A bunch of us were hiking in Sedona the Monday after TCA last September. It was a gentle yet powerful walk along Oak Creek. Just after the trailhead, there is a small cave, and we stopped in before returning to our cars. The resonance inside is exquisite, so we started toning. And toning naturally led to OVERtoning.

Some of us had done it before, and some were new. So I did an impromptu crash course. This video records our initial explorations as the whole group tries to get the hang of it. Those moments where it came together were really exhilarating. The sound takes over and you become part of the vibration.


Overtoning is one voice creating two or more tones at the same time. You start with one note and hold it, like a drone, then emphasize one or more vocal harmonics. The timbre of your voice comes from the harmonics anyway, so all you are doing is punching up what is already there. Your starting note is the fundamental, and the harmonics have a consistent mathematical relationship to it. Since a tone is a vibration, and that can be expressed as a frequency (how fast it vibrates), overtones are multiples of that frequency.

For instance, a symphony orchestra tunes to “concert A”, or 440 cycles per second. The oboist traditionally sounds it and everyone tunes to it. If it’s off a little, well, people start to throw things. If we take 100 cps as our fundamental, then the first overtone is one octave higher, or 200. Exactly double the frequency of the fundamental. The second overtone is 300, and the third is 400. And so on.

You generate the tones by using head resonators. The fundamental comes from a “mmmm” sound. The first overtone from a long “O”. The second is “ooooo”. The third comes from “ahhhhh”. The fourth is a long “A”. The fifth overtone is long “I”. The sixth is long “E”. And the higher overtones are variations on the “E” sound.

I sometimes use harmonic chant in healing sessions, particularly when the client is relaxed and has shifted into trans-rational states of consciousness. The tones interact with the energy field in ways that the thinking mind can’t process. You can, however, feel its effects.

At TCA in Sedona, sometime 20 of us will be in the jacuzzi at midnight overtoning to the Milky Way above.