# Harmonic notation in Portrait of Tracy

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Nick Gann, Jan 19, 2003.

1. ### Nick GannTalkbass' Tubist in Residence

Mar 24, 2002
Silver Spring, MD
I am learning Portrait of Tracy. I have the notation of the song, but the notation of the harmonics are a bit confusing to me.

This excerpt is the first phrase. I know the diamond notes are harmonics. As I understand it, their position in the staff tell me where on the fretboard to play the harmonic, and the letter below the staff tells me what note it is actually producing. Am I correct?

2. ### godoze

Oct 21, 2002
i think that is telling you which string to play the harmonic on...

3. ### Nick GannTalkbass' Tubist in Residence

Mar 24, 2002
Silver Spring, MD
Oh. Duh.

4. ### oneoftheway

Nov 27, 2002
Hey where did you get the sheet music for this song

Thanks

5. ### Nick GannTalkbass' Tubist in Residence

Mar 24, 2002
Silver Spring, MD
I got it from a friend who has a transcription book. You can get the trancsription books from Amazom.com, where I am ordering mine from today.

Here is a page that has a few different transcriptions of Jaco's.

http://www.jacopastorius.com/music/transcriptions.asp

6. ### JimK

Dec 12, 1999
That transcription is approximating the postion of the harmonic.
Example: Beat 2's "F"-Natural on the "D"-string.
It's not exactly where you would play an "F" on the "D"-string...it's a skosh 'higher' than the 3rd fret on the "D"-string.
Note you can play multiple harmonics between the frets.
Example:
Play these 5 harmonics on the "G"-string. They should sound like you're playing these notes G-F-D-B-G...
All on the "G"-string-
Call this A
A)1st finger plays harmonic @"somewhere between the 2nd & 3rd fret"...CLOSER to the 2nd fret. If you have a dot on yer bass, it's somewhere between that dot & the 2nd fret. Should 'sound' like a "G"

Call this B
B)2nd finger plays the harmonic @"somewhere bewteen the 2nd & 3rd fret...but this time it's CLOSER to the 3rd fret. Should 'sound' an "F".

Call this C
C)3rd finger plays harmonic @"somewhere between 3rd & 4th fret...CLOSER to the 3rd fret(similar to the 1st harmonic played above, just a fret UP).
Should 'sound' like a "D".

Call this D
D)4th finger plays on the "B" note's 4th fret...should 'sound' like a "B".

Call this E
E)4th finger plays on the "C" note's 5th fret...should 'sound' like a "G".

This is the basics for "Tracy's" intro-
First 4 notes(played rapidly)
1)Harmonic @E on "G"-string
2)Harmonic @A on "G"-string
3)Harmonic @B on "D"-string
4)Harmonic @A on "A"-string

...the next 4 notes are played identically except you start the pattern on the "D" string(working yer way down to the "E"-string).

Confoozed?

7. ### Nick GannTalkbass' Tubist in Residence

Mar 24, 2002
Silver Spring, MD
Yes, but getting there. Thanks a lot Jim.

I can get "C","D" and "E", that is the ~3.5, 4 and 5th fret harminics. "A" and "B" ones are giving me trouble.

Thanks for explaining it to me

8. ### Nick GannTalkbass' Tubist in Residence

Mar 24, 2002
Silver Spring, MD
After working some on it, I just got all 5 of them

Thanks a lot Jim!

9. ### JimK

Dec 12, 1999

The fingers are acsending but the harmonics sound like they're descending...

10. ### JimK

Dec 12, 1999

Cool...I'm calling "C" ~3.25, though.

11. ### Nick GannTalkbass' Tubist in Residence

Mar 24, 2002
Silver Spring, MD
Oh, sure, split hairs why don't ya

12. ### Jeff MooteSupporting Member

Oct 11, 2001
Some thoughts and questions. I started using harmonics long before ever notating/reading them. Because of this, when it came to transcribing some harmonics, I transcribed what you hear. As far as I have seen (only recently) most people transcribe their approximate fretted equivilent and the harmonic is simply created. Is this the commonly accepted method? To me it seems very bad, firstly because many harmonics fall away from frets, and it is very decieving as to what it will sound like. For me, it is easier to understand the harmonics written as they sound, not as they "look". IMO, notation should be just what it is, an entirely non visual aid to plaing something. To write something as it is played, not as it sounds, goes to the logic people see in tabs.

All of this is IMO, but I see my views as fairly logical.

13. ### Nick GannTalkbass' Tubist in Residence

Mar 24, 2002
Silver Spring, MD
Then how would you notate them? By the way they sound? If so, the same note can be produced at multiple harmonic nodes. By showing where they are (approximately) on the fretboard, it is easier to know where it is. It just makes it simpler.

14. ### Jeff MooteSupporting Member

Oct 11, 2001
Well, for example the D at fret 5 of the D string is notated in the 4th line of the treble clef (where most harmonics will be notated). If you can play that elsewhere (7th fret on the G is one) then it doesn't matter, because they;re the same. That way you have to do your own fingerings (as with all other reading) but otherwise you just play what's written wherever you like. This is for me, far easier, but I suppose if you've done enough the other way it'd be easy enough. Another thing that I find faulty in the approximation method: things are often notated as the 4th fret harmonic, but there is no clean node at fret 4, and what is meant is the place right before 4. If you learn things the other way, you know you'll get a cleaner sound at ~3.8

I'm not saying anyone is wrong, but to me, my method makes sense. What is the commonly accepted one?

15. ### Nick GannTalkbass' Tubist in Residence

Mar 24, 2002
Silver Spring, MD
To be honest, I don't know the "commonly accepted" method, because this song is the first time I have actually seen harmonics in notation. This method makes sense to me though, because it tells you approximately where the note is. And if you had at least some knowledge of harmonics, then you would know that it is not always placed directly over the fret, and you would compensate and experiment until you get the tone you are looking for.

Showing where it is on the fret board is like giving the position on the neck, which is done in notation.

Oct 11, 2001