Thus far, we have discussed various aspects of sound, including concepts such as “frequency”, “intent”, “vibrational resonance”, “visualization”, “vocalization” and other aspects of using sound to shift frequency. Last issue, we mentioned the idea of a “harmonic language.” It is time now to begin to deal with the subject of harmonics, or overtones, as they are also known.
You have heard the term “harmonics” used in many different areas–from the Harmonic Convergence to many sacred science writings. I particularly like the reference to shifting the harmonic resonance of the Enterprises’s shield on “Star Trek: Next Generation.” Yet how many of you really known what “harmonics” are?
Very simply put, harmonics are geometric multiples created by the singular vibrations of an object. For example, if you set a string into motion–let us say that it resonates at a frequency of 440 hertz, that is, it vibrates up and down 440 times a second–this is known as it’s fundamental frequency.
Now, this fundamental frequency is what people pay most of their attention to. If you were to hit this note of 440 hertz on a piano (or any instrument for the matter), you could call this note an “A,” and you would put most of your awareness on hearing this “A” note as it vibrated.
But in reality, this string that produces a fundamental vibration of 440 hertz, is also producing many other tones, or overtones. These harmonics are actually the result of other vibrations within the string created by that fundamental note–vibration that are quantum in nature and are geometric multiples of the fundamental note.
That “A” note of 440 hertz produces the first overtone by vibrating at a frequency that is twice as fast as the fundamental–at 880 hertz. And this is what you call an octave. The second overtones vibrates 3 times as fast as the fundamental, at 1,320 hertz. And the next overtones vibrates 4 times as fast. The next overtone vibrates 5 times as fast and so on. Until–at least conceptually–infinity. So you see that while what you may be perceiving as merely that “A” note vibrating at 440 hertz is actually a complex composite of that fundamental note and overtones, all vibrating together.
In reality, almost every sound that you hear (unless it is created by some electronic laboratory instrument) produces these complex tones–these harmonics. They are, infact, responsible for creating the different sounds that we hear. Harmonics contribute to what is called the “timbre” or tone color of an instrument. When, in an electronics laboratory, the harmonics were removed from recordings of three different instruments, listeners could not tell them apart, yet in real life, it is easy to distinguish between a violin, a trumpet and a flute. This is also true about the human voice–every voice is different, because every voice has a different harmonics pattern. While harmonics always sound as geometric multiples of a fundamental tone, different harmonics will be more amplified in different instruments and in different people.
On a metaphoric level (still working within the guidelines of the physics of sound), when one talks about a harmonic of something, that person is talking about a higher frequency that is a geometric multiple. A geometric multiple is simply a whole number (as opposed to a fraction), which therefore means that harmonics are quantum. So, a harmonic of say 100 cycles per second (or hertz) can simply be that 100 hertz multiplied by any number (from 1 to infinity). It could be 200 or 500 or 5,000.