The overtone series is alive and well in every note you hear. In ~ the vibrations that a tone, or a note, over there are various other smaller vibrations that are occurring. We will start with the basic and watch deeper into the overtones, or harmonics, the occur and also at i beg your pardon order they appear. Us will likewise discuss timbre and other points that are influenced by and, likewise, influence specific overtones.

You are watching: What is the relationship between a fundamental note and its overtones


TONE- A musical sound the rings in ~ a particular frequency. The frequency determines what key the tone will sound as.

FREQUENCY- The variety of vibrations every second. Frequencies are measured in hertz (Hz). Because that example, the note A 440Hz vibrates at a frequency of 440 time per second.

HERTZ- The unit that measurement the is determined by the amount of times something vibrates in a second.

FUNDAMENTAL- This is the most significant tone the rings out. The tone the rings as the fundamental is regularly the note that is played. Because that example, if girlfriend play the A note over middle C, than that keep in mind (A 440) is thought about the fundamental. This is normally the many audible tone.

OVERTONE- This is a frequency or tone that is added to one more tone. This is also referred to together a "harmonic". The an essential is thought about the "1st harmonic". The "2nd harmonic" is recognized as the "1st overtone".

NODE- This is a suggest of minimal amplitude, whereby the vibration is separated into smaller sized vibrations.


THE complying with OVERTONE collection EXPLANATION will certainly BE BASED from THE an essential NOTE OF

A (110Hz).

OF COURSE, THIS collection COULD increase FROM ANY starting NOTE.

THE very same RATIOS will certainly APPLY.


The FUNDAMENTAL, in this case, will be the note

A (110Hz), 2 octaves listed below middle C. This graphic shows how the open low A string, top top a guitar, will vibrate as soon as you play it. The fundamental is recognized as the 1st HARMONIC.

While this cable is vibrating, there room sub divisions of the string the are additionally vibrating. These

"sub vibrations" are recognized as OVERTONES.

The first OVERTONE, in this case, will certainly be the note

A (220 Hz), one octave above the FUNDAMENTAL. This graphic shows how the open up low A string, on a guitar, is additionally vibrating in ~ a quieter volume at double the frequency. This 1st OVERTONE is ringing at a 2:1 ratio. There space 2 vibrations because that each 1 that the FUNDAMENTAL. The allude at the center of the string, from wherein this overtone originates and also vibrates outward, is described as a NODE.

The second OVERTONE, that this series, will be the keep in mind E (330 Hz), an octave + a perfect fifth above the FUNDAMENTAL. The proportion for this overtone is a 3:1 ratio, as shown below.

The third OVERTONE will be the note A (440 Hz), 2 octaves over the FUNDAMENTAL. The ratio for this overtone is a 4:1 ratio, as illustrated below.

The fourth OVERTONE will be the note C# (550 Hz), 2 octaves + a major 3rd above the FUNDAMENTAL.

The ratio for this overtone is a 5:1 ratio.

The fifth OVERTONE will certainly be the note E (660 Hz),

2 octaves + a perfect fifth above the FUNDAMENTAL.

The ratio for this overtone is a 6:1 ratio.

The sixth OVERTONE will certainly be the note G (770 Hz),

2 octaves + a minor 7th above the FUNDAMENTAL.

The ratio for this overtone is a 7:1 ratio.

Here is a watch at all of these together.

This sample doesn"t merely repeat. Together we move up in the series, other notes (such together the minor 3rd, the 9th and the 11th) are additionally present. They space barely audible, if at all. But they are, nevertheless, all existing within the fundamental tone.

The previous examples associated perfect ratios.

This is due to the fact that of the use of the "JUST TUNING" or "PYTHAGOREAN TUNING" system. Below, is the same diagram v the use of the "EQUAL TEMPERAMENT" system. Notice that rather of nice "round" numbers, we regularly get decimal points for some of these overtones (2nd, fourth and 6th).

-When friend think you room hearing a single note, you space actually hearing numerous other notes at quieter levels. This are well-known as "OVERTONES" or "HARMONICS".

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-Music in the Middle ages mainly featured notes based upon the first couple the overtones (the octave and also the 5th). Notes based upon other overtones became more common. The major 3rd (4th overtone) ended up being prevalent in the Renaissance and also the young 7th found its method into the Baroque era. This provided rise to the every popular V7 chord.