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 Need help understanding the Harmonic Series
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2018-08-17 03:54

Apparently the harmonic series is strong with the Legere reeds. When there is a tendency for them to "whistle" or "squeak," it is usually the fourth line "D" or fourth line "D#."

If the "D" squeaks, it is an octave and a second above ("E" third ledger above the staff). If the "D#" squeals, it is also an octave plus a second or the "F" three ledger lines above the staff.

According to a chart of the harmonic series that would make these notes the "eighth harmonic." Now if we think of the "G" that is below the second ledger below the staff as a fundamental of the "D" that we get adding the register, does that make this interval the second harmonic? If so, why am I experiencing the next harmonic to be the "eighth?" Or am I not getting this at all?


...................Paul Aviles

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 Re: Need help understanding the Harmonic Series
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2018-08-17 05:05

Any reed that squeaks this way usually has a defect in the tip of the reed. The whole tip needs to 'hold together' left to right and a defect can let part of it, one side or the other, vibrate (whistle) very fast by itself. Gently bending the tip upward with the fleshy part of your finger and examining how it curves, can identify where the tip is not bending in a 'roundish' shape similar to the tip curve.

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 Re: Need help understanding the Harmonic Series
Author: Matt74 
Date:   2018-08-17 05:50

The harmonic series is a law of physics, but the actual pitches produced by a vibrating body are affected by the qualities and imperfections in the body.

The clarinet is the poster child for this, since as a stopped cylinder, it only produces the odd overtones. Another example is the trumpet, where it’s difficult to produce the fundamental. Overtones can be flat or sharp for various reasons. Some overtones are stronger than others in certain bodies, this is what gives instruments their unique timbre.

The series is G, G, D, G, B, D, F, A, or on the clarinet G, D, B, F. So you are probably getting an “F”, but it’s flat. This isn’t surprising when you think about how bad intonation can be on the regular scale/fingerings. I think that particular overtone (the seventh overtone) also “out of tune” or flat to western scales - they always have it in parentheses.

The B is harder to get than the F.

It’s easier for me to think about it as a string, because you can see the whole number relationships.

The wiki has some good illustrations.https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmonic_series_(music)

- Matthew Simington

Post Edited (2018-08-18 08:36)

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 Re: Need help understanding the Harmonic Series
Author: Matt74 
Date:   2018-08-17 05:54
Attachment:  0271C57E-6BA7-47CD-99F6-CD322BEF6CB6.png (50k)


- Matthew Simington

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 Re: Need help understanding the Harmonic Series
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2018-08-17 06:40


Well it's not really an imperfection as much as a tendency. Someone mentioned the "whistle" in the "Mouthpiece for Legere" thread. It is less so with the European Signature than the German cut but still present. I will address that back in that thread once I have one more component added to my trial.


Thank you for making it a bit easier to "get it." So the "B" in the series is impossible to achieve normally? It seems the more I get the unwanted overtone on command and realize just where that is, the less it shows up unexpectedly.

....................Paul Aviles

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 Re: Need help understanding the Harmonic Series
Author: Dibbs 
Date:   2018-08-17 12:47

They are very flat 7th harmonics (of G and G#).

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 Re: Need help understanding the Harmonic Series
Author: Brad Behn 
Date:   2018-08-17 17:40

Check to make sure your reed lies perfectly flat when you place it on a flat surface...especially near the tip.

Brad Behn

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 Re: Need help understanding the Harmonic Series
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2018-08-17 19:50

Hey Brad,

I don't always describe things in the best way and perhaps use a sort of shorthand kind of speech. Certainly my wife would say that I "let her in on the conversation that had been going on in my head for some time."

In an older post by "Yador," "Mouthpiece and Legere reeds, he writes that in trials with a Vandoren BD5 he got a consistent "whistling sound."

That set off a recall for me in that over the two years that I have been using Legere German cut reeds pretty successfully, there has been a tendency for an unpredictable squeak every so often (heretofore, with cane, I have NEVER had that tendency).

I had not up to recently ever tried the European Signatures or the Signature soprano reeds that are becoming industry standards for the "hot shot" clarinetists out there who use Legere. It was my belief going into this trial for myself that the squeaks that I experienced were due to the unusually narrow dimension of the German cut (allowing some unusual air disturbance to happen). However, within the first 30 seconds of trial with the European cut, I got a familiar sound that then (after Yador's description) came off like a whistle.

After a little time I find that there is less of this "squeaking" or "whistling" tendency with the European cut and the Signature soprano reeds BUT there is that ability to skip up the the 7th partial (talked about above) within the first five notes of the second register. It's kinda cool, because it makes some less obvious alternates for the altissimo easier, but it is a function of who the Legere reeds are.

The "solution" may very well be HOW you apply the ligature. I am finding that placing the ligature LOW (and I mean really low) on the reed and/or using the lightest possible tension will help to eliminate this tendency as a surprise.

...............Paul Aviles

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 Re: Need help understanding the Harmonic Series
Author: William 
Date:   2018-08-17 21:49

The overtones produced above a fundamental pitch are termed the "Just" harmonic series....or the series produced in nature. A scale on a piano may be tured perfectly to this "just" ratio, but it cannot then use those same notes in any other key. Example: the E in a perfectly tuned C major scale, will not be in tune in the A major scale. Therefore, you cannot tune your keyboard with an electronic tuner because it uses the "just" system. You must use the "tempered" system in tuning the piano or any set keyboard instrument so that you can go from one key to another and have everything sound in tune to our ears.
So, yes, when producing overtones on a clarinet, some of them will sound "out of tune" because we are so used to hearing intonation according to the tempered series rather than the just, which is what your clarinet is producing. That is also why it is so difficult, or impossible, to build a wind instrument that is perfectly in tune....that is why trumpets all have third valve triggers and we clarinetists have to lip certain notes up of down for acceptable ensemble intonation.

BTW......it is common joke that pianos are horribly out of tune (to natures perfect "just" harmonic series, that is)

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 Re: Need help understanding the Harmonic Series
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2018-08-17 22:54

Another note on the "just" tuning. A professor of mine at Full Sail has ears like a cat. He spent some time listening to actual "just tuned" music (each scale tuned appropriately to itself). He said that it "ruined" listening to Western music as we we know it for him! So the lesson there is, if you CAN Google examples, DON'T DO IT !!!!!

Also, I just found in the last hour as I received yet more European Signatures of the correct strength that I can easily play the three immediate upper partials on the top line "F." Previously I was only able to do such a thing with the bell stuffed up and fingering a Low "E."

I think I'll start practicing "Retreat" and "To the Colors!"

..............Paul Aviles

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 Re: Need help understanding the Harmonic Series
Author: Matt74 
Date:   2018-08-18 08:14

Paul, I had a hard time doing this when I saw it, but Tom Ridenour uses that overtone (B etc.) to play melodies using long fingerings instead of short ones to avoid “popping”. I imagine it’s easier on some clarinets than others - or for more competent players than myself. (I could never play that Rose etude right.)


This is also interesting, beginning at 3:30: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=nXTIYaCwQAM

- Matthew Simington

Post Edited (2018-08-18 08:49)

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