone performance (where sustained notes do not wobble between pitches).\n\nThe pitch oscillation of vibrato should not exceed a semitone above or a semitone below the main note; any greater oscillation is technically a trill between two notes. Both rapid vibrato and slow vibrato are possible, depending upon a performer's technique.\nThere are several types of vibrato used as an instrumental and vocal technique.\n\n1. __Natural vibrato__: Natural vibrato is a naturally occurring pitch variation produced by an instrument or voice. In singing, natural vibrato comes from subtle pulsation in the airway—including the larynx, tongue, and epiglottis. In brass and woodwind instruments, natural vibrato can come from subtle alterations in airflow. On string instruments, natural vibrato can result from the gentle vibration of a string against the fingerboard.\n2. __Vocal trill vibrato__: This is a vocal vibrato technique that trills back and forth between two semitones. While trills are not true vibrato, they simulate the effect. Natural vibrato does not extend as far as a semitone. Pure vocal vibrato comes from subtle alterations in laryngeal airflow, although techniques like trilling can produce an artificial vibrato effect.\n3. __Diaphragmatic vibrato__: Diaphragmatic vibrato is a brass, woodwind, and singing technique produced by pulsing one's diaphragm while sounding a sustained note. This method only produces the illusion of natural vibrato and can weaken your airflow over the course of a performance.\n4. __Trillo caprino__: “Caprino” means "little goat" in Italian, and this rapid trill technique sounds a bit like a bleating goat. It is not true vibrato and may produce a distracting vocal tone.\n5. __Vocal wobble__: A singing vibrato that widely (and relatively slowly) fluctuates between pitches is called a vocal wobble.\n6. __Handshake vibrato__: Brass players, particularly trumpeters, can produce a vibrato effect by shaking their right hand while holding the instrument. This alters the instrument's contact with the mouth's embouchure.\n7. __Jaw vibrato__: Both singers and brass players use jaw vibrato—the quivering of lips, jaws, or tongue—to alter the pitch. Some singers call this the gospel jaw technique.\nThe terms “vibrato” and “tremolo” are sometimes used interchangeably, but the two words describe different aural phenomena.\n\n- __Vibrato is pitch variation__. An instrumentalist or singer's vibrato represents subtle fluctuations in notes. Graphically, vibrato changes the frequency of a waveform.\n- __Tremolo is volume variation__. The sound of tremolo represents slight fluctuations in volume. Singers can produce a tremolo effect by adjusting the airflow through their vocal tract. Instruments often produce tremolo using electronic effects found in pedals and amplifiers. Graphically, tremolo represents a change in the amplitude of a waveform.\n\nFamously, the whammy bar of some electric guitars is sometimes called a tremolo arm. This terminology is musically incorrect. Pressing and lifting the whammy bar produces an alteration in pitch, making the device a vibrato arm.\nMany instrumental performances involve vibrato. The usage and technique depend on the instrument.\n\n1. __Guitar vibrato__: Playing vibrato on a guitar involves subtly bending a string back and forth after striking it. Electric guitarists can also electronically produce vibrato using stompbox pedals or amp effects.\n2. __Electric bass vibrato__: An electric bass can produce vibrato using the same methods as an electric guitar.\n3. __Double bass, cello, viola, and violin vibrato__: The classic instruments of an orchestral string section make ample use of the vibrato technique. Steady, subtle vibrato helps string players sustain notes and create a full, lush sound.\n4. __Brass instruments__: Brass instruments produce different notes in accordance with the overtone series, and players control pitch by changing the embouchure of their lips on the instrument's mouthpiece. Still, it is possible to produce vibrato using the diaphragmatic method, the hand rocking method (also called a “shake”), or the jaw vibrato method.\n5. __Woodwind instruments__: Woodwind players—particularly flautists—may use diaphragmatic vibrato to alter airflow, and thereby the pitch of their instruments.\n6. __Voice__: Opera singers from soprano through bass tend to use vibrato in their most powerful chest voice. The subtle wavers of a vibrato singing voice can project over the sound of a full orchestra. In pop, jazz, and gospel music, vibrato creates a sensation of power and drama. Many top pop stars work with vocal coaches to improve the strength and consistency of their vibrato technique.\nA well-trained singer can produce vibrato in all parts of their vocal range, from the breathy high notes of their head voice to the resonant low notes of their chest voice. Work with a professional voice teacher to learn the proper vocal exercises and techniques to have reliable vibrato throughout your singing career. While you wait for your first singing lesson, you can use these tips to prep your vocal cords for vibrato.\n\n1. __Warm up to relax your airway__. Your larynx and vocal folds are more likely to produce natural vibrato if they are relaxed. Use steady breathing exercises and gentle vocal falls from your high head voice to your low chest voice as part of your warm-up.\n2. __Build up diaphragm control__. Your diaphragm provides the breath support you need to sustain sung notes. To help strengthen your diaphragm, try an exercise where you deeply inhale and then sing a note ending in “ee” (such as "meee" or "feee"). While you sing, place your flat palms on your diaphragm and push in with a gentle but steady pulse. Pulsing diaphragms don't produce natural vibrato on their own, but they can create the air pressure your voice will need.\n3. __Do vocal falls while altering the pitch__. Do the same vocal falls from your warm-up exercises, only this time try subtly oscillating pitch as your voice goes from high to low. Making an “oo” sound as you sing can help.\n\nNote that these techniques do not instantly produce vibrato—only airway vibrations can produce true vibrato. They help train your body and can be a supplement to in-person singing lessons.\n\nBecome a better musician with the [MasterClass Annual Membership](https://www.masterclass.com). Gain access to exclusive video lessons taught by the world’s best, including Christina Aguilera, Alicia Keys, St. Vincent, Usher, and more.\nThe powerful sound of vocal vibrato has elevated the art of many great singers.