# Difference between overtones and overtones

## Key difference - overtones vs. overtones

Sound can be explained as a longitudinal , mechanical wave . Sound always requires a medium to move, and the molecules in the medium must vibrate back and forth to carry the sound. When these vibrations are transmitted to our ears, the eardrum also vibrates. The brain can recognize these vibrations and interpret them as " sound ". For each object there are a number of frequencies that, if the object were to vibrate at those frequencies, would cause the object to vibrate at a maximum amplitude . These frequencies are called resonance frequencies . Harmonics and undertones are terms used to describe resonance frequencies of a musical instrument. The lowest frequency at which resonance occurs is called the fundamental frequency . The main difference between overtones and overtones is that overtones refer to any resonant frequency of a system that has a frequency higher than its fundamental frequency, while the term harmonics refers to resonant frequencies that are integral multiples of the fundamental frequency . Vibrating guitar strings create standing waves that resonate at harmonic frequencies.

## What are harmonics?

Each musical note corresponds to a sound wave with a certain frequency . For example, the musical note "middle C" has a frequency of 261.6 Hz. However, if you hear a musical note on an instrument, you will not hear a sound of just that frequency (if you hear only one frequency, you would only hear a beep) . Instead, you hear that frequency plus other frequencies that are multiples of that frequency. That means, in addition to the "pure" 261.6 Hz, you will also hear frequencies of 523.2 Hz (= 2 × 261.2 Hz), 784.4 Hz (= 3 × 261.2 Hz) ... and so on. The higher multiples of the frequency become progressively quieter. In different musical instruments, the higher multiples of a frequency have different relative amplitudes. This means that every instrument sounds different.

Harmonics are frequencies that are integral multiples of the fundamental frequency. Is the fundamental frequency $f_0$ , then harmonics have frequencies $f_0,2f_0,3f_0,\dots$ and so forth.

## What are overtones?

Overtones refer to each of the resonance frequencies above the fundamental frequency. In many instruments the overtones correspond to their overtones. In some situations, however, there are additional harmonics that are not overtones (ie the instrument would resonate at frequencies that are not integer multiples of the fundamental frequency). There are also situations where harmonic frequencies are not necessarily overtones (some integer multiples of the fundamental frequency do not cause resonance). An example of the latter case is a tube with an open end. The tube would show at resonance $f_0,3f_0,5f_0,\dots$ and so forth.

On a guitar string, the overtones correspond to the overtones. The fundamental frequency $f_0$ itself is not counted as an overtone while it is counted as an overtone. With a guitar string, resonance occurs at $f_0$ (the fundamental frequency = first harmonic), then at $2f_0$ (second harmonic, first overtone) and then at $3f_0$ (third harmonic, second overtone), ... etc.

## Difference between overtones and overtones

### definition

Overtones refer to any resonance frequency in a system that has a frequency higher than its fundamental frequency.

Harmonics refer to resonance frequencies that are integer multiples of the fundamental frequency.

### Inclusion of the basic frequency

Overtones always have frequencies that are higher than the frequency of the fundamental frequency. They do not contain the fundamental frequency. For example, the “first overtone” always has a higher frequency than the basic frequency.

Harmonics comprise the fundamental frequency. For example, the “first harmonic” is always the fundamental frequency itself; the "second harmonic" is twice the fundamental frequency, ... and so on.

Image used with permission

"Strum Line" by Jackson Romie (own work) [ CC BY-ND 2.0 ], via Flickr 