Artificial harmonic playback

I wonder how to send artificial playback messages to an external sample library. I created some artificial harmonics (art harmonic.png) and if you look at the playback lane (nat harmonic.png) you’ll notice that the active technique is ‘Natural harmonic 1’. So how do you make the difference between artificial and natural harmonics? I read on the forum that this works for noteperformer, I wonder how they do this?
nat harmonic.PNG

you can just change from artificial to natural harmonics in the properties – the natural string harmonics are based on the actual unstopped strings and are thus shown at pitch in the default Dorico settings as here with a comparison to artificial. Or perhaps I’ve misunderstood the question. Others will no doubt chip in as Harmonics seems a popular topic for discussion.

Paul will have to correct me if I’m wrong, but I think Dorico will output the same harmonics playing technique for natural and artificial harmonics.

That is correct.

Regarding the actual playing techniques, probably most libraries will not have separate patches for artificial and natural as the sound is effectively the same. VSL for instance has a staccato and sustain version but no distinction between nat and art. NotePerformer supports nat. harmonics/written pitch and artificial in Sibelius but I can’t hear that either there or in Dorico, the sound is different as there’s no logical reason why it should be. Until Paul shoots us both down, I’m sure Daniel is correct!

UPDATE I see Paul has just confirmed

First, there’s a quality difference between artificial and natural harmonics. It’s like an open string that sounds different than the same note fretted.
Henry Brant says in his orchestrator handbook and I quote: ‘natural harmonics are not only fuller and more resonant, but tend to produce more volume, even in pp’.
Second, the VSL solo strings do have different patches between artificial and natural harmonics.

But then again you could use the artificial harmonics, if you don’t have another option.

The natural harmonics in the solo strings are at this moment not usable in Dorico because they’re layout as a percussion patch over the keyboard,
so in the properties you should be able to specify a certain pitch to make it work.

Curiously in the Cubase Expression Map for VSL strings, only natural harmonics 1 seem to be offered. If I set that to play artificial (patch VI_harm-art_sus) I get what I usually want and get the notation through the Properties panel. I suspect it would be a pain to get the natural harmonic patch to work in Dorico as things stand but I don’t really need to go there.

There is a very logical reason why it should be (and is) different unfretted instruments. For a natural harmonic, both ends of the string are “stopped” by fixed, hard, and relatively sharp-edged objects (the nut and the bridge). For an artificial harmonic, one end is stopped by a relatively squishy finger.

That doesn’t apply on fretted instruments such as guitar where the note is (usually) stopped by the fret, not by the finger.

In the early days of violin technique, octave natural harmonics were often used (without explicit indication in the score) in the same way as open strings - to get a non-vibrato sound which was undamped if the following note was played on a different string. Of course in the 19th century, with the increasing use of continuous vibrato, open strings in general were avoided.

I wrote the initial post before hearing the comparison from my wife and actually meant to remove the sentence about no logical reason why there should be a difference which even when I wrote it, I realised was rather too much of a simplification and probably based on something I’d recently read. Anyway, thanks for clarifying one or two things.

So it’s normal that the very same note is being played back as an harmonic if you choose ‘artificial’ and not played back if you choose ‘natural’?
For example the D on a double-bass.
This works and is played back as written:
Bildschirmfoto 2020-06-21 um 15.11.21.png
This doesn’t work:
Bildschirmfoto 2020-06-21 um 15.10.48.png
So what do I have to do, if I want a natural harmonic notated as above AND being played back correctly?
Is it somehow possible or not at all?


they are not the same note. the second picture is one octave too low. With circle notation, the notated and sounding pitch are the same. A fourth harmonic is two octaves higher than the notated (root) pitch.

A natural harmonic will be played back correctly. Remember to set the string property correctly, as some harmonics can be played on multiple strings (especially when setting the diamond notehead natural harmonic).
For bowed strings, don’t use the filled notehead, as it is meant for guitar and will not play back correctly with bowed strings.

I think I wrote a somewhat detailed procedure here somewhere in the forum in another thread.

Natural harmonics in the solo strings are at this moment not usable in Dorico, this is only for the VSL Solo Strings library.
Dorico is triggering the sounding notes but the natural harmonics in VSL Solo Strings are not layout this way on the keyboard. Using the artificial harmonics can be a workaround.

It is possible to use the vsl natural harmonics using the transposition function in the xmaps and creating a playing technique . But warning : be prepared to spend hours in front of your computer wondering why in hell do you even bother…,

If Dorico is only triggering the sounding notes, with no extra information, that is insufficient in general.

For example on a violin, sounding D5 as the third harmonic on the G string or the second harmonic on the D string will not be the same sample in a “complete” sample library, and you should be able to hear the difference in timbre.

For a simpler library, or software like NotePerformer, this difference will be ignored.

you’re right. Bob – now that I have the Synchronized version of the VSL Solo strings, I’ve been playing around a bit and it’s not hard to hear the difference. But, like Queb, I wonder whether the natural harmonics are really worth the hassle of programming in Dorico unless you use the technique a good deal. In NotePerformer the samples accuracy is not advanced enough to bother with such stuff.

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