#1

I understand the physics of the overtone series, as well as the notes each overtone creates. I thought I had a handle on it, then I heard someone I know (much better guitarist than myself) say they created a chord progression using the overtone series, and I was wondering if anyone could explain this.

#2

do you mean the notes of the overtones themselve.

Like taking those notes in a workable register?

Like taking those notes in a workable register?

#3

Yes. I've heard theories that intervals are consonant because of thier relation to the overtone series, so I would guess that it would be an interesting and useful tool to come up with harmonic ideas.

#4

Yes. I've heard theories that intervals are consonant because of thier relation to the overtone series, so I would guess that it would be an interesting and useful tool to come up with harmonic ideas.

Yes but harmonics and overtones are a bit different.

Where an harmonic is just 1 of the overtones.

All the overtones together create the note you hear + it's timbre.

Why a C note on a Sax and a C note on a guitar sound different is because of the overtones.

Just like if a note feed backs with heavy distortion, but usually in a higher pitch, (think flying in a blue dream intro of Satch) is just the overtone of the note, without it's main frequencies

*Last edited by xxdarrenxx at Mar 6, 2009,*

#5

I know all that, I was wondering if this can be harnessed to create music or if it is just a fun tidbit.

#6

I know all that, I was wondering if this can be harnessed to create music or if it is just a fun tidbit.

Well it is used:P

Pinch harmonics, natural harmonics, semiharmonics = all overtones.

Every you hear is made of overtones.

There is however an overtone scale, which is the 4th mode of the melodic minor.

It's based on certain overtones, don't know which 1's, but that might help.

In Jazz it's called Lydian Dominant, and is Lydian with a b7'

Formula = 1, 2, 3, #4, 5, 6, b7

Making a progression from that is quite doable, since it's workable with stacking notes into chords.

The Ideal chord to use this scale on would be; C7#11 which is objectively characteristically the most characteristic chord of the over tone scale.

It's a cool scale, and I drawn ideas from it quite a lot lately.

*Last edited by xxdarrenxx at Mar 6, 2009,*

#7

the overtones OF "C" are :

OCTAVE,5TH,OCTAVE,3RD,5TH,b7,OCTAVE,2ND,3RD,augmented 4th ,5th

you can compose using this seriese of notes and the sequence of intervals can be transposed

OCTAVE,5TH,OCTAVE,3RD,5TH,b7,OCTAVE,2ND,3RD,augmented 4th ,5th

you can compose using this seriese of notes and the sequence of intervals can be transposed

#8

the overtones OF "C" are :

OCTAVE,5TH,OCTAVE,3RD,5TH,b7,OCTAVE,2ND,3RD,augmented 4th ,5th

you can compose using this seriese of notes and the sequence of intervals can be transposed

Like I said

Root, 2nd, 3rd Augmented 4th (#4th), 5th 6th, b7 = Lydian dominant.

#9

The overtone series appears to fit into the Lydian Dominant Scale, but I had never really heard (or understood) the overtone series.

From a quick google check its

Octave - P5 - P4 - M3 - m3 - m3 - T - T - T - T - hs - T - hs

But if you were to keep on going up in the overtone series, how would you decide the notes?

From a quick google check its

Octave - P5 - P4 - M3 - m3 - m3 - T - T - T - T - hs - T - hs

But if you were to keep on going up in the overtone series, how would you decide the notes?

#10

The overtone series appears to fit into the Lydian Dominant Scale, but I had never really heard (or understood) the overtone series.

From a quick google check its

Octave - P5 - P4 - M3 - m3 - m3 - T - T - T - T - hs - T - hs

But if you were to keep on going up in the overtone series, how would you decide the notes?

they will eventually be the same again, it is pure mathematics, and has no musical value, because you can't hear them. I can hear them a little the higher overtones that is, but hardly.

With overdrive/distortion on, you can hear harmonics better. This is because distortion acts as a multiplier for harmonic overtones, so they get inevitably more harmonic overtones in the same octave resulting in a fatter harmonic.

