The Overtone Crown by Shawn Feeney

The Overtone Crown is a wearable instrument. It is made from a modified bicycle helmet and holds eight tuning forks. The listener wears the Crown as the player resonates the forks with a bow. This creates a stereophonic field of shimmering overtones around the listener’s head.

The Overtone Crown uses an octave’s worth of Biosonics tuning forks (C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C) in Pythagorean tuning. When bowed, the third harmonic of each fork resonates most strongly, so it sounds as a G major scale. The forks can easily be switched out for different scales and tunings.


To create the Overtone Crown, I filled the top seven air holes of the helmet with silicone in order to flexibly hold the tuning forks in place. The silicone was covered in shaped polymer clay and epoxy, which was then sanded down. I also drilled an additional hole in the front of the helmet to hold an eighth fork, an octave higher than the central top fork.

I brushed on base layers of silver acrylic paint and transparent acrylic medium. Then thin coats of chrome spray paint were applied.


The Overtone Crown is a companion piece to my drawing, The Auracle. This drawing is a visualization of the resonances from the Crown and how they may connect with the listener’s body. Opportunities to experience the Overtone Crown and the Auracle will be available during my residency at the de Young.

This post originally appeared on Periscope Project, the online component of my de Young residency.