Beginner Trouble with Harmonics?


Vientiane, Laos
Hey guys had a bit of a breakthrough with harmonics. If you are starting out with harmonics off Bb, your enjoying you practice and find that you can get quite a lot of different harmonics BUT not that pesky 2nd Overtone F, then this may be for you.

I was having loads of trouble with F (the one that sounds like middle F (ok + 123 +1) but using Low Bb fingering). No matter what weird contortions I put my tongue and throat into, it just wouldn't pop for ages. Then I tried this -
I played the harmonic series of Bb a few times using normal fingering to really get in to my head the sound of the series - Bb Bb F Bb D F (and then back down). Then I played the middle F for a whole tone (normal) then straight down to low Bb fingering and back again. This should sound like a middle F smoothly for 3 whole tones. It didn't for me.

Now this may be unorthodox and I may get shouted at. But I then tried to sing (with my vocal chords) that F while fingering low Bb. It sounded terrible, like bad 'growling' but i started to here the F start to come through. With a few minor adjustment it became stronger. Then I stopped the vocal chords vibrating but kept the airflow and shape in by mouth, tongue and throat. Ping....clear as a bell.

I guess this did two things -
1. It really forced me to put the sound of that F in my minds ear
2. Forced my oral cavity into the correct position for that note (i am not sure if the physics of this is correct i.e. singing an F and playing an overtone F use the same oral cavity, but it seemed to work for me)

The trick for me now is to remember this position when I want to play the F cleanly (ie with no nasty vocal vibrations)

Try it, it may work for you!

Pete Thomas

Chief of Stuff
Cafe Moderator
The Blue Ridge Mountains
There are many unorthodox methods that work, this one sounds great and I'm sure you'll be able to do it without the singing. It's a good way to internalise the pitch, so god ear training as well.
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