Overtone harmonics

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As Obertonharmonik or Obertonmelodik refers to a kind of harmony in music.

In overtone harmony, the scales are not based on mathematically determined scales such as whole or semitones, but on the overtones of a fundamental. Melodies and chords adhere to a relatively rigid scheme.

Overtone scheme

Overtones are tones that sound when playing a fundamental. They correspond to a multiple of the frequency of the fundamental. The most important overtones of a fundamental are as follows:

Comparison with keynote Interval to the
previous tone
Frequency ratio to the
previous tone
example Frequency (Hz)
Keynote C. 66
double frequency octave 2: 1 c 132
triple frequency Quint 3: 2 G 198
quadruple frequency quart 4: 3 c ' 264
five times the frequency Major third 5: 4 e ' 330
six times the frequency Minor third 6: 5 G' 396
seven times the frequency b ' 462 (see below: Naturseptime )
eight times the frequency c '' 528
nine times the frequency large whole tone 9: 8 d '' 594
ten times the frequency small whole tone 10: 9 e '' 660

The seventh between the 4th and the 7th overtone (in the example: c'b ' ) is called a natural seventh , as it is slightly smaller than the so-called pure minor seventh.

The overtone harmonics mostly only use the lower overtones listed here. Sometimes the overtone harmonic is also combined with the pentatonic , as in Andean music.


The overtone harmonics are particularly common in traditional musical styles in Asia and South America . It has a special meaning in the traditional music of the Andean countries ( Andean music ), which only adopted the diatonic system after the arrival of the Spaniards in the 15th century .

See also

Partial tone series , tuning (music) , cent (music) , chromatic scale , pure tuning , temperature (music) , tempered tuning , well -tempered tuning , equal tuning , Shepard scale