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Harmonic Notes

Natural And Artificial on Classical Guitar

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"Harmonic - Pertaining to harmony, as distinguished from melody and rhythm..."

There are two different types that are played on the guitar strings, natural and artificial. The natural ones are played on the open strings of the guitar and are particularly clear at the 5th, 7th, 9th and 12th frets.

To play a "natural", you need to place your finger on the string directly above the fret, rather than just before it as you do when you are fingering a note. Next you pluck the string with your right hand. Then you remove your left hand finger from the string. You'll get a clearer tone if you pluck the string closer to the bridge. Try it on your guitar.


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Artificial types are performed with the left finger on a note as normal. The right hand "i" finger touches the string at the point where the note is produced, and the "a" finger (usually) of the right hands plucks the string. This is more difficult than playing open string ones.

This graphic shows you how you play them properly from Play Classical Guitar by David Braid...

Here's a little Carcassi piece called "Galop", which employs the use of this great technique on the open strings...

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As mentioned above, because the left hand is fingering a note on the fretboard the right hand has to both play the note with the index finger and also pluck the string with the annular or "a" finger. It is an aesthetically pleasing additional technique for guitarists which really adds to the charm of our instrument.

They give a beautiful bell-like sound when played properly. There is a large amount of music for classical guitar that uses these techniques, so it is worth your while learning them properly. For more than just harmonic techniques click here...

Here is a quote from wikipedia about the physics of a these notes...

"A harmonic of a wave is a component frequency of the signal that is an integer multiple of the fundamental frequency, i.e. if the fundamental frequency is f, they have frequencies 2f, 3f, 4f, . . . etc. The the property that they are all periodic at the fundamental frequency, therefore the sum of is also periodic at that frequency. As multiples of the fundamental frequency, successive notes can be found by repeatedly adding the fundamental frequency. For example, if the fundamental frequency is 25 Hz, the frequencies of the next ones are: 50 Hz , 75 Hz , 100 Hz etc."

More on Harmonic Notes...

You can read the whole article here...

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Welcome to LCG! I'm Trevor Maurice, owner of this site. I hope you find inspiration in these pages to help you with  your journey of learning to play the classical guitar. You can read more of my story here...

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