View Full Version : Overtones?

02-18-2011, 06:17 AM
Hello all, I've recently began studying overtones and the principles behind it. Im still quite a newbie regarding this and Ive watched some fascinating videos on youtube how to "easily" sing overtones. Now Im trying to see how well different instruments can do these tones - and of course Im wondering how well it can be done on a ukulele? If you have any video or examples posted here on the board I would greatly appreciate it. And of course personal tips, etc. Thanks! (p.s. Im also quite a newbie with ukulele playing)

02-18-2011, 06:23 AM
Aloha Mylele,
Welcome to UU and the forum. Sorry, can't help you on your question but someone here will. Have fun...............BO..............

mm stan
02-18-2011, 07:26 AM
Aloha Mylele,
Welcome to the UU and our forums and the ukulele.....have fun and enjoy...not sure on overtone for singing...google Musicteacher2010 and Keonepax for Awesome ukulele video tutorials and Dr Uke for songs
chords and instruction..Happy Strummings..MM Stan

02-18-2011, 09:05 AM
Im trying to see how well different instruments can do these tones - and of course Im wondering how well it can be done on a ukulele?

Hi MyLele

An overtone frequency can be produced on ukulele and is usually called harmonics. The terminology can be messed up and confusing.

If you pluck an open string (nothing fretted), you will prodce a certain frequency (fundamental frequency). You can produce the twice of fundamental if you put your index finger ona string over the 12th fret. You do *not* fret. YOu just put your fingertip right above the 12th fretwire. Then you pluck the string. Yu will hear a clear high-pitched sound. That's harmonics, and the frequency is twice of the fundamental (first overtone)

You can do the same if you touch 7th fret. The harmonics is one octave and 5th above, that is, three times the fundamental frequency (2nd overtone). This is a bit difficult.

If you do this on the 5th fret, the sound is four times the fundamental (3rd overtone).

YOu can do higher and higher but most ukuleles do not have the range to produce these frequencies.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UOypfd00Hw (it's not me but he did a nice job)


To be exact, the 12th fret harmonics contains all 2x, 4x, 6x, 8x etc of the fundamental. The 7th fret harmonics is 3x 6x 9x the fundamental.

Also, 7th fret harmonics is not exactly equal to one octave and 5th since it's usually in well-tempered scale, and harmonics are integer multiples.


By the way, 12th fret is "exactly" one half length of the string; 7th fret is 2/3 (or 1/3) of scale length; 5th fret is 3/4 length. "Exactly" but for the compensation......


02-18-2011, 11:34 AM
Thanks for turning me onto vocal overtones--fun to play with. Overtones are a result of the structure of your uke and strings--how the primary note played reverberates also at faster frequencies. I think, like Chief above, that what you are seeking is harmonics.

02-18-2011, 11:38 AM
Because of the string tension and resonant properties of most ukuleles, it's hard to get harmonics to ring other than 7th and 12th fret (at least in my limited experience). So, artificial harmonics are often the way to go, and have been written for ukulele since Ernest Ka'ai in the very early 1900s. To get these, you fret a note normally, then put your index finger over the fret 12 frets higher, and use your thumb to pluck the string. So, if you fret the 2nd fret, you touch your index finger to the 14th fret. This is a way you can play melodies with harmonics.

When you play any note, you actually sound all the harmonics above it. When we say playing harmonics, it's just a way to isolate particular partials.

BTW, singing overtones, usually called throat singing, is not easy for most people. It takes a LOT of practice, and very good control of tongue, lips, and mouth. I can get an octave on a good day, and have done a 12th (an octave and a 5th) a few times. I had a student 2 years ago who was pretty good at it, but he practiced hours and hours.

Throat singing and ukulele. I think that would be new................