Stones as Instruments

We look at rocks and stones all the time, whether they cover our driveways or sprinkle our beaches, but what has always interested me is the use of stones in applications that, although would be possible without the stone by using a different material, would be different to some degree where the use of stone is vital. One place this cool albeit very specific set of circumstances arises if with music and the use of stone instruments. Although the stone instruments could be substituted by ceramics or metal or wood depending on the instrument, stone inherently has a different tone than every other material, which is important to consider when ancient instruments and folk songs were created using stone instruments. So although the use of stone instruments in today’s music is not even thought about due to the expenses, fragility, and complete tonal shift to a sound that not many people are accustomed to, stone instruments still thrive as ways to tell a story in many cultures spanning from Mexico to East Asia. The most famous stone instrument might be one that you’ve heard of due to its niche use in the present day, the lithophone, which can most basically be explained as a sort of stone xylophone. While researching for this, I came across a TED talk about the use of nature in music which included stones among many other things. I will timestamp the section that uses pure stones in the music (https://youtu.be/E0dkO3lRlLc?t=349) but I would also advice listening to the whole piece, it’s quite unique (if you’re not interested in listening to the whole piece, I would at least recommend the movement that starts around 15:10). In looking for videos about stone instruments, I found a performance that was done in Japan that was posted in 2012 that I thought sounded really cool, so I’ll link that as well (https://youtu.be/DjqMB8sqvt8?t=47).LithophoneRock GongStone Pad, uses stones to make electronic connection, very recentBone Flute

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1 Response to Stones as Instruments

  1. wcturgeon says:

    This is fascinating, Colin, and pushes us to ask what makes music, well- music.

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