# harmonics

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by mclaud, Jun 10, 2002.

1. ### mclaudGuest

Oct 25, 2000
portugal, lisbon
hi!

I become curious, sometimes i heard in some records a kind of harmonic that seems to slide up in scale (the bass player from Djavan does this all the time), and i don't seem to get this at any way. can you help me?

tanks!

2. ### burnthill

So if you hold down say C on A string and then also press lightly at a point 1/4 of the distance from C to the bridge, you should be playing C 2 octaves higher. How to pull this off is another question due to the length you'd have to reach from 1st finger to 4th, unless you find the same C on the E string (which is at the 8th fret). Hold down the note at the 8th fret and lightly finger the 12th fret, and a note 2 octaves higher will sound. I've seen this done on the violin, but the stretch is a lot shorter.

3. ### mclaudGuest

Oct 25, 2000
portugal, lisbon
So, if i understand, you're telling how to get two harmonics in the same string but in diferent octaves. But what i want to know is, how do i go from one to other sliding up and earing all the notes from one to other, like if you were sliding in a fretless but in harmonics.

4. ### burnthill

Actually, I was describing how it's done. But let's try it this way.
On the D string fret lightly on the 5th fret, and pluck it. You have a 2 octave D harmonic. The distance from nut to the 5th fret is 1/4 the length of the string. (playing the 12th fret divides it in half and gives you a 1 octave harmonic. Playing the 5th fret enables the string to vibrate in 4 equal parts giving you a 2 octave harmonic.

If you could play Eb on the first fret and touch the 6th fret lightly (though it's hard to reach in normal left hand position) you'd hear an Eb 2 octaves above the original, likewise the 2nd and 7th frets and so on up the neck The way the guitar (and bass) and its frets are designed, any note you play, if you can lightly touch the 5th fret above that, (1 quarter of the remaining vibratinig string) you have the 2 octave harmonic of that note.
Try anchoring (playing the original note) the note with your left thumb, and then playing the harmonic on the 5th fret above it with the ring finger or pinkie. (To do this reach your whole hand including thumb around the neck, pressing the side of your thumb flat against the fingerboard at the desired fret, lightly touching the fifth fret above that with pinkie or ring finger - whichever reaches it better) If you have a big hand it's easier, because if your anchor note is at the 1st fret, your harmonic is going to be a little over 8 inches above it because there's slightly more than 32" of string vibrating. (from the 1st fret on a 34" scale bass)
Think of the anchor note (played with thumb) as a new nut on the string. Then the harmonic is played 1/4 of the way up the remaining length of string. This works in any position (hold down the 9th fret, play the harmonic at the 14th, etc, etc.
If you watched those guys sliding harmonics up and down the neck, you'd see their stretched left hand moving up and down the neck, contacting the string in 2 places (probably with the thumb and pinkie) for each harmonic note.
Get the picture? This is pretty esoteric stuff, for advanced guitar and bass players. I can't do it well enough to try it in a performance, but I think I understand the concept.