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I know this is a silly question, but I couldn't help but wonder it. Is there a way to play vibrato on the piano? If not are there pianos out there with this feature?

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    Very easy on a synthesized piano... Not so much on a real one! – topo Reinstate Monica Mar 21 '19 at 0:00
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    Indeed there are several electronic keyboards out there that have keys that are sensitive to finger motion and can be programmed to add vibrato. If you've ever watched Radiohead play on their Nord keyboards it'd be quite evident. – John Wu Mar 21 '19 at 4:32
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    Fender Rhodes through a Leslie produces a sort of vibrato. Impossible using an acoustic piano - unless the strings are tuned honky tonk style. – Tim Mar 21 '19 at 7:18
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Vibrato is impossible on the piano. The closest you could come is with the growling effect using the damper pedal, but this can be risky.

Vibrato is a standard technique on the clavichord, where it is called Bebung. This is possible due to the direct mechanical connection to the tangents which strike the strings. This possibility was a casualty of the development of the piano's escapement mechanism.

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In the era of extended techniques, nothing is truly impossible anymore. At the expense of a nice sound and precise pitch, you can change the pitch of the note you are playing by pressing a finger or a suitable object on the strings. Obviously, if you wiggle it around you get a sort of vibrato.

There are quite some modern pieces that require altering the pitch of strings like this, however I haven’t heard any that require vibrato.

Touching the strings with your fingers may cause them to rust.

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  • Are you sure that simply touching an object to the strings is able to change its pitch? Touching an object to a guitar string and sliding it around doesn't make it change pitch, except for the slide, in which case you need not only the slide object, but some other object behind it to dampen the other side of the string. And you'd also need to pluck the string somehow. Is that what you meant? – user45266 Nov 24 '19 at 20:37
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    @user45266 Well it is more or less what I meant but I tried it now and I can’t quite do it. I can get a higher pitch just by pressing my finger on the strings (you need to get all three depending on which register) but so far sliding around the string has proven difficult. Let me experiment a bit and I will come back to you tomorrow. (It is definitely possible, I saw someone do it.) – 11684 Nov 24 '19 at 20:45
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Whilst you cannot do vibrato on a conventional grand or upright acoustic piano, recent developments do make vibrato possible on the Fluid Piano. Too many details to list here.

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