Harmonics on Q2
For the week of Septemer 13 from Nadia Sirota on Q2 I<3 Harmonics
Nadia tell us, “Harmonics, or overtones, exist at the crossroads of music and physics. They are the components sound that create color and timbre, and when isolated, they sound like an ethereal whistle. Like magnets, harmonics (to me!) seem almost magical and unexplainable, yet they are the most basic component of sound.
This week on the show, we’ll take a closer look at the influence of harmonics on compositions. From Tuvan throat singing to spectralism, harmonics have served as inspiration for countless composers and musicians.
Warning: we’re gonna move fast through centuries and continents, exploring the various ways composers use harmonics to create texture. Since we’re moving at breakneck speed, here are some definitions and resources:
Just Intonation is a system of tuning based on the harmonic series, as opposed to the equal temperament scale we are used to.
Spectral Music is a compositional movement that found its nexus in France in the 1970’s. Music in this style uses various sonic spectra as building blocks as opposed to, say, a 12-tone row.
Subharmonics are a crazy, as yet unexplained phenomena caused by applying “too much” bow pressure on a string instrument, causing a note lower than the fingered pitch to pop out.