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Harmonics are string special effects, sounding much like the tones produced by a flute or recorder.
When studying how sound is created, you learned how sound waves and pitch frequency create pitches. Harmonics are created when partial segments of the string are placed into vibration action, while others remain still.
Harmonics are also called Flageolets.
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The two types of string harmonics are:
Natural Harmonics and Artificial Harmonics
Natural Harmonics are created when floating only one fingertip contact at specific string locations, on the surface of the string. All natural harmonics are at proportional locations on the string.
Artificial Harmonics are created when depressing the string with one fingertip, while floating another fingertip contact at specific intervals higher than the other finger.
Natural Harmonics are by far, more frequent. When shifting up only one string producing a one octave scale, the top pitch is the most common harmonic string location. The harmonic one octave higher than the open string is the result. This is the place where the string is exactly divided at the halfway point. At every other proportional string location, additional harmonics can be created.
Artificial Harmonics are less common. On the violin and the viola, placing the index finger firmly down on the string and at the same time floating the pinky on the same string, a perfect fourth higher, produces a harmonic that sounds two octaves higher than the location of the index finger. Cello and Bass players include the thumb, which makes it possible to reach the perfect fourth interval span.
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When performing harmonics, always be certain to maintain a consistent bow contact point.
Every harmonic has a distinct bow placement, one that allows the string to produce the desired harmonic effect!
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