Amid a lively response to my recent article "The Record Effect," I've received several strongly worded letters and e-mails objecting to my — or, more accurately, Mark Katz's — account of violin vibrato in the early twentieth century. (For those who didn't read the piece, or have already forgotten it, Katz argues in his book Capturing Sound that violinists took to using continuous vibrato in the period between 1910 and 1920 partly or wholly because the oscillation in tone helped them to penetrate the primitive recorded medium.) There has apparently been some ensuing discussion in certain elite on-line forums. Katz does not claim, as one scholarly critic has him (and me) saying, that vibrato is a twentieth-century invention; that's obviously absurd. Nor does he propose Fritz Kreisler as the inventor of continuous vibrato. Indeed, he says quite the opposite: Kreisler was at first perceived as having been responsible for the rapid spread of the style, but there were deeper forces at work. And, while the picture was certainly more complex than you'd gather from my rapid paraphrase, I don't buy the counterargument that Joseph Joachim's classic 1903 recording, in which vibrato is used quite sparingly, is untrustworthy because the great player made it at an advanced age. True, Joachim was seventy-two and had only four years to live. But, to judge from a photograph taken of him that year, he was not infirm, and below the picture is a fine, flowing signature. And surely not even deteriorating health would have caused such an august musician to make a fundamental change in his practice. We really have no idea how violinists sounded before the phonograph arrived on the scene, but the fact that vibrato becomes progressively more pervasive on recordings from 1900 to 1920 — and that the likes of Leopold Auer and Carl Flesch remarked upon the trend — suggests that it was much less common in the nineteenth century than it is now. And Katz's explanation for the almost total victory of the "new style" still seems to me convincing. But, hey, I got no PhD.