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35

What is an overtone? When you pluck a guitar string, there are a variety of ways it could vibrate1: Each vibration will produce a different pitch, because they have different frequencies. For example, the top-left corner has the lowest frequency because it has the smallest number of crests/valleys--its crests are highly infrequent. In most cases, when you ...


32

The tuning fork does produce overtones. The amount of overtone depends on how the tuning fork is attacked. The modes of attack also depend on the pitch of the fork. I once had a very long tuning fork for a physics demo that was 80-100Hz. You could squeeze the ends together and slide your fingers off creating a smooth fundamental tone. If you struck it ...


31

A tuning fork comes close, though amplifying it by placing it on some resonating object - a wooden table, piano case, or try your head :-) - will add some harmonics. The sound-producing element of a Fender Rhodes electric piano is essentially a tuning fork, though other parts of the instrument are designed to 'dirty up' the pure tone. The tone of a flute, ...


22

I've heard it claimed that human whistling comes very close to being a perfect sine wave: The video here seems to show only one peak on the spectrograph, supporting a nearly perfectly sinusoidal waveform.


17

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 instrument is called the instrument's spectrum. You might try searching for " spectrum" for the ones you are most interested in. Here's an example for a violin: ...


14

In the context of acoustic analysis: Overtone: any resonant frequency above the fundamental frequency. Harmonic: resonant frequency that is an integer multiple of the fundamental frequency. For almost any^* musical instrument, any time you play a sound, you get a whole series of overtones. The feature of pitched instruments that makes them pitched is ...


14

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, considered to be 440Hz). However, whether or not there are any inharmonic frequencies completely depends on the timbre of the note. Looked at another way, it's (...


12

The difference is quite simple, and we might be over-complicating it in other answers. Overtone: any resonant frequency above the fundamental frequency. Harmonic: resonant frequency that is an integer multiple of the fundamental frequency. A harmonic is a type of overtone. All resonant frequencies above the fundamental are overtones, but only the ones that ...


12

As far as I know every instrument produces overtones. Some might think that unpitched percussion don't have overtone, but they produce them as well. However, there are some electronic instruments, such as synthesizers (sine waves) which can be played without producing any overtones, but every acoustic instrument does. If I'm correct the ocarina might be ...


10

The most commonly-quoted theory on how the timbre of a sound affects consonance/dissonance is Helmhotz' proposition that beat frequencies between the individual partials of notes cause dissonance, and the coincidence of partials resulted in consonance. This was later expanded on by Plomp and Levelt's findings (for example, that dissonance is eliminated when ...


9

One effect that is relevant for the wear on metal cored strings is work-hardening -- the repeated bending of the string through use causes microscopic changes in the crystalline structure of the strand of steel, affecting its stiffness and ultimately leading to breakage. Similar to bending a paper clip back and forth until it breaks. This affects the tone ...


9

Depends what's playing it. The harmonic series - the 2,3,4 etc. frequency ratios - are the overtones of a theoretical 'perfect' instrument. That's a simple string, of negligible mass, vibrating as a whole, as two halves, as three thirds etc. In real life, instruments are not perfect. They produce overtones that are displaced from those theoretical ...


8

Overtones are harmonics, or upper partials; extra notes which sound when a fundamental note is played. The words are almost synonymous, but not exactly. When a string is played, or a note blown, the loudest sound we usually hear is the fundamental - the one we would sing back, or use to identify what the note is. It has, to greater or lesser degrees, other ...


7

I believe the effects are: The oil & muck from your fingers getting into the string :"A third effect is the build up of fatty/gummy gunk (oils from your skin mixed with dust from the air), either on the surface of the string or in the grooves of the wound strings. This has the effect of adding additional internal friction to the string (sort of like ...


7

The harmonic series doesn't really have an explicit 'role' in standard music theory. However, as David Bowling says, understanding the harmonic series will help you understand - or give you another way to think about - : timbre (perhaps the most direct way you can use knowledge of the harmonic series in your music is by using an additive synthesizer) ...


