Date of Award

5-2017

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Departmental Honors

Department

Music

First Advisor

Christopher Scheer

Second Advisor

Sergio Bernal

Third Advisor

Kristine Miller

Abstract

The aim of this project is to help collegiate vocalists reconcile opposing views of applying vibrato to contemporary performances of early music. First, written materials, both modern and historical, were evaluated and compiled in a comprehensive review. Some early authors appeared to dislike vibrato-like qualities, while others believed them to be pleasant so long as they were used in moderation. Modern authors displayed an array of views about vibrato, with arguments ranging from "vibrato use only" to "straight-tone use only." They were found to generally base their opinions on vocal health and/or personal interpretations of historical data, though there was no apparent correlation between primary influence and opinion. In addition to reviewing literature, interviews regarding vibrato in early music were held with renowned musicians. Specifically, Emma Kirkby, Nicholas Clapton, and members of Stile Antico were interviewed at the Dartington International School in Totnes, UK, and Craig Trompeter and Craig Jessop were interviewed on campus at USU. It appears that these musicians share influences of vocal health, history, and expression when determining vibrato usage in early music. Like authors in the literature review, these musicians' arguments show no correlation between primary influence and consequential vocal practices. It was concluded that the use or lack of vibrato in early music is not inherent to the repertoire, but rather, changes from piece to piece depending on the values of the performer. By studying the values of authors and musicians evaluated in this project, collegiate vocalists may not only better understand conflicting directions they receive, but also begin to develop their own values and approaches to vibrato. In this way, singers may be able to make decisions about vibrato in early music that are both informed as well as personally authentic.

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