# How do standing waves produce a note?

I just learned standing waves in class. And I know that fundamental frequency is the minimum frequency with which a standing can exist on a string. Then we talked about the role of standing wave in music.

I don't very understand how do standing waves produce a note, since there is no net energy transfer through the wave. Also, what are the roles of different harmonics in the music? Can anyone help me out?

The principle of superposition tells us that if two waves $$\psi_1$$ and $$\psi_2$$ are allowed on the string (satisfies boundary conditions), any linear combination of them $$c_1\psi_1+c_2\psi_2$$ will also be allowed on the string. So, in real life, the standing wave on a string can be decomposed as a harmonic series, i.e. it is a linear combination of the pure harmonics. Typically, the fundamental frequency determines the pitch, and the smaller contributions at higher harmonics determine the timbre (tone quality).