harmonic

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har·mon·ic / härˈmänik/ • adj. 1. of, relating to, or characterized by musical harmony: a basic four-chord harmonic sequence. ∎ Mus. relating to or denoting a harmonic or harmonics. 2. Math. of or relating to a harmonic progression. ∎  Physics of or relating to component frequencies of a complex oscillation or wave. ∎  Astrol. using or produced by the application of a harmonic: harmonic charts. • n. 1. Mus. an overtone accompanying a fundamental tone at a fixed interval, produced by vibration of a string, column of air, etc., in an exact fraction of its length. ∎  a note produced on a musical instrument as an overtone, e.g., by lightly touching a string while sounding it. 2. Physics a component frequency of an oscillation or wave. ∎  Astrol. a division of the zodiacal circle by a specified number, used in the interpretation of a birth chart. DERIVATIVES: har·mon·i·cal·ly / -ik(ə)lē/ adv.

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harmonic:1 Physical term describing the vibration in segments of a sound-producing body (see sound). A string vibrates simultaneously in its whole length and in segments of halves, thirds, fourths, etc. These segments form what is known in algebra as a harmonic series or progression, since the rate of vibration of each segment is an integral multiple of the frequency of the whole string, i.e., each segment vibrates respectively twice, three times, four times, etc., as fast as the whole string. The vibration of the whole string produces the fundamental tone, and the segments produce weaker subsidiary tones. A similar phenomenon occurs in an air column in a pipe. At most the first 16 tones in such a series can be heard by the human ear; the character or timbre of a fundamental tone is determined by the number of its subsidiary tones heard and their relative intensity. The subsidiary tones have been loosely called harmonics (as a noun), but they are properly called partials, the fundamental tone being the first partial. They are also called overtones (a synonym for "upper partials" ), although this term includes a number of sounds that do not fit in with the harmonic series, and are therefore not considered musical. 2 Term describing the silvery sound produced separately when the fundamental and possibly more partial tones are damped by touching a string at a nodal point. Similarly harmonics are produced separately in an air column by overblowing or in brass wind instruments by the use of valves.

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harmonic A frequency which is a whole multiple of the fundamental frequency; thus the second harmonic has twice the fundamental frequency, the third harmonic three times, etc.