Harmonic question

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Jacob_9012, Aug 6, 2019.

  1. Jacob_9012


    Mar 5, 2019
    So I've been playing through a lot of pieces and have noticed that the b above the octave g is sometimes written as a harmonic, for example in bottesinis concerto no. 2 second movement(that's where I noticed it most recently). As far as I'm concerned I can't play that note with a harmonic because they sound an octave to high.

    Is this because I'm in orchestral tuning instead of something else?

    Or am I maybe missing a harmonic on the fingerboard or supposed to make an artificial harmonic...

    If anyone could clear this up for me it would be helpful. I could also send post pictures of music with it if it's helpful.
  2. The fingered B above the octave G corresponds to the 5th partial which sounds roughly an octave high minus 14 cents, so yes you're ears aren't deceiving you about that partial sounding an octave higher compared to the fingered note. You being in orchestral tuning is not an issue for this at all. On my part it would be helpful if you posted a picture of the sheet music because I'm not that piece (I just like and work with harmonics a lot), but I'm sure those who are familiar with it can help out!
  3. Could be the B harmonic on the E string.
    Neil Pye likes this.
  4. Jacob_9012


    Mar 5, 2019
    IMG_20190806_192302.jpg IMG_20190806_192013.jpg this is a photo of the music and the section I was talking about, but I did forget about the e string I'm not used to going into thumb position on it and it seems like it's a straight line of notes and harmonics like written if I start on thumb e and stay on the string. It looks like it does something similar on the a string earlier in the line which I also missed.

    That being said I still have 2 new questions. Is all of the treble clef in this piece an octave higher then how I would read it a.k.a. how it would sound if a cello played it?

    Also in line 33 there's a note with a small x before it or after the note before it I'm not sure which, what does this x mean?

    Attached Files:

  5. Jacob_9012


    Mar 5, 2019
    I think your right, looking at the fingerings it looks like I'm supposed to go up the e string.
  6. there is no need to transpose treble clef. Treble middle C is played the same as bass clef middle C.

    that is a double sharp. It indicates the note is two half steps above the natural.
    Jacob_9012 likes this.
  7. I highly doubt it is the B harmonic on the E string because Bottesini played and wrote for the 3 stringed bass which did not have an E/F# string.

    Those who know this piece well please correct me if I’m wrong, but I just listened to a recording and it looks and sounds like the 3 and 0 above that B you mentioned are just fingering suggestions, so I believe that is supposed to be fingered as it would mess up the arpeggio it is a part of.

    While I’m not familiar with the plus and circle notation above some of the notes, I’m guessing they might be accents/articulations of sorts.

    When you’re reading in C clef and Treble clef the notes sound an octave lower than written. Do not read them at pitch. Double bass is a transposing instrument and everything is written an octave higher then it sounds.
    That is most certainly NOT a double sharp. A double sharp is an X placed on the left side of the note, as all accidentals are usually.

  8. Also listen to this recording and watch the score. While the score is a different edition then the one you have, it should clear up an notation troubles you are having.

    Edit: I just listened to the phrase you’re confused about and it is just a 2 octave E Major arpeggio. No harmonics involved at all and no need to go to the E string.
  9. Jacob_9012


    Mar 5, 2019
    I disagree with a few things you've said, first looking at the music in the video you sent it appears I'm right about the treble clef, while I obviously know that treble clef for the bass ussualy sounds an octave lower, it only makes sense if I play the treble clef there at it's sounding octave to make the line flow correctly and follow recordings I've heard and the way the music is written in that video. It's strange I don't know why it's written that way especially since this version is edited by Zimmerman who doesn't do that in other things of his I've seen.

    Secondly while I agree that it's just arppegios and could easily be played without harmonics. The fingerings there suggest what I said before the circle with a lining saying to play it with your thumb and then the 0 with numbers saying to play it harmonicly with ___ finger.

