Chris Tokalon is a musician, composer, performer, sound therapist and recording artist.  He has played sax and flute since 1979 in a wide variety of jazz  ensembles, musicals and cabarets, as well as being constantly involved in and performing local original music with bands and artists such as Peto, the Jazz Hounds, Steve Newman, Tony Cox, Drum Cafe and his own world music project, Soulbird. He is also known for his astonishing ability to mimic musical instruments, birds, animals and people in performance and has developed a natural ability for overtone singing and creating evocations of natural sounds as part of a Sound therapy process.

About seventeen years ago Christopher started specializing in Sound Journeys, a process where “passengers” lie down and receive a wonderfully calming, energizing sound bath.  The effect of this cellular massage is to shake loose stress and trauma and create a balance between body, mind and spirit.  Journeys can be done for groups or individuals and Chris has taken literally thousands of people on  transformational Sound Journeys.  

Christopher is also an expert in facilitating interactive and inspirational music and comedy for teambuilding in corporations, on holistic retreats, children's playshops and as a supplement to other workshops.  He has produced two CDs of specially composed music for relaxation and upliftment.  His work has received acclaim from therapists, health journals and basically everyone who has been on a magical sound experience with him.

"Here is an article written about him. Please read it because it really encapsulates what he's about as far as his different talents and career is concerned. Definitely shows off his good side!"



By Evan Milton - Inside Track

Marvelous Mouth tunes in

Multi-talented sound therapist Chris Tokalon shows the musical side of achieving balance and harmony of the soul.

Musician, instrument imitator and sound therapist, Christopher Tokalon has been dubbed the ‘Marvelous Mouth'. He can sound like a trumpet with just his lips, or a harmonica with just his hands and mouth and when not creating his one-man brand of one-man band comedy, he uses the power of sound to facilitate healing and transformation - and takes people swimming with dolphins.

If people were anthropomorphized animals, Christopher Tokalon would definitely be a bear; but think of a Disney's Jungle book styled wise Baloo that has equal parts of the mischief of King Louie, and recall that the jungle king's part was originally meant to be voiced by Louis Armstrong.

Tokalon is soft-spoken, although with a face and personality always poised ready to laugh and, quite clearly, he enjoys the laughter of every day life, often choosing to clown should the opportunity arise. This is the vein he taps when he does his one-man music comedy show ‘Don't Tune Me - I'll Tune You'.

‘It's an entertaining and wacky show of music and comedy combined" he says. " I do impersonations and musical imitations. It's made possible by modern technology, with this loop pedal that I've got, a Boss DD20. It enables me to multi-track myself live; I create my own backing band in front of the audience. Once I have created the foundation - like the base and the drums and a horn section as well with my voice, then I can sing over the back-tracks that I've just done".

What Tokalon sings, are zany songs, often using his other talent of being able to do uncanny vocal impersonations. The loveable dancing version of Nelson Mandela makes an appearance, for example, doing a half-rapped, half-sung piece called the Madiba shuffle that tackles issues of crime and morality in the new South Africa.

"I've always done the impersonations for fun, and I've done the instrument imitations for as long as I can remember. It's been a long cherished dream to combine them into a solo show that's presented in a musical comedy format".

He stresses "solo", noting his work with Tony Cox, Steve Newman, The Drum Cafe and the onetime Johannesburg based band, the Jazz Hounds. How, then, is his solo comedic combination received? "Very well, with open mouths" he smiles.

The "Marvelous Mouth" is also the "Sound Man", helping to pioneer the emerging field of sound therapy with his sound journeys and facilitated sound workshops. "It started about 10 years ago, through a personal need for transformation and a need to channel my creativity into something more spiritually fulfilling. I got tired of playing jazz in smoky dives for people who were there to drink or chat each other up".

A life crisis precipitated Tokalon's own exploration of sound as a means of healing and transformation, aided by two gifts; a book by Olivia Dewhurst-Maddock called "Healing with Sound" and a music journey tape by Jonathan Goldmann, called "Toning".

"I started practicing this stuff on myself and I found that it worked for me. That lead to teaching other people about toning. Then I learned over-tone singing and subsequently started taking people on sound journeys using voice, the flute, Tibetan singing bowls, didgeridoo and the evocation of natural sounds. It literally transports people into an altered state while they are lying with their eyes closed."

