The flute and the guitar are often said to be excellent companions, probably because they are not similar in tone quality, but they are complementary. It is the balance of harmonics that determines the tone. It is also called overtones. The music, accompanied by guitar and played with flute melody, creates an acoustic sound so rich in tone that it is hard to believe that there are only two instruments. Let’s take a look at why.
Waveform of Flute and Guitar
First, let’s compare the waveform of a flute sound to that of a guitar sound. For reference, let’s also compare it with the waveform of a sine wave.
All of the waveforms are for C5, which is a C note in the middle register.
The top one is a sine wave form. It has an exact simple wave shape.
In the middle is the waveform of the flute sound. The shape changes slightly due to the overlap of other harmonics waves, but I think it is close to a sine wave. I think it is probably the closest to a sine wave among musical instruments. (Ocarina and recorder are also close.)
At the bottom is the waveform of the guitar sound. It’s a complicated waveform. This is what happens when various harmonics waves are mixed together. The waveform is quite far from a sine wave. But when you listen to it, you can tell that it is the same pitch. The human ear is amazing.
I mentioned at the beginning that tone is determined by the balance of harmonics. Let me explain this in terms of frequency spectrum.
First, the spectrum of a sine wave, which is a wave of a single frequency, so in the above example, only C5 (523 Hz) has the intensity of the spectrum.
The frequency spectrum of a flute is similar to the spectrum of a sine wave, but it contains some harmonics. But basically, the spectrum of C5, the reference frequency, can be made stronger.
In contrast, the frequency spectrum of the guitar has an overall spread in the intensity of the various harmonics, and the spectrum seems to be rolling and spreading out horizontally.
I believe that the combination of this vertically sharp flute and the horizontally gentle guitar creates an ensemble that is both expansive and sharp.
The horizontal axis is the frequency. Only the pitch of the harmonic overtone is written. In this example, for the reference note of C5, we have the following harmonics.
- 2nd Harmonics（C6) C
- 3rd Harmonics（G6) G
- 4th Harmonics（C7）C
- 5th Harmonics（E7）E
There are of course more than 6th harmonics, but I’ve simplified it. Basically, harmonics of frequencies are integer multiples of the reference frequency.
I was actually going to post a Fourier transform diagram, but since there are components other than orthogonal frequencies, it was difficult to understand (especially for guitars), so I made an image diagram.
The lowest note of the flute is C4 (about 261 Hz), which is the note of C on the third fret of the fifth string on the guitar. Therefore, when the flute is playing a low note, the frequency will be overlapped by the chord playing in the low position. Therefore, when the flute is playing low notes, I try to play the guitar gently and conservatively with arpeggios.
Flute and Guitar Ensemble
The lowest note of the flute is C4 (about 261 Hz), which is the note C on the third fret of the fifth string on the guitar. Therefore, when the flute is playing on a low note, the frequency is covered even when playing chords in the low position. Therefore, I try to play the guitar gently and modestly with arpeggios, etc. where the flute is playing in a low position.
There are various sheet music for flute and guitar ensembles, but they are all classical pieces. Among them, I was curious about this one,
It is ensemble sheet music for flute and guitar, but there are quite a few Jazz Standard tunes such as Fly me to the moon, Ipanema, etc. If you like Jazz and Bossa Nova, this series is very good.
I hope you can feel the possibilities of the flute and guitar.