Magazine article Guitar Player

Harmonic Intervals

Magazine article Guitar Player

Harmonic Intervals

Article excerpt

THERE'S NOTHING AS effective as harmonics for adding high, shimmering sounds to a passage. You're probably familiar with the standard ways to play natural, open-string harmonics, as well as artificial harmonics created on a fretted string by selecting and playing the harmonic with your picking hand.

You can also get some beautiful effects playing intervals composed of harmonics, which is what we'll explore in this lesson.

Fourths. To get octave harmonics in fourths, lightly touch the open high-E and B strings at the 12th fret (one octave higher than the open strings) with the tip of your picking-hand index finger. Pluck B with your thumb and E with your ring finger. Easy.

Now change the interval's pitch with artificial harmonics: For example, barre at the 1st fret and touch the harmonics on the 13th fret. To get octave harmonics in fourths anywhere on the top two strings, simply touch them 12 frets higher than where you're fretting. Three other string pairs yield fourth harmonics as well: strings four and three, five and four, and six and five.

Major thirds. To generate octave harmonics in thirds, play the open-B and G strings, and lightly touch them at the 12th fret. As with fourths, you can move these major-third chimes up the fretboard using artificial harmonics.

Use a slanted fingering on the top two strings to play octave harmonics in major thirds: Fret C on the second string, and slant your right index finger to touch the first string at the 12th fret and the second string at the 13th fret. Touch the upper harmonic with your fingertip and the lower harmonic near your first joint. Pluck both strings as before. Try moving these major thirds up the neck.

Minor thirds. The next lower string set hosts slanted minor-third harmonics. To hear that sound, fret B (third string, 4th fret) and D (second string, 3rd fret), and touch and pluck their harmonics at the 16th and 15th frets. …

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