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Music based on the overtone series

The overtone series can be mathematically generated by frequency ratios 1/1, 2/1, 3/1, 4/1, 5/1, 6/1, 7/1... ad infinitum.
The undertone series is its inversion: 1/1, 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/5, 1/6, 1/7... ad infinitum.
Steps between adjacent members of either series are called "superparticular," and they appear in the form (n+1)/n, eg. 4/3, 28/27, 33/32...

In just intonation theory, the overtone series is often treated as the foundation of consonance. The chord of nature is the name sometimes given to the overtone series, or the series up to a certain stopping point, regarded as a chord.

One might compose with the overtone series by, for instance:
  • Tuning to the first several overtones over one fundamental.
  • Tuning to an octave-repeating slice of the overtone series for use as a scale (for instance overtones 8 though 16, 12 through 24, 20 through 40... see Overtone Scales).
  • Tuning to the overtones of the overtones.
  • Tuning to the overtones of the overtones & the undertones of the undertones. (This can produce complex scales such as Harry Partch's 43-tone Monophonic; this kind of thing is more often called "just intonation" than "overtone music".)

External links

Spectral music article on wikipedia
www.naturton-musik.de - web site dedicated to overtone music (by austrian composer Johannes Kotschy) - a lot of theory material and practical guides to write music based on the overtone series
Overtone music network - a portal for overtone music.
Oberton-Netzwerk (Xing) - german-speaking group dedicated to overtone music on the social network platform Xing. Microtonal music in general is welcome, too.

Some individual compositions

Drone Inside An Harmonic Series by Norbert Oldani
Threnody play by Dave Seidel
Owllight play by Dave Seidel
Palimsest play by Dave Seidel
Immanent Sphere play by William Sethares
Chord Progression on the Harmonic Overtone Series play by Dave Hill
Rock Trio in Harmonic Series play by Chris Vaisvil
Planetary Ripples by Richard Burdick

Stimmung by Karlheinz Stockhausen
Symphony No.3 (Gloria) by Glenn Branca
Various by Georg Friedrich Haas

Various played with Fujara (slovak overtone flute)
Various by SoundWell ("Snake" overtone flute)
Various by Spectral Voices (meditative new age with overtone singing)
Various by Stimmhorn (experimental alphorn and yodeling combined with overtone singing)

See also: