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Shouldn't harmonics be exactly in tune?

Dibbs

Member
Messages
643
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In a conical reed instrument the vibrating air column also vibrates at frequencies that are "in the area of" whole number multiples of the fundamental. The closer the harmonics are to whole number multiples determine the "harmonicity" with which the instrument plays.
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I don't think that's quite right. I think the harmonics in the sound of a woodwind instrument really are integer multiples of the fundamental (of the sound).

However, the resonances of the tube are only approximately harmonic.

Maybe that's what you meant so say.

Here's what Joe Wolfe has to say about it.

 

Dibbs

Member
Messages
643
I'm finding it really difficult to be rigorous about this stuff. I'm stuck between musician's meanings and scientists meanings for the same words.

Is there a scientific word for fundamental in the musicians sense? i.e. the lowest not that a string or tube will produce.

Likewise for the musician's meaning of harmonic as in a note (sound) with a fundamental (in the scientist sense) that is not the lowest note that that fingering will produce?
 

Hipparion

Member
Messages
218
But does the sound from a sax contain any frequencies not initially generated by the reed?
I have a hard time to understand how that would be possible, only the reed plays an active part in sound production. The sax is only modifying the content of the signal produced by the reed.
If there was a sound produced purely by the sax and not the reed, then the sax itself would introduce some energy in the system somehow. And the only thing I could think of would be mechanical vibrations in the tube, which translates at best to inaudible (low amplitude+strong attenuation) very high frequency sounds. At the very best.
 

Dibbs

Member
Messages
643
I have a hard time to understand how that would be possible, only the reed plays an active part in sound production. The sax is only modifying the content of the signal produced by the reed.
If there was a sound produced purely by the sax and not the reed, then the sax itself would introduce some energy in the system somehow. And the only thing I could think of would be mechanical vibrations in the tube, which translates at best to inaudible (low amplitude+strong attenuation) very high frequency sounds. At the very best.

I agree. It's a bit like asking what makes a car move forwards - the engine or the wheels?
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
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12,069
I have a hard time to understand how that would be possible, only the reed plays an active part in sound production. The sax is only modifying the content of the signal produced by the reed.
If there was a sound produced purely by the sax and not the reed, then the sax itself would introduce some energy in the system somehow. And the only thing I could think of would be mechanical vibrations in the tube, which translates at best to inaudible (low amplitude+strong attenuation) very high frequency sounds. At the very best.
Thing of making a sound blowing in a bottle.
The vibration caused by the turbolence on the edge has almost no sound, but makes the air inside the bottle vibrate at the bottle's favourite frequency
Same as plucking a string: the friction of the fluch does not get amplified, but creates harmonic vibration on the string
 

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
Messages
1,803
I'm finding it really difficult to be rigorous about this stuff. I'm stuck between musician's meanings and scientists meanings for the same words.

Is there a scientific word for fundamental in the musicians sense? i.e. the lowest not that a string or tube will produce.

Likewise for the musician's meaning of harmonic as in a note (sound) with a fundamental (in the scientist sense) that is not the lowest note that that fingering will produce?
and at the end of it, the horn is being talked about rather than played.
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
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7,490
I don't think that's quite right. I think the harmonics in the sound of a woodwind instrument really are integer multiples of the fundamental (of the sound).
One need only to view the spectrograph of a note played on a woodwind to see the "imperfect" harmonics in the sound.
However, the resonances of the tube are only approximately harmonic.
I'm not sure I understand the distinction. In my understanding it is the imperfections in the interior geometry of a saxophone compared to that of an "ideal" cone that are responsible for the "inharmonicity" of many of its tones.
 

Jeanette

Organizress
Cafe Moderator
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25,239
I'm sure my tutor once said something about the players windpipe influencing the sound too?

Is there anything in this?

Jx
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
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7,490
I'm sure my tutor once said something about the players windpipe influencing the sound too?

Is there anything in this?

Jx
This is sometimes referred to as "up stream" and your tutor is correct. Gary Scavone at McGill University has done an in depth study of this topic entitled: "Measurement of vocal-tract influence during saxophone performance. To put it simply, he found that when the resonances of the body tube of the instrument are weak it allows the resonances inside the oral cavity to take charge of the reed's vibrations. This is why we can play notes in the altissimo range. The pitch of notes from A2 and up can also be lowered, not by loosening the embouchure, but by changing the shape inside the oral cavity. He also found that the "timbre" or color of the sound throughout the range of the saxophone can be controlled to a small degree by making changes in the oral cavity.
 

Jazzaferri

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,555
In spite of all the musical and scientific hoo haa. The harmonics are always in tune

its your ear/brain that are at fault
 

Admitone

Member
Messages
113
The G2 harmonic of G1 is an integer multiple of G1, but the played G2 is likely not an integer multilple of the played G1.
 
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