[Smt-talk] Brass Overtones

etanmoonstar at gmail.com etanmoonstar at gmail.com
Wed Jul 23 15:08:04 PDT 2014

I’m afraid that, as a trombonist as well as a theorist, I must chime in with a slight correction. Trombones, at least, are not in fact built to play in equal temperament. Every trombonist learns to make the slide adjustments necessary to play in tune with equally-tempered instruments; as would be expected by comparing just intonation to equal temperament, our 3rd/6th/etc. partials are naturally a bit high, our 5th and 10th partials are naturally low, and our 7th partial is so flat that first position is unusable in this partial. I am not trained enough on other brass instruments to speak regarding their natural tuning inclinations 100% from personal experience, but I do know that my trumpeter friends often make lip adjustments or adjust a small tubing extension with their little finger to play in tune. Whether brass instrument tuning justifies the derivation of western pitch collections, intervals, and particularly triads from the overtone series is, as evidenced by this particular thread of discussion, a separate matter entirely.

Nathan Baker

Music Theory Coordinator

Chair, Faculty Senate

Casper College, Wyoming

nbaker at caspercollege.edu

Message: 1
Date: Wed, 23 Jul 2014 10:51:48 +0200
From: Nicolas Mee?s <nicolas.meeus at scarlet.be>
To: CARSON FARLEY <ccfarley at embarqmail.com>,
 smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org
Subject: Re: [Smt-talk] Harmonics
Message-ID: <53CF77A4.3060404 at scarlet.be>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"; Format="flowed"

It is disappointing to see that the same misunderstandings come back and 
again. In such conditions, the whole discussion is pointless. Let me try 
for the last time:

1. The question of enharmonic notes produced on a string or overblowing 
a wind instrument and that of harmonic overtones are only remotely 
related. Consider the following facts:
? Brass winds usually are built today to play in ET. This is obtained by 
complex adjustments of the bore, with the result that the different 
notes obtained by overblowing correspond to those in ET and not to just 
intonation. Yet, these instruments still can produce harmonic overtones 
for each of their notes, the harmonicity of overtones in this case being 
more dependent on the conditions of blowing than on conditions of the bore.
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