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Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by firstedition14, Jul 30, 2004.

  1. I recently went to a bass workshop. The teacher introduced the concept of overtones as a tool to help with intonation. When the right note sounded the overtone of several different notes would sound on different strings, but some notes didn't have an overtone. He said there was a pattern to which notes had overtones and which didn't, but I guess I jus didn't really understand what he was trying to say. Could someone please explain to me the concept of overtones and the pattern of when they sound?
  2. Alex Scott

    Alex Scott

    May 8, 2002
    Austin, TX
    When your string vibrates, it doesn't just vibrate in one way, it also vibrates in halves, thirds quarters, fifths, all the way up the string. This is called the overtone series, and is fundamental to all vibrations. Practically, if you divide your strings into fractional parts, you can play harmonics in most of these places. When one note you play has an overtone that is also a part of the series in an open string, that sets up a sympathetic vibration in another string. This is similar to when a singer sings a tone that shatters a glass, sma e concept, only you are more productive doing this because it will make you play in tune. When those overtones line up, it makes the pitches sound in tune.

    Further reading in Hindemith's book called the construction of music or something similar
  3. Maybe I'm really thick-headed or something lol, but I still don't really understand. I'm with you until the sympathetic vibrations. What are the patterns of these notes sounding? Thanks!
  4. Alex Scott

    Alex Scott

    May 8, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Let's do a low G:

    when you play a low g, the string vibrates a lot of other notes, the first being the octave, or open g, so your g string should vibrate when you play a low g

    also vibrating will be the g harmonic half way up your g string, the d above that, the next g, b d and f g a harmonics which are past the end of the fingerboard. You won't notice those as much, the main ones will be the first to occur, the g string and the octave above that g

    now, let's go the other way, if you play the first d on the way up your g string, your open d string will vibrate at the harmonic most.

    have fun