Musical Stones – by Harry Binns
Situated in the heart of the Lake District, this lithophone sits in the Keswick Museum. It was built in 1840 after 13 years of construction. It is the second of 2 built. The first built in 1785 consisted of only 2 octaves, this lithophone has a 5 octave range and is tuned more accurately. The stones are slate taken from the nearby mountain Skiddaw, which stands as the 6th highest peak in England. It’s also where I grew up.
The instrument itself which is in the Keswick Museum, toured around the UK and Europe during the 19th century. At one point it was played in a private performance for Queen Victoria in London.
The sampling of this instrument is fairly basic due to my limited setup. It was recorded using only a single Rode NT1-a (I made it stereo within the exs24). I only had a short period of time to record the samples just after the museum had closed. There were still a few people about and cleaners using hovers. This means there are quite a few artefacts. However, I find it sounds best with a large long reverb.
I hope you have as much fun playing with this as I have and I hope to re sample it someday to a higher quality.
Leave a review to let others know what you thought of the instrument!
Stones the Crows!
It’s an Aussie expression which boasts amazement, and amazing it is!
Thanks for going to the trouble of sourcing (and sampling) this wonderful instrument, insuring its deserved legacy.
Before today, I didn’t even know it was possible to play music on stones, or that instruments for doing so existed. After hearing this sampled lithopone and doing some reading and YouTube video watching, I’m just sorry I didn’t know sooner. This instrument offers some great sounds, very pleasant (especially playing chords!) earthy-sounding, intriguing without being overpowering. I converted to soundfont if you would like a copy to share. Thanks so much for this!