The notes are, the half - from the half - from the half - from the half etc. untill there's no frequency left.

So you have a guitar string, then the 12th fret is exactly halfway the string, which is the normal note harmonic.

etc. etc.

To show ur example how it's mapped across the neck;

*Octave - P5 - P4 - M3 - m3 - m3 - T - T - T - T - hs - T - hs*

**Example**12th fret harmonic on the D string is normal D harmonic

7th fret harmonic on the D string = a D octave higher

**(octave)**

5th fret harmonic on the D string is an A note which is the perfect 5th.

**(P5)**

4 1/3 fret harmonic (very faint listen with loud volume or overdrive to hear it well) it the perfect 4th (g note harmonic 3 octaves up)

**(P4)**

4th fret harmonic on the D string is octave of the 4th fret note, which is F#. which is the Major 3rd of D

**(M3)**

Etc. Etc.

Like I said it's being used, and is just making melodies with the guitar's harmonics. Now if you take those harmonics and map them out like you do with ur major scale, you will end up with the notes of Lydian dominant.

*Last edited by xxdarrenxx at Mar 7, 2009,*

#11

Yeah, okay, so the overtone series is a series of harmonics derived from the guitar? Or any instrument that can make harmonic sounds (im not really aware of any other than the guitar & bass, or piano, violin? mandolin, harp ect)

What about 9th fret harmonics though? Maj3rd?

Was my example anywhere near correct?

Can you give an example of how it would continue?

I understood the Lydian Dominant was the overtone series, but I never knew why..

What about 9th fret harmonics though? Maj3rd?

Was my example anywhere near correct?

Can you give an example of how it would continue?

I understood the Lydian Dominant was the overtone series, but I never knew why..

#12

Yeah, okay, so the overtone series is a series of harmonics derived from the guitar? Or any instrument that can make harmonic sounds (im not really aware of any other than the guitar & bass, or piano, violin? mandolin, harp ect)

What about 9th fret harmonics though? Maj3rd?

Was my example anywhere near correct?

Can you give an example of how it would continue?

I understood the Lydian Dominant was the overtone series, but I never knew why..

It's the same for EVERY stringed instruments.

Even piano if you would open it up and place metal rods as fret on the piano strings, but I don't suggest to do this, since piano strings can slice you just like you see in good horror movies

On violin and sitar and every instrument that uses strings it's the same.

I could give you an example on how to continue, but it's mathematical based, and I can't be bothered to give a page long of Math formula's to show how the overtones are created

Your example was perfect, I just said how they came to what they are, with the natural harmonics,(and pinch harmonics )

Your ear isn't strong enough to hear those frequencies, and you need those audio monitoring systems where you see the sounds as waves on a screen to be able to "see them".

It will eventually just be the same overtones, but the octave higher, and higher, and higher, but at the "first higher" (3 octaves or so higher then 12 fret b string) it's already out of ur ear's frequency spectrum, so don't bother.

Timbre examples;Timbre examples;

You play like 6 overtones if you just play a regular note on guitar, together these overtones create a note that ur ear/mind links as 1 grouping and letting you hear it as what it is.

different and more/less overtones and the "colour" Timbre of ur sound will change. Which is the reason why all instruments sound different.

Harmonics on guitar and bass sound the same, because you play just 1 overtone resulting in both the same timbre, so the note sounds the same (different slightly because of the EQ) but you really won't be able to tell if the harmonic was made on electric/bass or acoustic guitar.

*Last edited by xxdarrenxx at Mar 7, 2009,*

#13

Well, thankyou for your explanation, but im still confused.

If you want to explain the math behind it, Id definatley appreciate (or anyone else)

The reason for confusion is I found two different Overtone Series on the net.

E E B E G# B D E F# G# A# B C# D D# (in E)

C C G C E G Bb C D E F# G G# A# B C C# D D# E (In C)

Whats with that?

If you want to explain the math behind it, Id definatley appreciate (or anyone else)

The reason for confusion is I found two different Overtone Series on the net.

