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Harmonics

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by Josh McNutt, Jun 28, 2003.


  1. Josh McNutt

    Josh McNutt Guest

    Mar 10, 2003
    Denton, Texas (UNT)
    This is something I've been think ing about for a while and would like some opinions on its feasibility. I suppose I should start with some background:
    On saxophone, among other wind instruments, altissimo range (notes above normal range) are reached by either by playing on a different partial than a fingering is supposed to bring out or forcing that partial through special fingerings. For reference, the overtone gammut from Bb: Bb1, Bb2, F2, Bb3, D3, F3, Ab3, etc.

    I know it's probably not possible pizz, but with the bow it's fairly easy to bring out the octave and octave and a fifth partials, so more should be possible with practice, no? I think if one were to gain enough control over the overtone series they would be able to make some cool music, not to mention how much easier some intervals would be.
     
  2. I know it's been done. There has been at least one bass player who made a "big deal" of it somewhere along the line but of course I can't remember the name. I believe I've also heard Glen Moore (Oregon) do something along those lines. It's an interesting concept and I know there is some theory out there about moving the bow position to correspond with the note being fingered, in order to produce the optimum overtones or something; I think it's similar to the theorys of tuning the string length between the bridge and tailpiece in order to enhance or diminish certain overtones.
     
  3. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    I know this is the DB forum, but have you guys ever heard Jaco Pastorius? Check out Portrait Of Tracy to see what's possible with harmonics on that instrument.

    I've never heard anyone play like that on DB. You'd need hands the size of a catcher's mitt.
     
  4. Josh McNutt

    Josh McNutt Guest

    Mar 10, 2003
    Denton, Texas (UNT)
    No, that's different, that involves playing the harmonics by physically stopping them on the string. I mean pulling them out with the bow while using the left hand normally.
     
  5. I'm pretty sure Jaco did it and I've seen other BG players do it too; but you can stop the string with the left hand, and both finger a harmonic and pluk the string with the right hand to get all kinds of harmonics. Kinda the same thing, but not really... :meh:
     
  6. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    ...so the string is vibrating, right? It's got those nodal points along its vibrating length, the spots where if you lightly touch the string and set it vibrating, you get a different pitch / tone than if the string is open.

    Doesn't matter whether the string is being stopped by the left hand or not, any length of string has that harmonic series available. I'm no bow guy by a long shot, but I'm coming at it from "a vibrating string is a vibrating string" angle.

    My DB, combined with my DB technique, means these harmonics usually sound like crap coming out of my axe. Completely different story on an EB. You can make music with them there harmonic things.
     
  7. Josh McNutt

    Josh McNutt Guest

    Mar 10, 2003
    Denton, Texas (UNT)
    I think I've been quite misunderstood. Drop the left hand idea, everybody can do that kind of harmonic stuff. I mean using the bow only to play on different partials, but not by stopping the string on a node. I mean only by pulling correctly and, most likely, doing quite a bit of pitch imagination stuff. For example, people often accidentally pull the octave harmonic out of the E and A strings when aiming for the fundamental. This is what I mean, but on all the partials, not just the octave. If you don't understand, ask one of your sax player friends to play up the harmonic series I listed in the first post only using the low Bb fingering (don't expect everyone to get the D and beyond, those take some practice).
     
  8. nah, I understand exactly what you're talking about. ;) And yes, it is definatly possible. whether it is possible to make it sound good... that another story. But what I'm trying to say is that it can be done from anywhere the string is stopped, not just an open string. (stopped at the nut.) get it? I don't think it's a technique that has much application in traditional music, but it can definately create some cool experimental sounds. Throw in some whacky reverb, bow he sid of your bridge and maybe the tailpiece a little, and bam... sounds like space invaders from the planet gorgon. :-D

    Seriously though, the concept when thought of in terms of bow placement in "regular" playing is also interesting, because of the interaction of the harmonics and overtones with the resonant properties of the instrument itself and probably the other strings as well. I think it helps to explain why bow position is so important in producing good tone.
     
  9. Josh McNutt

    Josh McNutt Guest

    Mar 10, 2003
    Denton, Texas (UNT)
    Well, currently it doesn't have much use in traditional music, but there's nothing stopping any composers from writing it except for the technique of players. Really though, I think the most useful application would probably be the ability to play normally TP stuff in the lower register. Also, I bet having that much overtone control would definitely improve one's sound.
     
  10. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    I'm the one doing the misunderstanding around here. Ya don't butt in now and then, ya don't get yer money's worth...

    Thanks for the description.
     
  11. yeah, I definately agree that learning to control those harmonics would help improve your tone production. But, I think once you start experimenting with them you'll find that replacing any thumb position stuff with them is really not viable. I'd say once you got really really good at it, like after a few years of working on it, you might be able to substitute a harmonic for a note here or there to help facilitate some difficult to finger passage. But, I don't think it will ever be of much use where you're looking to get any decent tone. I think at best it would be just another way of faking a tough passage. Just my opinions... There are a lot of other aspects of my playing I would work on before putting any serious thought or time into really mastering these harmonics. So for me anyway, that will be many years down the road, and thats coming after just about ten years of playing already.
     
  12. tsolo

    tsolo

    Aug 24, 2002
    Ft. Worth
    Probably, but one would hope not. I heard this just tonight while is was practicing arco. I have a name for these noises: can't play worth a s%!^.
     
  13. dragonetti11

    dragonetti11

    Jun 20, 2002
    Has anyone ever heard Breiz by Francois Rabbath? Its a study in electro-acoustic sonorities produced with the bow by natural and artificial harmonics. I dont know exactly what some of that means but it says it on the CD cover. Anyway it sounds hard!
     
  14. Alex Scott

    Alex Scott

    May 8, 2002
    Austin, TX
    not only higher but also lower Josh, ask me about that.