    Lastly the x meaning double sharp would also make sense so that it reads g sharp, f double sharp aka g and then g sharp again instead of going sharp, natural and then sharp again.
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2019
    dreamadream99 likes this.
  10. Carl Hillman

    Carl Hillman Supporting Member

    Jan 1, 2010
    I don't think going up the E string there (as is suggested in that edition) is a good choice for tone.

    Edicson Ruiz appears to play it:
    A D---G--
    2 1 4 1 T 3

    Edgar Meyer plays it:
    A-| D-| G------
    T 3 T 3 T 2

    ...and, thanks to the video editor's choice, who knows what Rinat does?

    A D- G---
    2 12 3 T 1(or2)

    Last edited: Aug 6, 2019
    Jacob_9012 likes this.
  11. Jacob_9012


    Mar 5, 2019
    Thank you for getting up the spots and figurings from the videos.
    I think I agree with you and while go up the string makes for a pretty easy finguring it doesn't sound the best especially when I'm trying to get a loud/projecting sound.

    I'll look at their finguring and try out some different things and decide on something I like, most likely without the harmonics.
    Carl Hillman likes this.
  12. If you read the Tenor and Treble clef parts at pitch, you're going to run out of fingered notes quite quickly.

    I'm attaching a few measures from a Sofia Gubaidulina bass piece that uses the circle above a note to notate a harmonic. If you look at the high B, the symbol above it is a circle, while the symbols that you think are harmonics in that arpeggio phrase look a lot like a 0. If you were to follow your idea about what those symbols mean, the B like you noticed would sound 2 octaves higher and that G# played as a harmonic would sound the 17th partial. If you look at the 3 videos Carl Hillman shared, all 3 players play the notes in that arpeggio without harmonics.

    Attached Files:

  13. Jacob_9012


    Mar 5, 2019
    if you read what I said, this is a strange edit of the piece by Zimmerman where the tenor clef parts read like you normally would and the treble clef has to be played an octave higher then how it's written. This is what I've figured out by comparing to multiple other versions of the piece on imslp, and the video you posted.

    As for the harmonics as I discovered with dreamadream99's and carl's help the fingerings that are written are to start on the E string octave e and continue going higher only on the E string using the harmonics(as noted by the 0's, a common practice I've seen in a lot of music) and the fingerings(as noted by the numbers above the 0's) until it hits the final E harmonic on the a string across from the b harmonic on the e. Now that being said I agree with Carl and the artistic choice of rinat and the other players and think that it makes more sense to not use harmonics exept for the final few notes in each line and do string crossings instead of playing it all on a lower string.
  14. It most certainly IS a double sharp. The OP is asking about The third note in measure 33—the F double sharp.
    Neil Pye, Jacob_9012 and Don Kasper like this.
  15. 0 or + signs often are fingering guides to use your thumb. Circles are one of the ways to notate harmonics, not 0.
    Look at the symbols above the notes on the top staff on this great harmonics map for bass that Ashley Long has on his great website.
    Harmonics - charts
    Notation can be and is confusing and you’re entitled to interpret the notations for the arpeggio at measure 28 however you please, but as someone who works a lot with harmonics and other extended techniques in composed and improvised music my experience tells me that those notations at measure 28 are not for notating harmonics. Simply just fingering options.
    My bad. I completely skipped over the fact that the OP was referencing the F double sharp at measure 33 and not those circle and + symbols. My apologies for that.
  16. Jacob_9012


    Mar 5, 2019
    If the 0 where for thumb and they were there
    , then wouldn't that mean that one of the fingerings options given is to play the entire line using your thumb while shifting multiple positions and strings(because the top set of fingerings would be one option and the bottom another). To me that seems a little ridiculous and I can't think that Zimmerman intended anyone to play it that way, an option witch seems much worse then going up the e string with harmonics to me. I do agree through that the notations is quite bad and unclear, after all the reason I started this post in the first place was because I originally didn't understand how zimmerman was saying it should be played.
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