E E B E G# B D E F# G# A# B C# D D# (in E)

C C G C E G Bb C D E F# G G# A# B C C# D D# E (In C)

Whats with that?

#14

Well, thankyou for your explanation, but im still confused.

If you want to explain the math behind it, Id definatley appreciate (or anyone else)

The reason for confusion is I found two different Overtone Series on the net.

E E B E G# B D E F# G# A# B C# D D# (in E)

C C G C E G Bb C D E F# G G# A# B C C# D D# E (In C)

Whats with that?

They are both the same only different key.

It's math, and math is always relative (changing something left results in changes need to be made on the right to match the equation).

If you shift the key up, all the harmonic frequency move relative to it which are the

__natural__intervals.

In ur example the first 3 overtones in E it's E E B (E = the root, B is it's 5th)

In the key of C the harmonic tones are C C G (C = the root and G is the 5th relative to it)

Just like C Major and E major both have the same intervals, but different notes.

But if you insist;

**The mathematical formula's for Natural frequency analysis;**

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_frequency

Be warned you need a decent amount of Math understanding, and it won't have any effect on ur songwriting.

Some guy probably got bored, found out the natural harmonic overtones, and mapped them in a usable scale;

C C G C E G Bb C D E F# G G# A# B C C# D D# E (In C)

=

C, D, E, F#, G, Bb. For some reason ur missing the A. It could be this is added to make it a 7 tone scale, not to sure. Or someone made a typo on The A#, which in Lydian Dominant is a natural A with C as it's root.

*Last edited by xxdarrenxx at Mar 7, 2009,*

#15

Well, call this ignorance but I recon Ill leave the overtone series for now. Hey, they say ignorance is bliss..

#16

Well, call this ignorance but I recon Ill leave the overtone series for now. Hey, they say ignorance is bliss..

Haha, it's just that I fail to see what ur musically wanna accomplish with this, being MT after all

Overtones is just the natural frequencies, and every sound is compiled of overtones.

It's like when painting, you wanna analyse why the colour red looks red. It doesn't matter for ur painting.

#17

Harmonic series has to do with physics and the way the string vibrates it's pretty simple maths but we'll get to that in a minute...

When the string vibrates along the whole string it produces the fundamental pitch. The vibration is a ratio of 1:1.

When the string is divided in two equal parts it vibrates in two equal sections twice as fast as the fundamental. This is the first harmonic. The ratio of vibration is ratio of 2:1 where the harmonic vibrates two full cycles every time the fundamental does 1. As a result the pitch of the first overtone is one octave above the fundamental.

The second in the harmonic series is when the string is divided into three equal parts. The result is a vibration of 3 cycles to 1 compared to the fundamental. The result is a perfect fifth plus an octave above the fundamental pitch. Compared to the first harmonic, which is an octave above the fundamental, the second harmonic vibrates at a rate of 3 to 2 and the pitch is a perfect fifth above the first harmonic (which in turn is a full octave above the fundamental). You still following?

So to bring this pitch down an octave we describe it as 3:2 compared to the fundamental. For every one vibration cycle of the fundamental a perfect fifth will vibrate one and a half times.

The third harmonic divides the string length into fourths. Now when we divided the fundamental in half it produced a pitch one octave higher. So when we divide that in half again it will raise another octave. The third harmonic, dividing the strings into fourths will vibrate four times to every one cycle of the fundamental. The result is a pitch that is two octaves above the fundamental.

The fourth harmonic divides the string into fifths. The vibration ratio compared to the fundamental is five times to one. The result it is a pitch two octaves plus a major third above the fundamental. Or we can compare it to the closest octave (which is the third harmonic) and get a vibration ratio of 5 to 4 which gives us a major third. So for every vibration of the fundamental the major third vibrates one and one quarter times.

The fifth harmonic ratio divides the string into sixths. As it is a simply a third divided into two the pitch is a perfect fifth above that third harmonic or two full octaves plus a perfect fifth above the fundamental.