He explains overtone singing as the ability to produce two or more sounds simultaneously which are in harmony with the fundamental or starting note. "Essentially what you are doing, is going through a variety of vowel sounds, starting with a vowel that will open your throat and place the sound down in the depths of your body, and then finishing with a vowel that closes your throat and forces the vowel sounds into your head."

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"While you are doing that, you are singing the fundamental note and changing the shape of your throat, allowing the resonance to move up into your head and into your sinus cavities."

What is produced is a voice - and body - in harmony with itself, a rich and complex sound that is both compelling and empowering. Imagine a handful of Buddhist monks all holding a sacred "Aum" sound, resonating in harmony with one another - but imagine that coming from just one person.

The sound journeys utilize simple and powerful sounds to transport and mesmerize and to utilize the readily available energy of sound to restore balance and create transformation".

They are done for stress and trauma relief, for personal upliftment and transformation - and for fun. Tokalon also observes that they are gentle and non-denominational, since the language of sound is not a threat to any religious belief systems.

There is a corporate angle to his work too and it sees the "Marvelous Mouth" and the "Sound Man" intersecting to present sound and music driven workshops. "I facilitate interactive musical team building" he says. "We get people to make music together as a metaphor for learning how to work with one another. It's simple and it's fun".

The emphasis is on being playful and spontaneous - he prefers to call them "playshops" rather than "workshops" - and they are guided by his inimitable comic intervention when needed: becoming the shuffling Madiba, contributing a mouth trumpet piece or injecting a funny impersonation or imitation. "As colleagues are made to do silly things", Tokalon writes in his resume, "laughter erupts and a wonderful sense of fun and unity is the end result".

In fact, it is this same sense of fun he uses to start the transformational sound journeys. "I suddenly make a mouth trumpet noise. Everybody laughs and I show them how sound can affect you in different ways; that sound has just transformed them. The rapport is always good from there".

Tokalon discovered his skill at impersonations and imitations as a child. "I went to see this movie ‘Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines', and there was a German Officer strutting up and down imitating a trombone. I tried it and I could do it. Then at a very young age, I imitated a rooster in my Dad's chicken run".

He starts laughing "It had a seizure! A kind of convulsion - it literally fell down for a while and then got up. I think it had never heard another rooster before - it never had any competition until I did this perfect imitation".

The sound journeys use a basic format of sounds that are structured to facilitate a journey. Within the woven sequences of instrumentation, Tokalon is free to improvise. "It's for people who need to relax and de-stress but also for people who are looking to learn how to create balance in their lives by remembering how to use their voices. We learn about energy management and sound combined with breath is a readily available form of energy to be utilized".

Tokalon also plays with ensembles called Soulbird Spiritsounds, doing a world music blend as well as Gypsy Magic; a band that plays Middle Eastern and Balkan music. Here, Tokalon plays saxophone, flute and the hang; a percussive instrument that is a kind of inverted steel-pan drum. 

He plays first tenor sax in Jannie "Hanepoot" van Tonder's Biggish Band. "It's an old connection" he says. "Jannie and me go back to the bad old days of the 80's where we were struggling artists, cut off in many ways from making a living and crossing cultural and race borders with difficulty - and with impunity. But the real reason I'm in the Biggish Band is because we're playing really hip, original South African compositions".

He also does an exiting venture where sound and meditation meets the experience of swimming with dolphins. "I facilitate on holistic getaways in Southern Mozambique, doing an intensive and extensive 3-day sound workshop, showing people how to use sound combined with intention, as a tool for transformation". We go on 3 dolphin launches during this time and people have an opportunity (about 80% of the time) to swim with wild dolphins.  This is done in conjunction with Halo Gaia Holistic Getaways. 

Returning to "Don't Tune Me", he says the show draws on two of his favourite sayings; "If music be the food of love, play on" and "Laughter is the best medicine".

But how does he combine the more serious project of therapy and transformation with a comic show? How do they fit together? "Sometimes spirituality can get really serious and boring. It's good to bring comic relief".

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