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30 votes
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Why do the Fourier components of a piano note shift away from the harmonic series?

This is a phenomenon called inharmonicity, in which harmonics deviate from the expected integer multiples. This is an example of the difference between ideal mathematics and the real world. Wikipedia ...
Aaron's user avatar
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28 votes
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Why do I hear higher harmonics, when the strings aren't free to vibrate?

Tim's answer is of course correct, but I'd like to offer a more quantitative way of saying the same thing. As others have noted, digital pianos emulate the sympathetic vibrations of acoustic pianos (...
phoog's user avatar
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26 votes
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Trumpet Peculiar Frequency spectrum

Excellent find! Trumpet, as well as the acoustically similar trombone, are very peculiar instruments when it comes to physics. They are cylindrical tubes closed at one end, so they should have a ...
MattPutnam's user avatar
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23 votes
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Playing complex chords on a 6-string guitar

It depends on the setting (what other instruments?), but generally speaking, you'd consider, in order, Sacrificing the pure fifth. As soon as any instrument plays the root, the fifth will be very ...
leftaroundabout's user avatar
22 votes

Does the difference in harmonic series between instruments have a significant effect on the consonance of the sound?

Is it an important thing to consider in Orchestration? You have in fact stumbled onto the very foundation (and art) of orchestration. Orchestration is about not only knowing how each instrument ...
jjmusicnotes's user avatar
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22 votes
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Cello pressed at half length higher than harmonic?

This happens on all stringed instruments. There are two reasons for that. As you already noticed yourself, pressing down the string does require bending it a little, i.e. stretching, which increases ...
leftaroundabout's user avatar
21 votes
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How do harmonic tones get "out of tune" on a brass instrument?

While the total length of a brass instrument is basically fixed, the ratio of conical to cylindrical piping is not set in stone for a trombone. It is true that the 6th partial is generally quite sharp,...
mkingsbu's user avatar
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20 votes
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Where do the natural harmonics fall on the bass guitar?

It's the same as on a guitar. Harmonics occur at equal divisions of the string length. Half the string is the location of the 12th fret. This produces a harmonic at twice the frequency of the open ...
trw's user avatar
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18 votes
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What is the name of this scale based on the harmonic series?

There are two different questions that could be read here, which it is not obvious (yet extremely significant) that they are different. One question is "what is the name of the scale consisting ...
Judy N.'s user avatar
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17 votes
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How can you distinguish instruments by their timbre characteristics?

A simple list of what overtones are present wouldn't tell you much. What you really want is the relative levels/intensity of each overtone. A list of the overtones with relative intensities for an ...
Todd Wilcox's user avatar
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17 votes
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Bass guitar: Fret distance formula

In a 12-tone, equal tempered scale, we want our frequency to double (become an octave higher) every 12 semitones, and we want our semitones to be evenly-spaced. As each fret represents a semitone, ...
Нет войне's user avatar
16 votes

Sounds of harmonics

Your first sentence holds the key - it is actually not correct. Interestingly, the reason it sounds so different is because the opposite is true - touching at any of the node points removes harmonics. ...
Doktor Mayhem's user avatar
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16 votes

Why do I hear higher harmonics, when the strings aren't free to vibrate?

Any piano string (or other, for that matter) will produce harmonics from that root note. The first few harmonics produced from a C string are the octave (C), the 5th above that (G) and the next octave ...
Tim's user avatar
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16 votes
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Confusion about overtones and a slow-motion video of a plucked string

At a basic level, the waveshape in the image you posted is a graph of sound pressure over time, while the actual string in the video is a graph of string displacement over its length. The two are ...
Edward's user avatar
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16 votes

Confusion about overtones and a slow-motion video of a plucked string

The Fourier transform allows us to decompose the shape of the string into a collection of sinusoids which correspond to the fundamental frequency and the (mostly) audible harmonics that give the note ...
cuppajoeman's user avatar
15 votes

Does the difference in harmonic series between instruments have a significant effect on the consonance of the sound?

Other answers so far make good points -- matching timbres (and sound spectra) is actually essential to orchestration, and composers have been noticing these patterns (and using them in orchestration) ...
Athanasius's user avatar
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15 votes

Are bells the only instrument whose second harmonic forms a minor interval with its fundamental?

In short the question boils down to: are there any other instruments able to produce a spectrum which does not follow the harmonic series, neglecting inharmonicity. Well, any instrument whose ...
Tom's user avatar
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14 votes
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In a musical note (A for an example) are all the other frequencies harmonic?

are there any inharmonic frequencies in A? Simplistically speaking, 'A' tells us the fundamental pitch of the note (or at least it would if we knew which A - e.g. A4 is often, though not always, ...
Нет войне's user avatar
14 votes

Can the harmonic series explain the origin of the major scale?

Can the harmonic series explain the origin of the major scale? Emphatically yes, but that doesn't mean the major scale is literally contained in the harmonic series. We seem to be dealing basically ...
leftaroundabout's user avatar
14 votes
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How is this dissonant harp sound achieved?

I'm not a harp player, but it appears that this is done with the harp equivalent of prepared piano on a few strings. About four or five strings of the harp appear to have some kind of putty attached ...
Michael Seifert's user avatar
13 votes
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How should I interpret decimals in guitar tabs?

I believe that this is referring to where you would place your finger to get the desired harmonics. The harmonic that generates the major third is right before the 4th fret, which would be 3.85. 3.2 ...
Basstickler's user avatar
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12 votes
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Do all periodic sound waves have harmonics?

I 've read that all periodic sound waves have a fundamental frequency That's true - if a wave is periodic, it has a fundamental frequency. (Oddly, just because a wave has a fundamental frequency, ...
Нет войне's user avatar
12 votes

What is heard when a tuning fork is struck?

Although tuning forks produce very pure tones compared to other instruments, they do not produce actual pure tones. One reason that you can hear the overtones easily, despite how quiet they are, ...
Edward's user avatar
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11 votes
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What's the difference between artificial and natural harmonics?

Natural harmonics, on guitar in particular, are those found using open strings. The most used ones are those on 12th fret, 7th fret and 5th fret - or the same places nearer the pups - as in 1/2 the ...
Tim's user avatar
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11 votes
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Do interval ratios take overtones into account or solely the fundamental frequency?

When we say that the pitch ratio between notes is 2:3, that ratio only expresses the ratio of the fundamental frequencies. However, there will of course be lots of other ratios between the harmonics ...
Нет войне's user avatar
11 votes

Does the difference in harmonic series between instruments have a significant effect on the consonance of the sound?

Does the difference in harmonic series between instruments have a significant effect on the consonance of the sound? Absolutely - and not only between instruments. Different ranges of the same ...
Нет войне's user avatar
11 votes

What is the name of this scale based on the harmonic series?

The Musical Scale Search Tool offers four scales whose notes correspond to the OP, with only one -- C Minor Lydian -- containing the pitches in the order specified. The others would be permutations/...
Aaron's user avatar
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