The sixth harmonic divides the string into sevenths. The resulting vibration ratio compared to the harmonic is 7 to 1. When compared to the closest octave the ratio is 7 to 4. I can't remember what this interval is or even if it is an interval that we use.

That's basically how a harmonic series works. The maths is simply like this

1/2 1/3 1/4 1/5 1/6 1/7 1/8 1/9 1/10 1/11 1/12 1/13 1/14 1/15 1/16 etc etc.

The result is that 1/2 1/4 1/8 1/16 1/32 etc are all octaves of the fundamental.

1/3 1/6 1/12 1/24 etc are all perfect fifths

1/5 1/10 1/20 etc are all major thirds

So where do fourths come into it? Fourths are inversions of fifths. So a perfect fifth vibrates at a ratio of 3 vibrations for every 2 vibrations of the fundamental. The inversion of this is flipping the ratio so that the harmonic vibrates twice for every three vibrations of the fundamental. This is a problem though since it puts the harmonic lower than the fundamental and we can't have that since the fundamental is by definition the lowest note. So we raise the harmonic by an octave simply by doubling its cycle rate from 2 to 4. So a perfect fourth vibrates at a rate of 4 cycles to every 3 cycles of the fundamental.

So when measuring we see the first interval in the harmonic series is an octave. The second is between the first and second harmonics and it is a perfect fifth. The third is from the second to third harmonics (from the perfect fifth to the next octave) which is an inversion of the perfect fifth - a perfect fourth. The next interval we see is a Major third from the third harmonic to the fourth then we see a minor third from the fourth harmonic to the fifth. We can then work out inversions for the major and minor thirds and get our major and minor sixths. I believe the 7/4 interval is close to a major seventh but I can't remember.

When we measure from the root or any of it's harmonics upward the first three intervals are the octave the perfect fifth and the major third. These form the major chord as I'm sure you are aware. The power chord is just the first two harmonics a perfect fifth and octave.

Anyway all this is interesting but as we work from each of these new pitches through the harmonic series of that new note we get a different set of notes for each scale degree. This is why in the days of Just Tuning they had different tunings for each key. Each key would be tuned to the harmonic series of the tonic.

With computers we could possibly programme an instrument or write a song that continuously uses perfect harmonic intervals for a smooth sound. One that is superior even than the Just Intonation system since we could use a slightly different harmonic series for each root note and each root note could be from the harmonic series based on the tonic. I put some spreadsheets together analysing different tuning systems and might try this one day just to see what it sounds like.

I've probably lost you by now but hopefully you followed enough to get the basic idea.

As for your friend creating a progression using the harmonic series there's a number of different things he could mean by that many of which would require some kind of tuning adjustments. The other's don't mean too much really since most progressions are based on root - fifth relationships which could be described as "progressions based on the harmonic series" anyway.

Maybe his progression was like a root a perfect fifth an octave a major third a perfect fifth then back to the root or something. I don't really know. Do you know the progression I could then check it out and compare it to some ideas on harmonic series and see if there is any corelation.

When the string vibrates along the whole string it produces the fundamental pitch. The vibration is a ratio of 1:1.

When the string is divided in two equal parts it vibrates in two equal sections twice as fast as the fundamental. This is the first harmonic. The ratio of vibration is ratio of 2:1 where the harmonic vibrates two full cycles every time the fundamental does 1. As a result the pitch of the first overtone is one octave above the fundamental.

The second in the harmonic series is when the string is divided into three equal parts. The result is a vibration of 3 cycles to 1 compared to the fundamental. The result is a perfect fifth plus an octave above the fundamental pitch. Compared to the first harmonic, which is an octave above the fundamental, the second harmonic vibrates at a rate of 3 to 2 and the pitch is a perfect fifth above the first harmonic (which in turn is a full octave above the fundamental). You still following?

So to bring this pitch down an octave we describe it as 3:2 compared to the fundamental. For every one vibration cycle of the fundamental a perfect fifth will vibrate one and a half times.

