All About Violin Harmonics | Online Violin Lessons

All About Violin Harmonics | Online Violin Lessons

 

 

Harmonics can seem confusing and complicated at first, but they are actually some of the easiest notes to play on the violin. And while it can be difficult to understand the science behind how they actually work, you don’t need to know anything about auditory science to successfully perform harmonics. Let’s dive into common questions about violin harmonics.

 

What is a harmonic?

A harmonic is an overtone that is created when you lightly touch the string with your finger without pushing the string all the way down to the fingerboard. “Overtone” is just a fancy word for a note that sounds higher than the written note.

 

How do harmonics work?

When you play a harmonic, you are essentially “shortening” the length of the string by stopping the vibration of the string at certain points on the instrument. The bridge of the violin usually does this, but by adding a finger lightly to the string you are “dividing” the string, which creates a shorter area of vibration and a higher pitch.

 

How do you play harmonics on the violin?

Harmonics are created by lightly touching the string with the pad of your finger. There are only certain points on the violin that allow you to make a harmonic. These points are where you divide the string into halfs, thirds, fourths, and fifths. Harmonics will only sound when you put your finger in just the right spot, which makes using harmonics great for intonation work.

Normal left hand violin technique requires you to play on the tips of curved fingers, but for harmonics it will be easier to find the right spot with flat fingers. Using the finger pads, rather than the fingertips, gives you more surface area of skin to work with. See my Instagram reel on harmonics for a visual on how this works!

 

What types of harmonics are there?

There are two main types of hamonics on the violin; natural and artificial. Natural harmonics are created by using only one finger whereas artificial harmonics are executed with two fingers. To play an artificial harmonic, press your first finger all the way down to the fingerboard and lightly touch your fourth finger to the top of the string, the way you would with a natural harmonic. You can see natural vs artificial harmonics in action here!

 

Conclusion

Adding harmonics to your pieces is a simple way to add some artistry to your playing. They may seem intimidating at first, but with a little practice you can master harmonics with ease.

 

Looking for ways to improve your violin playing? Read about tonalization here!

 

Heather

 

I’d love to work with you! Please contact me for more information about music lessons!

 

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