Mutes on

A damper is attached to the bridge to mute the sound. Notated: con sord (Germ. mit Dämpfer). There are two types of mute: the clamp type (Ma Sihon) which is placed on the bridge, and the sliding type (Roth-Sihon) which is permanently attached to the strings. It is usually best to allow about 5 seconds for players to put on or remove a mute.
con sord, piano
con sord, forte

Mutes off

The mute is removed. Notated: senza sord. No need to specify this unless a muted passage has preceded.

natural harmonic

Natural Harmonics

The string is lightly fingered at a nodal point to produce a "fluted" sound. The notation of natural harmonics is often inconsistent. Frequently it is either just a circle over the note, as shown above, or the word harm, or indeed a diamond notehead to indicate finger position, or some combination of the above! To be completely accurate, a harmonic would be notated thus:harmonic notation Here, the large round notehead indicates the fundamental (open G-string in this case), the diamond notehead indicates the finger position and the small note in brackets is the resulting sound. However, violists would probably regard this as over-fussy for a straightforward natural harmonic. The nodal points on a string are as follows:
1/2 (gives 8ve above open string)
1/3 (gives 8ve+5th above open string)
1/4 (gives 2x8ves above open string)
1/5 (gives 2x8ves+maj3rd above open string)
There are more natural harmonics, but these are relatively unreliable.

artificial harmonic

Artificial Harmonics

The string is stopped normally, and then fingered (with the little finger) at a point a 4th or a 5th above the stopped note. The same notational practices apply for artificial harmonics as for natural harmonics. Note that in the example shown the first will produce a note 2x8ves above the stopped note, the second an 8ve+5th above the stopped note. Often a small notehead in brackets is used to indicate the sounding result. Where the word flag (= "flageolet") is written over the note, a whispered bowing might help the 'whistling' sound, but this instruction can also mean, quite simply, 'harmonic'. It is possible to add vibrato and to play melodic lines in artificial harmonics, but both techniques should be used with care. Two rarer artificial harmonics are min 3rd above stop (gives 2x8ves+5th); maj 3rd above stop (gives 2x8ves+maj 3rd)
Vibrato on artificial harmonics:

The Orchestra: A User's Manual is a free resource and will remain so. It still receives between 8,000 and 16,000 unique visits per month from all over the world. See the testimonials. Thanks to all the donations, I have been able to create this responsive re-design. But the movies and sound clips recorded in 2004 do show their age. I would really like to re-record everything and add many more techniques, especially for solo and ensemble writing. I estimate this will cost around £30,000. If you know a source of such funds, please contact me: a.hugill [at]