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Help With Artifical Harmonics

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Sep 22, 2020 - 12:49:34 PM
88 posts since 1/7/2019

I am trying to learn "Dobro Chimes" in Stacy Phillips's "The Dobro Book." I have read his instructions for doing these harmonics, and I am pretty sure that I have good grasp of the theory and practice of doing it. I cannot, however, figure out what he is doing in the tab for the song and how it relates to doing artificial harmonics. Can someone help me understand what I am missing?

In particular, the first artificial harmonic begins at the 11th fret. Am I barring the 11th fret and then doing the harmonic where the 23rd fret would be? If not, what does that mean? And then a few beats later, the harmonic is on a slant. Is that possible? Or do I slide into the slant from the previous harmonic? I can see that in this case there is a slide, I don't think that would work with all of the slants later on in the piece. 

I hope this does not turn to be a really obvious question, but I cannot make heads or tails of it.

(I posted a small portion of the tab from his book. From what I know, this would fall under fair use laws for copyright material. I can't see how to get the photo into this post.)




 

Edited by - toddborger on 09/22/2020 12:50:58

Sep 22, 2020 - 1:17:42 PM

docslyd

USA

241 posts since 11/27/2014

Todd:
Where the notes are connected by a set of "bars", the notes are either held for the timing or slid into depending on the tablature showing a "change" or a hold on the same position. Where the notes are struck with an artificial harmonic, likewise...you stike the notes with an artificial harmonic and hold them or strike them with the artificial harmonic and slide up to the next set of notes. You can play these type of harmonics on single strings or multiples as the case may be, in the same way, either using one finger, two or three. When two notes are played with a.h., think of striking them in a "pinching" sort of fashion. As far as what your picking hand is doing, you already realize that the palm of your right hand is dividing the distance from the bar to the bridge in half. Since you probably can't see your palm, you use your picking fingers for your reference, whether that be at the 23rd fret or wherever the position that you find the harmonic to be created. Shoot, much easier to show than explain. I hope that helps you, regarding Stacy's tab. You can play the harmonics from a slant position the same way, or from a straight bar position and sliding to the slant position. In any case, they take some practice. Your palm pulls up a microsecond after the strings are struck....try to time the microsecond with a stopwatch if you can (!).

Sep 22, 2020 - 1:48:13 PM

88 posts since 1/7/2019

Eric,
Thanks for writing back and thanks for what you added here. I think I have two specific questions, though.
1. The way Stacy does the tab, is the noted fret and string intended for my left-hand? (If so, it just seems like it goes awfully high. Later in the piece the harmonics are happening at the 17th fret.)
2. When he indicates a slanted harmonic, I just don't see how that is possible. I would have to also slant my right hand at the correct position and also be able to pick the strings. I understand the need for practice on this, but my mental picture of this feat looks like a bad game of Dobro Twister.

Sep 22, 2020 - 2:12:52 PM

88 posts since 1/7/2019

quote:
Originally posted by docslyd

Todd:
 You can play the harmonics from a slant position the same way, or from a straight bar position and sliding to the slant position.


Sorry, I just reread your post and saw this sentence. So that takes care of my Question 2. As far as question 1, I guess I know the answer, I just need to work on it. (Although I still don't believe slanted harmonics are possible. I'll have to take your word for it, until I can get my guitar out and try it. I was born a skeptic. Got it from my mom.)

Sep 22, 2020 - 2:16:22 PM

docslyd

USA

241 posts since 11/27/2014

2. ….sorry Todd, I think I understand what you're saying about "slanted" bar position and harmonics. In this case your right hand only needs to be close to the correct position. Artificial harmonics are just a little bit forgiving for palm position. You should still be able to sound the harmonic if your bar is slanted but your right hand is not. Part of the reason is, since the slant is far up the neck, the two notes are still pretty close together distancewise...so the "normal" right hand position works.

1. I haven't listened to Stacy's version of this song, but do have the book at home, so I'm going by my recollection of his intention in the tab. I may not understand the question...but the numbers always represent where your bar is positioned (the fret), whether slant or straight. Pick (with artificial harmonics, or whatever) the indicated strings with your right hand. I'm probably not getting what you're looking for, because I'm sure you understand this. When he plays at the 17th fret, that's where your bar is....Stacy liked to play way up the neck. In that case your picking/blocking/right hand is going to be pretty close to the bridge.

Sep 22, 2020 - 2:21:24 PM

docslyd

USA

241 posts since 11/27/2014

...thanks Todd...yeah, you gotta believe it's possible. You'll strike it a dozen times then you will hit that harmonic and become a believer. But don't believe anything else you hear these days. Regarding the techniques that Stacy has in his book, he definitely had a unique way of approaching melodies. His tabs and methods aren't always easy to get right or in precise pitch....but they are fun to try and learn from. If you haven't already...try his three string slants with the #2 string pulled up 1/2 step in pitch. Talk about twister....!!

Sep 22, 2020 - 2:38:06 PM

88 posts since 1/7/2019

quote:
Originally posted by docslyd

...thanks Todd...yeah, you gotta believe it's possible. You'll strike it a dozen times then you will hit that harmonic and become a believer. But don't believe anything else you hear these days. Regarding the techniques that Stacy has in his book, he definitely had a unique way of approaching melodies. His tabs and methods aren't always easy to get right or in precise pitch....but they are fun to try and learn from. If you haven't already...try his three string slants with the #2 string pulled up 1/2 step in pitch. Talk about twister....!!


Ha! I'm still pretty new at all this. I heard about string pulls some time back and thought I'd give it a try. I pulled a muscle in my leg and still haven't gotten over it. I'll wait on slants and pulls at the same time.

Edited by - toddborger on 09/22/2020 14:38:52

Sep 25, 2020 - 8:59:42 PM

1214 posts since 1/14/2011

quote:
Originally posted by toddborger

Help With Artifical Harmonics


I don't understand this. What are "artificial harmonics"? As far as I know, all harmonics are real.

Sep 26, 2020 - 5:50:19 AM
likes this

989 posts since 2/2/2011

quote:
Originally posted by Oboe Cadobro
quote:
Originally posted by toddborger

Help With Artifical Harmonics


I don't understand this. What are "artificial harmonics"? As far as I know, all harmonics are real.


Yeah. I think that's right. The term is just a semantic distinction between open string and fretted string harmonics AFAIK.

I could be wrong here but the term "artificial harmonics" seems to have been used for the last several decades by bass players particularly when referring to the melodic use of harmonic notes not played as "natural harmonics". The natural harmonics being those unfretted notes heard at the division of the open string at the fifth, seventh and twelfth frets and so on.

And we all know that you can do the same thing dividing the string length the same way for any fretted note or, in our steel guitar world, any place we put the bar. Just like that harmonic opening to Santo and Johnny's Sleepwalk.

Jaco Pastorius, God rest his soul, is the bass player for whom I first heard the "artificial" or "false" harmonics term used.  And I have to say that his playing was sort of a religious experience for many, including myself. His solo piece "Portrait of Tracy" is a great example of his harmonic techniques. "Dobro Chimes" for bass players.

I am gonna guess the terminology predates Jaco's playing.  But that's where I first heard it in the mid 1970's.

Edited by - Slidennis on 09/26/2020 05:56:40

Sep 26, 2020 - 11:22:01 AM

989 posts since 2/2/2011

Ok. I looked into the term "artificial harmonic" term a bit deeper to see where it comes from. And it is in fact a technique taught to classical string players - violin, viola, cello, bass.

The basic definition is to play a note stopping the string with the first finger and then lightly touch the string at the node for the perfect 4th above that note with the little finger.  Bass and cello players use the thumb to stop the string. The "artificial" part of the definition is that the finger stopping the string is creating an "artificial" or "false" nut as the case may be.  I could not make that up. Would have never thought of that logic.

Edited by - Slidennis on 09/26/2020 11:28:12

Sep 26, 2020 - 12:36:42 PM

2101 posts since 8/5/2008

I remember seeing a friend of mine (Gary Blodgett) using his little finger this way to get harmonics on his lap steel a long time ago. Never seen anyone do it since.

Sep 26, 2020 - 5:40:44 PM

88 posts since 1/7/2019

Wow, I didn't imagine the term "artificial harmonics" would be controversial. I was just using the term used in the Stacy Phillips book and also by Rob Ickes on his website. I don't know of another way to refer to them.
Artificial is not the opposite of real, but the opposite of occurring in nature. It is made by skill, according to the Latin etymology.
Dennis, thanks for the research. Good stuff.

Sep 27, 2020 - 6:10:48 AM

170 posts since 7/9/2010

Hello,

Artificial means it is not natural. Natural is open at the twelfth fret, midpoint of the string. The technique is using the right hand to create the harmonic where ever the left hand bar is placed. The harmonic Root is always the middle. The 4th Harmonic is 5 frets past the Nut or the Bar. The 5th is 7 frets.

Use the pinky and thumb. The pinky is located at one of the three possible harmonic places. The thumb is where it can strike the string in-line with the pinky. Some players are dramatic when using bar harmonics.

Edited by - AradoReso on 09/27/2020 06:11:55

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