Please help me Scott Cole, Carmen Tanzio and others
About a year ago I posted about overtones and how to achieve what kind of sound. From the answers received, it became clear that playing closer to the bridge produces more higher harmonics.
Now I have 2 questions:
1. Since playing closer to the bridge produces more higher harmonics, does this mean bowing near the fingerboard produces more fundamental, or does the level of fundamental more or less stay the same? Furthermore, is a change in the level of fundamental even as audible as a change in upper harmonics? I am assuming not.
2. Why exactly does playing near the bridge produce more higher harmonics as opposed to playing at the fingerboard? Of course I'm sure it has to do with the general setup of the instrument, in particular that the bridge is nearer to the soundpost and is closer to the afterlength. I guess this question could also be rephrased as 'why does bowing right next to your left hand finger create such a horrible sound?'
I do not own a smartphone so I cannot use any spectral analysis software. Look forward to your replies
James, from the perspective of classical physics, the "ideal" impulse from the bow would be in resonance with the fundamental. Analogies are usually poor, but here goes. Supposed you have a child on a swingset. Initially it takes a bit of work to bring the child into steady, rhythmic motion (a fundamental frequency determined by the weight of the child and the length of the chains on the seat). But afterward, what you find is that it takes just a tiny push every time around to maintain that motion. However, the tiny push needs to be timed properly otherwise there are disturbances in the regular motion.
I think Paul is on the right track. You can suppress the overtones with a mute on the bridge OR by bowing over the fingerboard or closer to it (helps to know that if you forgot to bring mute and no one will lend you one).
What you want is the optimum point of contact; the spot where your ear tells you that you are getting your best quality sound, the best mix of fundamental, overtones, and white noise. I have read that the spot is about 1/9 of the string length for each different note, which nobody thinks about when they play. That spot also varies with loudness, and the thickness of the string. The equivalent spot is closer to the bridge for the E string, compared to the G string. Two extreme cases: Ponticello is very close to the bridge; you get little fundamental but a lot of overtones and white noise. When the bow is too far from the bridge the hair stops the desired vibrations, it chokes or cracks instead
Of course, you combine all this with bow angle, pressure, speed, and vibrato to optimize the effect you want.
The bow tugs the string to one side during something called the "stick" phase, i.e., the string is stuck to the bow hairs and moves along with it. It "sticks" to the bow hairs.
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