Into It: Tremolo

Jan 17, 2012

What is perhaps the most basic musical effect, tremolo—the undulation of volume—has a remarkable history that has yet to be fully documented.

The formal use of tremolo dates back to the 16th century when orchestral shuddering was marked on the page by three lines through a note’s stem and executed by trained bows.

In America, tremolo has long been present in the natural wobble of accordions and harmonicas. In modern electronics, however, tremolo has only been on the map since the 1930s, when it began frequently appearing in organs.