The third harmonic divides the string length into fourths. Now when we divided the fundamental in half it produced a pitch one octave higher. So when we divide that in half again it will raise another octave. The third harmonic, dividing the strings into fourths will vibrate four times to every one cycle of the fundamental. The result is a pitch that is two octaves above the fundamental.

The fourth harmonic divides the string into fifths. The vibration ratio compared to the fundamental is five times to one. The result it is a pitch two octaves plus a major third above the fundamental. Or we can compare it to the closest octave (which is the third harmonic) and get a vibration ratio of 5 to 4 which gives us a major third. So for every vibration of the fundamental the major third vibrates one and one quarter times.

The fifth harmonic ratio divides the string into sixths. As it is a simply a third divided into two the pitch is a perfect fifth above that third harmonic or two full octaves plus a perfect fifth above the fundamental.

The sixth harmonic divides the string into sevenths. The resulting vibration ratio compared to the harmonic is 7 to 1. When compared to the closest octave the ratio is 7 to 4. I can't remember what this interval is or even if it is an interval that we use.

That's basically how a harmonic series works. The maths is simply like this

1/2 1/3 1/4 1/5 1/6 1/7 1/8 1/9 1/10 1/11 1/12 1/13 1/14 1/15 1/16 etc etc.

The result is that 1/2 1/4 1/8 1/16 1/32 etc are all octaves of the fundamental.

1/3 1/6 1/12 1/24 etc are all perfect fifths

1/5 1/10 1/20 etc are all major thirds

So where do fourths come into it? Fourths are inversions of fifths. So a perfect fifth vibrates at a ratio of 3 vibrations for every 2 vibrations of the fundamental. The inversion of this is flipping the ratio so that the harmonic vibrates twice for every three vibrations of the fundamental. This is a problem though since it puts the harmonic lower than the fundamental and we can't have that since the fundamental is by definition the lowest note. So we raise the harmonic by an octave simply by doubling its cycle rate from 2 to 4. So a perfect fourth vibrates at a rate of 4 cycles to every 3 cycles of the fundamental.

So when measuring we see the first interval in the harmonic series is an octave. The second is between the first and second harmonics and it is a perfect fifth. The third is from the second to third harmonics (from the perfect fifth to the next octave) which is an inversion of the perfect fifth - a perfect fourth. The next interval we see is a Major third from the third harmonic to the fourth then we see a minor third from the fourth harmonic to the fifth. We can then work out inversions for the major and minor thirds and get our major and minor sixths. I believe the 7/4 interval is close to a major seventh but I can't remember.

When we measure from the root or any of it's harmonics upward the first three intervals are the octave the perfect fifth and the major third. These form the major chord as I'm sure you are aware. The power chord is just the first two harmonics a perfect fifth and octave.

Anyway all this is interesting but as we work from each of these new pitches through the harmonic series of that new note we get a different set of notes for each scale degree. This is why in the days of Just Tuning they had different tunings for each key. Each key would be tuned to the harmonic series of the tonic.

With computers we could possibly programme an instrument or write a song that continuously uses perfect harmonic intervals for a smooth sound. One that is superior even than the Just Intonation system since we could use a slightly different harmonic series for each root note and each root note could be from the harmonic series based on the tonic. I put some spreadsheets together analysing different tuning systems and might try this one day just to see what it sounds like.

I've probably lost you by now but hopefully you followed enough to get the basic idea.

As for your friend creating a progression using the harmonic series there's a number of different things he could mean by that many of which would require some kind of tuning adjustments. The other's don't mean too much really since most progressions are based on root - fifth relationships which could be described as "progressions based on the harmonic series" anyway.

Maybe his progression was like a root a perfect fifth an octave a major third a perfect fifth then back to the root or something. I don't really know. Do you know the progression I could then check it out and compare it to some ideas on harmonic series and see if there is any corelation.

#18

I'll try to contact him this weekend and get the sheet music.