Tip #64 – Natural Influences from the Harmonic Series

Sometimes, musical influence can come from nature, natural phenomenon, events, science, math, etc.

How about basing a piece, a scale, a harmonic progression… whatever you can think of, around the Harmonic Series of overtones.

The harmonic series comes from the production of sounded overtones which each fractional division of a vibrating string’s wavelength. It is an infinitely divergent series of wavelengths, pitches, and corresponding notes produced. Below is a small account of the first 12 overtones:

It should be noted that mathematically, some of the overtones do not fit exactly to what is should be in the tempered 12-tone system of Western notation. Those with extreme and noticeable deviations from the Western “norm” have been marked with a downwards-arrow symbol above the designated pitch of interest.

Regardless, one could take this phenomenon and use it as a scale, the underlining harmony to a progression, a start to a 12-tone row, etc. Be creative and have fun with it!

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