Harmonics on the Free Strings

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Andy
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Harmonics on the Free Strings

Post by Andy » Sun Apr 14, 2019 5:11 pm

Hello folks!

I’m a bit confused. I’ve been looking at a new piece of music and at the end of the song there are a few measures that use harmonics on the free strings. I didn’t know this was possible. I understand the concept on the fretted strings and have had some success with it, but how on earth would you do that on the free strings? Any insights would be greatly appreciated!

- Andy
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NutmegCT
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Re: Harmonics on the Free Strings

Post by NutmegCT » Sun Apr 14, 2019 6:12 pm

Hi Andy - very similar to playing violins, cellos, guitar, etc.

Halfway across any open string, the harmonic sounds one octave higher than the open string.

But different points on the open string have different harmonics.

Some harmonic notation systems show the actual spot on the string to touch; other systems show the sound you should make, and leave it up to you to find the spot on the string to lightly touch.

Basically, you're just playing the "natural harmonics" of the open string. Here's a chart showing the natural harmonics of a guitar A string, and approximately where to lightly touch the finger to create the sound (frequency) desired.

Image

I hope this is helpful.
Tom M.

Evelyn
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Re: Harmonics on the Free Strings

Post by Evelyn » Sun Apr 14, 2019 8:36 pm

Andy, another name for Flageoletts is Bell tones, and they are explained in 'Modern Zither Method' by King Keyes which is archived here:
https://www.zither.us/index.php/zither.learning

I have pasted the relevant bits below for your perusal

Bell tones (1).jpg
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Last edited by Evelyn on Sun Apr 14, 2019 8:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Evelyn
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Re: Harmonics on the Free Strings

Post by Evelyn » Sun Apr 14, 2019 8:38 pm

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Evelyn
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Re: Harmonics on the Free Strings

Post by Evelyn » Sun Apr 14, 2019 8:38 pm

Bell tones (3).jpg
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Evelyn
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Re: Harmonics on the Free Strings

Post by Evelyn » Sun Apr 14, 2019 8:39 pm

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Evelyn
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Re: Harmonics on the Free Strings

Post by Evelyn » Mon Apr 15, 2019 4:29 am

You can watch, and listen to Dieter Vensler playing lots of bell tones in this video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j68g68V7IRY

Andy
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Re: Harmonics on the Free Strings

Post by Andy » Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:22 am

Thank you both! This is great information, and seeing a video of someone performing Bell Tones is amazing. Like everything, this is gonna take some practice.

- Andy

Evelyn
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Re: Harmonics on the Free Strings

Post by Evelyn » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:17 am

Andy, you are very welcome, and yes, despite it all looking very simple it certainly does take some practice. Here is a short film showing Wilfried Scharf playing the zither (and a short sequence of bell tones).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1xefGMYo4E

Towards the end of the film, at about 9:34 minutes in, there is a short sequence of Wilfried playing the bell tones in a piece called "Ein Abend am Traunsee" by Hans Frank (the whole film is, however, worth watching and listening to, I think). Note that he uses the side of his index finger, whereas Dieter Vensler uses the flat of the finger. I am finding that I am more successful using Wilfried Scharf's method, which is how I was taught to play bell tones, and indeed this also follows the instructions published in King Keyes ("bell tones are played on the side of the second finger"). I suggest you do whichever works best for you. Btw, bell tones can also be played on the accompaniment strings. In any case, the touch needs to be literally feather light and (very) short, ie lift off finger immediately.

Andy
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Re: Harmonics on the Free Strings

Post by Andy » Mon Apr 15, 2019 4:39 pm

Success! The hardest part of doing this on the accompaniment strings is not having a fret to guide you. But the halfway point of the accompaniment is about fret 12, I had been off center! What a beautiful, almost haunting sound that makes.

https://youtu.be/trzWP8q1pV4

Evelyn, I wish I understood what he was saying, but regardless, I love seeing Wilfred Scharf play. He makes it look effortless.

- Andy

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