A Story Of Resonance : The Day I Learned About The Overtone Series

Janet Kidd, the director of my men’s Barbershop chorus (The Men of Fundy), raised the topic of the overtone series at last night’s rehearsal. It is one of my very favourite topics in music theory, and in fact is the basis in math and physics for understanding everything about why harmony sounds and feels the way it does.


I still remember the very first time I learned about this concept in music — it’s hard to forget anything which comes with the same feeling as being struck by lightning! It’s also the same feeling I had when attending my very first class on the principles and philosophy of Heilkunst Medicine, and as it turns out, it was for the same reason.
The overtone series describes how the production of a sound (by an instrument or a voice, or such) generates not only a pure tone (which in physics would be called a sine wave, and which can normally only be produced artificially by a synthesizer) but in fact a whole “package” of harmonically related tones are produced together. Without getting deeply into the math or physics details of this, overtones are the reason that there is a qualitative difference between the sound of a trumpet playing b-flat, and a clarinet repeating that same b-flat. Likewise, it is the reason that our speaking or untrained singing voice has a distinctly identifiable tonal quality or ‘timbre’, and how we can tell our friends apart when they call us on the phone.
Music is a great topic within which to explore the Heilkunst concept of ‘resonance’, including the appreciation of a resonant and healthy quality of a speaking or singing voice, or the expression of resonance (the artful mix of consonance and dissonance) through the use of harmony in a piece of music. Or at another level, we can look at which types of music a person resonates with over others, as an indication of their state of mind and bioenergetic structure.
My unforgettable first encounter with the concept of the overtone series had such an powerful impact on me due to my own resonance blueprint — a mixture of my love for music, along with my desire to understand the world in terms of its underlying laws and structures is what made this concept so resonant, and therefore exciting for me to learn. Likewise, at another level, my first exposure to learning the principles of Heilkunst had the same impact, due to my resonance blueprint. I had explored many concepts and systems of health up to that point, but nothing had awoken in me anything with such a force until then.
Aside from finding an excuse to talk about some of my favourite topics, I present these stories as another reference point and model to what you are looking for when seeking resonance. I tell patients that they need to work at developing their “inner geiger counter” to be much more finely tuned and responsive to what, in the world around them, creates this type of resonance response, and therefore which path is lit up for them to follow. Think back to any experience, even small, which created this true form of excitation within, and then work from there to find more and more which links back to that same resonance for you.

16 thoughts on “A Story Of Resonance : The Day I Learned About The Overtone Series

  1. Michael Leger

    I had a very similar reaction in my first exposure to the harmonic series and it still endlessly fascinates.

    Likely controversial – but I think that the harmonic series is an analog to potentization – ie the original substance could be considered the whole ‘voice’ and each potency a focus on a particular harmonic of that voice. A 6x for example would still have most of the voice in it, but maybe a bit more emphasis on the fundamental. A 10M on the other hand would have very little of the original voice but would have a lot of some particular high harmonic of that voice.

    Grist for the mill…

  2. jkorentayer Post author

    That’s an interesting thought ….. I suppose that a Korasakovian potency would be more like the harmonic series, in terms of traces of the lower potencies still being present in the higher ones.

    We still have yet to complete our scientific understanding of all the different potency scales, and how to correctly apply them for different jurisdictions and aspects of treatment.

  3. Susan

    Have you seen the movie Genghis Blues? I think you would enjoy it as it is about throat singing which is all about overtones.

  4. Michael

    It doesn’t_seem_to matter which methodology is used to potentize for this particular analogy. I favor a particular type of radionic method combined with an aspect of anthroposophical potentizing that I call homeodynamic. The analogy still seems to hold. It really seems to sing out (intended) when a potency chord is created.

  5. Michael

    Hi Jeff;
    You can find an introductory article here:
    http://homeodynamics.com/Homeodynamics
    I’d love to hear your comments. This article is version 1. I’m currently doing a bunch of reading on the Ether, which I believe forms the basis for homeodynamics as well as homeopathy, but that is conjecture at this point. The ether research will eventually makes it way into a version 2.

  6. Michael Leger

    I apologize if I’m bombing this thread, but here’s something else you might find intriguing (and something I’d_love_to experience in person):
    http://www.harmonixhealing.com/
    Dr. James Hopkins creates incredible acoustic instruments that are designed to ring out the overtone series. Besides just playing them, he also uses them in a therapeutic setting, where the person receiving the treatment is literally laying on the instrument as it’s being played…”Ecstatic bathing”!

  7. jkorentayer Post author

    HI Michael – thanks for pointing out your article to me — I’ll have a look, and let you know my comments as soon as I can.

  8. jkorentayer Post author

    Yes, we’ve been trialing the use of Dr. Rozencwajg’s Fibonacci concept in the clinic for the past couple of years, in order to get a sense of how this series best fits in, within the context of the potency scales we already know, such as the C-scale, and the LM-scale. We haven’t come to any conclusions yet in terms of principles or even clinical rules of thumb, but we’re gradually getting a feeling for this scale.

  9. jkorentayer Post author

    Not at all — every comment you add has substance, and is a worthy use of this space.

    I’ll take a look at this link, as well, as I’m not currently familiar with Dr. James Hopkins’ work.

  10. Michael Leger

    13: Are you able to say yet whether one of the bolder assertions of the Fibo. series seems to hold true – that successive potencies have a multiplicative effect ie 5c x 8c x 13c = 520c?

  11. jkorentayer Post author

    HI Michael. I’ve not yet come to a conclusion about the concept of a multiplier effect with the Fibonacci series. The whole area of dose and potency, remedy preparation methods, and such is one which still needs much exploration and fresh thinking. I’ve been chipping away at this area from a few angles, but I’m not yet at a point where I’m able to comment coherently on how some of these pieces and concepts fit together.
    It is a fascinating area, to be sure! I’ve started to read your material about homeodynamics, and it is adding some new perspectives to my thought process here.

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