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Charts of Semitonic and Quartertonic Multiphonics

Chart of Semitonic Multiphonics

The charts show the finger positions of the most usable semitonic multiphonics, on each string up to the 4th octave. The central harmonic nodes (9°, 11°, 13° and 22°) indicate possible placements of the bow, and the general numbers shown in the charts include all positions explained in figures 1 and 2 in the chapter on the bow. Bow positions that are practically unusable, and even impossible, are listed in the parentheses after the indication of the general central harmonic node. These exceptions may vary from player to player and between instruments, but my listings provide anyway a well-tested and general foundation for the use of multiphonics.

The consideration of the playability of multiphonics quickly becomes an intimately personal matter. The instrument set-up, choice of strings, and the performers own style of playing, are all decisive qualities. Yet, I try to implement a general comparison between the different multiphonics and make an overall division in difficulty. Most multiphonics has one or several contact points for the bow on the string where it is easier to play the multiphonics than on other contact points. Consequently, a multiphonics that is classified as ‘difficult’ may also have a contact point for the bow where it is easier to produce the chord.

The maj3, 5th and min7 of the third octave, as well as the fourth octave semitonic multiphonics are played in a similar way, and with a similar type of bow resistance, as bow-above-finger (first-class) multiphonics. They also sound similar, but are slightly more difficult in controlling the stability of the cords.

Chart of Quartertonic Multiphonics

Quartertonic multiphonics is more difficult to play than semitonic multiphonics. It is at this time not appropriate to include more quartertonic multiphonics in the table due to the difficulties of placing the finger at the exact point on the string, and thus bring out the defined overtone in the given position.

In the prescription of the bow positions for quartertonic multiphonics, I add also the levels above the main central harmonic nodes to the chart. For example, the levels above the 11th central harmonic node are notated as 22 and 33 (indicating the 22. and 33. harmonic node). This comes in addition to the level below the central harmonic node, notated as 11↓, which is also used for the semitonic multiphonics.

The bow node positions for quartertonic multiphonics are illustrated in figure 1. Descriptions of the bow node positions are given the chapter on the bow. Only the central harmonic nodes are indicated in the chart of quartertonic multiphonics, but all bow positions in figure 1 apply. Within the first position (for quartertonic multiphonics) on each string it is possible, by very small changes in the finger position, to bring out the 7th, 8th or 9th harmonic partial. Different bow placements must be used to create multiphonics on each of these harmonic partials, which is indicated in the chart. The 8th and 9th harmonic partials are situated very close to the precise placement of for example a quartertone above A on the G-string. By moving the finger slightly closer to the perfect A, the 7th harmonic partial can be established as the sounding harmonic partial.

It is relatively easy to play all quartertonic multiphonics, provided that the finger and bow positions are exact. It becomes more easy to play the multiphonics as the bow moves closer to the bridge, as it is usually more difficult to hit the exact node for the bow in the lower positions.

Fig. 1. Bow node positions for quartertonic multiphonics

27 33
18 22 26
9 11 13
9↓ 11↓ 13↓