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A friend told me about an "advanced" violin technique involving pressing down with the bow very hard (but not too hard) on a note, producing a kind of scratch note; When done right, however, this technique produces a harmonic-like note LOWER than an open G. I tried it, and sure enough, after a bit of fiddling around with it (hehehe), it worked.

Has anyone ever heard of anything like this, or know what this is called? I have been searching around but have been unable to find anything...

Thanks.

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The name for the sounds you are describing are indeed called Subharmonics. They were discovered by violinist Mari Kimura in the early 1990's and first presented in 1994.

As her website states,

I first discovered the technique from an age-old bowing exercise, a modified version of "Son Filé", drawing the bow very slowly but applying slightly more pressure. The exercise was to make the sound steady on the upper E string notes while listening to a scratchy pitch generated one octave below, which I decided by chance to apply for the notes on the G string. Eventually I managed to eliminate most of the "scratchy" transient noise, thus achieving solid low sounds one octave below on the G string. The technique has been known among violinists as an exercise or some says even as a quirky 'joke'. I took this obscure sounds and developed them further, not for the sake of novelty but to use them as a new element for the musical language for the violin.

You can read more about her, her career, and this particular technique here.

  • I have no source with it, but a teacher once told us about it with a story dating from before the 1990's. – Félix Gagnon-Grenier Aug 27 '15 at 15:17

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