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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

Well-Known Member
Commercial Supporter
St. Mary's
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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