Artificial Harmonics: Explore the Right Hand

There is an old guitar technique which uses the Adduction (towards the body centreline) movement to a practical musical effect, and that is the playing of artificial harmonics on one string.

  1. Place the index finger and the annular (ring finger) on the string.
  2. Position the index finger exactly half way between the note to be played and the bridge.
  3. Adduct the annular finger along the string (away from the index finger)
  4. Stroke the string with the annular finger.

I had often observed that my right hand worked much better after playing a few minutes of artificial harmonics but it took years to put that together with the exercises in adduction that I had been shown on the keyboard. Now I understand that the adduction process makes me aware of the interossial muscles, thereby giving me the opportunity to consciously relax them.

Relaxation is a conscious process.

Anyway, this makes a good argument for including some scales and arpeggios played in artificial harmonics in your daily routine, at least until you are aware of those inter-ossial muscles and whether they are interfering with your freedom of finger movement.


Playing an Artificial Harmonic on the 3rd string


The view from the audience. You can clearly see the adduction of the index finger.

I use a lot of artificial harmonics in this live performance of "Body and Soul", recorded at Zebra Rock Gallery in the Kimberley region of Australia: