I recently heard a piece by Nathaniel Parks, "and by opening up".

Could someone explain to me the notation in the flute part (circles and diamonds)?

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1 Answer 1


The circles indicate harmonics. The player fingers the notes with diamond noteheads and overblows to sound the notes written with normal noteheads. Notes played as harmonics usually have a more 'veiled' tone quality than notes played with the normal fingerings.

  • Hmmm.... now I gotta see if anyone wrote similar markings for saxophones. (It's quite common for bowed string instruments) Mar 20 at 17:18
  • @CarlWitthoft my saxophone-playing daughter says yes: they can be x and o. But you've also got to consider whether you're meaning overtone harmonics or altmissimo harmonics Mar 25 at 14:29
  • @ChrisDavies What is an altissimo harmonic?
    – PiedPiper
    Mar 25 at 14:32
  • Apparently altissimo harmonics = really high notes (so I'm told) Mar 25 at 14:34
  • 1
    @ChrisDavies If your daughter doesn't have a copy of "Top Tones" ( Sigurd Rascher), get it for her. There are reliable fingerings for two octaves above the "design range." And, yeah, with practice one can blow at least to the 6th harmonic using the fundamental fingering. Mar 25 at 17:04

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