Skip to main content

David's Tip of the Day: Shake, Flutter, Tremolo & Vibrato Frequency - Part 2

David Barrett Admin's picture

If you listened to "My Blues" (Bending Study 4) very carefully you would have noticed that the tremolo, vibrato and flutter techniques did not lock to the beat in a simple way... like 2, 3 or 4 pieces to the beat. In other words, if a transcription artist didn't know anything about the harmonica, if you were to play your tremolo, vibrato or flutter as a triplet rhythm for example, they may actuality write the pitch that you're doing a tremolo, vibrato or flutter on as individual notes.

From what I can hear, the rhythm of these techniques is commonly 5 pieces per peat, and even more commonly 4.5 per beat (making it 9 pieces for every two beats). Whatever the count actually is... it floats... not locked to a specific rhythm. This is important for these techniques.

The shake on the other hand commonly does lock to the beat. Again, from what I can hear, in most cases it sounds like 6 pieces per beat in a shuffle rhythm... 4/5 shake = 4 5 4 5 4 5 for example. This is so you can be on the bottom note for each beat... very helpful for when you're using shakes to traverse up or down the harmonica using shakes (think Big Walter's "Easy"). Note that most players performing the shake commonly use a dip on the bottom notes (draw notes if we're speaking of the lower six holes)... again, you'll hear this dip on the downbeat.

Interesting, isn't it. Listen to "My Blues" again for this. I'll go to the original Pro Tools session it was recorded in and look at the wave forms... this will tell me definitively what the rhythm is. It will be fun to know exactly.