March 27, 2016 at 3:50 pm #14719
I am presently learning to play harmonics and I have a question.
When playing harmonics, do you touch the string with the fingertip as you would playing a stopped note, or do you touch the string with the pad of the finger?March 29, 2016 at 9:31 pm #14729
Hi William! It depends on which harmonic you’re playing. If you are playing the natural harmonic located just beyond 3rd position, straighten out the pinkie and play it with the pad of your finger. There are additional natural harmonics located just under the fingertips, too. An example: Each 1st position, 3rd finger – on D, A and E string. You should use the fingertip to play these. You can also produce ‘fingered’ harmonics anywhere on the violin by playing the 1st finger normally, then using the 4th finger as the harmonic. I found a good video that explains harmonics on the violin and include it below. The locations he shows on the G string apply on all strings in the same locations.
An interesting experiment I often demonstrate to my students when introducing harmonics involves placing the side edge of a single sheet of paper at the location of the natural harmonic on E string. This shows you how very lightly you must touch the string. Any more ‘heaviness’ from the finger will not produce the harmonic. It is often difficult to play the fast, heavy bow required to produce the harmonic, with an airy, light fingertip when first trying the harmonics on the violin. When we start experimenting with fingered harmonics, it can further confuse the mind!March 30, 2016 at 6:10 pm #14734
Thank you Dianne.
I found this video on my own after I posted my question… and I paid attention to what William said and did. My teacher also told me that I should feel a “tickling sensation” in my fingertips as I was doing it, but, alas, my fingertips are numb, so I listen for the clear, ringing sound of the harmonics.
I am presently working on Mollenhaur’s fantasia, The Boy Paganini, as my introduction to natural harmonics, spicatto, and left hand pizzicato… Also double stops (other than my studies in Josephine Trott’s studies).March 30, 2016 at 6:14 pm #14735
I will post a video when I have it down a bit better.April 13, 2016 at 9:03 pm #14876
I am confused about the difference between fingered and natural harmonics. Aren’t they played the same way, with a light touch on the string?April 20, 2016 at 7:21 pm #15144
Harmonics can be confusing. I’m learning them too. Natural harmonics are produced on open strings, and artificial (fingered) or stopped harmonics are produced on stopped strings. Natural harmonics are indicated either by a small “o” written above the note to be lightly touched, and by a small diamond shape at a specific point on the string where the finger should be lightly placed.April 20, 2016 at 7:25 pm #15145
Hello again, Caroll…
Here’s a link to more information about harmonics that I found helpful.April 24, 2016 at 12:36 am #15301
Thanks, Christie. I looked up the site and it will be helpful. I found the video confusing.