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Help with Harmonics

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Larry Ames, Jan 27, 2017.


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  1. I am working on the Ginastera Harp Concerto, and the bass part has two harmonic notes that I have no idea how to finger. One is an A flat above middle C, and the other is an E flat above middle C. They are both notated as natural harmonics. Can anyone give me an idea how to finger these notes?
     
  2. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    I have to see how it is notated. But there is an Ab natural harmonic on the E string (4th 'fret'). There is no Eb natural harmonic.
     
  3. It's almost certainly artificial. It's a lazy way to notate, but it happens.
     
  4. I found the Ab natural harmonic on the E string :). Still looking for the Eb. I'm sure it's an artificial, even though the score notates it as a natural harmonic (Eb with a degree mark above, in treble clef no less!) Can anyone tell me how to finger the artificial? If all else fails, I'm just going to finger the Eb non-harmonic and smile.
     
  5. Could you post a picture of the offending bars, please?

    There is an E-flat/D-sharp harmonic on the B string, if you've got one.
     
  6. Tune your E string to E flat? Or lock the E flat down with a capo on your low C extension? Is the note so important that it must be a harmonic?
     
  7. There is an out of tune Ab right at the Ab stop on the G string if you just lift your finger - same for Eb on the D string. I doubt this is what they are looking for.
    It is in Mark Dresser's chart that comes with Guts:
    https://www.mark-dresser.com/guts
     
  8. Here is a photo of the offending bars. I do have a low-C extension, but unfortunately, no B string.
    4120f0ef-3811-4ed2-8486-2d05cfa3dbb1.
    Ginastera obviously never played the bass. The part is written in bass clef, treble clef AND tenor clef.
     
  9. Ok. Either set your extention to E-flat for a natural harmonic, or play artificial on the A string with thumb on A-flat (just below the octave harmonic) and third finger on E-flat.
     
  10. Is that the 17th partial? That will be two octaves too high and horribly out of tune, if you manage to get it at all. I'll pass.
     
  11. Josh Kneisel

    Josh Kneisel

    Jun 17, 2016
    Arizona
    it has to be an artificial harmonic I would think...
     
  12. That is the one! It has a nice hollow wispy quality that is great in lots of improvised music contexts.
     
  13. Thanks everyone for the input. I found an excellent series of articles on bass harmonics posted at notreble.com by Dr. Donovan Stokes of Shenandoah University-Conservatory. bass harmonics series articles on No Treble
     
    Tom Lane likes this.
  14. Stokes is great, but Dresser's chromatic chart is best because it matches up every stopped pitch with the harmonic in that location.
     
  15. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    Thanks for posting! Excellent summary!
     
  16. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    You mean finger the first 'fret' of the G string to get the Ab harmonic?
     
  17. Co.

    Co.

    Sep 10, 2006
    Germany
    Can you compare this harmonic to other "normal" harmonics in the score? It might be written in sounding pitch, not transposed an octave lower, as the rest of the bass part.
    Unfortunately some composers write harmonics suono reale. In this case, you'd have to put your thumb on Eb, a half step above octave D and 3rd finger lightly touching a fourth higher on Ab.
     
  18. Yes, when you play an Ab on the G string in tune when you release pressure you have the 17th partial - a very high and out of tune Ab.
     
  19. It's possible, but that's not been my experience with Ginastera. I think he wrote his scores correctly.
     
  20. Can you post a link to Dresser's chart?
     

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