Definition of vibrato in US English:



  • A rapid, slight variation in pitch in singing or playing some musical instruments, producing a stronger or richer tone.

    ‘a clean, light sound without vibrato’
    Compare with tremolo
    • ‘The standard vibrato of the Boehm flute does give life to its tone, but it might be interesting to be able to vary pitch, volume, and timbre independently and simultaneously.’
    • ‘She scales back her vibrato and lightens her tone most appropriately for this repertoire.’
    • ‘The singers have good voices, singing clearly and accurately, using little vibrato in what has become the accepted style for Baroque vocal music.’
    • ‘The choir sings with refinement - and curiously, with not much vibrato - and the smallish orchestra is game and accomplished.’
    • ‘This is the flauto dolce indeed but never with that gawping vibrato that too many flautists, having seen the error of their ways and taken up the recorder, are apt to regale us with.’
    • ‘So I hooked up with a local violinist and asked him to play some of the music with strong vibrato, low to moderate vibrato, and zero vibrato.’
    • ‘His tone is lean without any of the thick vibrato so common from modern violins but entirely inappropriate for Mozart's music.’
    • ‘How did these women match their pitch, vibrato, and timbres with such precision?’
    • ‘Consistent vibrato was invented by Fritz Kreisler well into the twentieth century.’
    • ‘I never knew that Baroque music could be an option for me because I had only heard recordings in which it was sung with little or no vibrato.’
    • ‘Byrne sings without the usual intense operatic vibrato, and he sounds more heartfelt than ever.’
    • ‘I can hear how he's just so full of himself and his perfect pitch and vibrato that he doesn't even notice what a dreadful and boring song it is.’
    • ‘Her rapid vibrato, particularly above the stave, added a distinctive and not unpleasant color.’
    • ‘I went there and I started to sing with my faster vibrato, and I never re-sang the song.’
    • ‘He's probably the only recorder virtuoso to use vibrato to signify irony.’
    • ‘Pryce can sing very well; that is, not in the shouty vibrato that passes for singing in a lot of musical theatre.’
    • ‘Ms Iván's rapid vibrato and power is well suited to the operatic repertoire, a selection of which the duo performed in the second half.’
    • ‘The Véghs generally used less vibrato and more portamento than quartets that ascended in the 1950s and 60s.’
    • ‘Their vibrato and the tone it produced, among other things, was just utterly Romantic in nature and would make any good Baroque scholar cringe.’
    • ‘Slow, sustained and played with vibrato, this music has a raw power which builds gradually to a G major climax.’
    tremor, quiver, quaver, shaking, trembling
    View synonyms


Mid 19th century: Italian, past participle of vibrare ‘vibrate’.