Active Listening

Tip 23: Use a Piano to Practice Listening for Harmonics

Increase your musical awareness by listening for harmonics.

Find a piano, place your foot above the sustain (loud) pedal, but don’t press it down. Hit a low note hard and fast, and as soon as you let go of the key, put your foot down on the foot pedal. You should hear a few notes sounding higher up.

Note: This will only work with a real piano, not an electric keyboard!

Try to focus in on these notes and sing them, then figure out what notes they are. These are the ‘harmonics’ (or ‘overtones’) of the note you hit, and they follow a specific pattern. Try the exercise a few times with differ- ent bass notes and notice what each one has in common.

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