7

It is worth looking at the reason WHY there are so few instruments that produce sine waves. It is clearly fairly difficult, from the point of view of physics, to make a sine wave without electronics, but people could have tried to get close if they wanted to. The psycho-acoustic answer is that few attempted this because it does not sound interesting. It is ...


6

For human ears, the relation of the overtone to the fundamental is perhaps not as important as the pitch area that the overtone sounds in. Our ears have evolved to pick out resonance peaks and valleys (see the concept of vocal formants) that are pertinent to distinguishing vowels. An "ah" sound, for example, has an "ah" quality regardless of the fundamental ...


6

How Paleolithic man discovered and shared knowledge about harmonic intervals? Their musical knowledge was discovered through observation and ingenuity, and communicated through their musical instruments and musical traditions, no differently than people and cultures all over the world, since time immemorial - people who knew nothing about the theoretical ...


6

frequencies other than the dominant frequency of the note Any finite wave has frequencies other than the dominant frequency. Single frequency is only possible for a sinusoid that has lasted since forever with constant amplitude and will continue to do so. For any finite wave you will be able to perceive (with your ear or any physical measuring device) a ...


6

You can create pure a sine wave with some electronic generators. Another way is to use software. I created a series of pure sine waves in wav files at various frequencies for a hearing test. They don't sound like any real instrument that I have ever heard. So, that says that no instrument that I have heard produces a pure sine wave. Of course, I have ...


5

In general, whenever there is a sound, there is more than one frequency occurring simultaneously (exception: A pure sine wave tone has a single frequency). But any periodic function, such as a sound wave, can be written (via a Fourier transform) as a sum of individual sine waves, each with their own frequency and amplitude. If you plot the amplitude of each ...


5

To a reasonable approximation the overtones of the vibrating strings used in musical instruments are integer multiples of the fundamental. In a tablular format similar to the OP: 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0 ... These correspond to the string modes: The relative amplitudes of the degree to which these modes are excited depends on the details of how the string is ...


5

On a practical/engineering approach, once we have the spectral analysis (i.e. the characterization of the frequency spectrum along time in terms of transients, and harmonic and inharmonic partials, as explained in Todd Wilcox's answer), we need to compare our instrument to a reference database of previously catalogued instruments. This is done by using a ...


5

Depending on the amount of clipping, the waveform of a very distorted signal can approach a square wave. Mathematically, a square wave is an infinite sum of overtones, with each higher overtone at a lower intensity than the previous. Near the bottom of this page is the infinite sum of a mathematically exact square wave: http://mathworld.wolfram.com/...


5

If you select one (of the many) A, it is defined by one single frequency. One example might be the A having frequency 440Hz. If you dial in 440 Hz on a frequency generator, on setting sinus (it should be sine, see comments) wave, it will have only that frequency and sound an A. But I guess, you are asking about A-s sound from other sources, say from ...


5

If I play a perfect fifth on the piano using C4 and G4 they sound consonant. True! And If I start on C4 and play out the harmonic series in order I wont come across the note G4 but only the G5 an octave higher up. Also true! So whats the connection to the harmonic series and why does those two notes sound consonant? Let's forget we're talking about ...


5

When you get into the scientific study of psychoacoustics of how pitch and consonance are perceived, you'll need to consider harmonics. Except for some synthesizers that generate pure sinusoids, all pitched instruments produce sounds that include significant overtones that are an important part of pitch perception. The main theory for consonance is that it ...


4

Additional to the answer from topo morto I'd like to mention the book “Tuning, Timbre, Spectrum, Scale” from W. Sethares [1]. Beside others, it describes the construction of scales and tone systems for timbres with inharmonic spectra. Even though it is mainly a place theoretic approach I don't see any reason why it shouldn't work also with a theory based on ...


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