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Tony di Napoli was born in France but now lives in Belgium combining his skills as a sculptor with his musical interests, producing a range of stone instruments which he has incorporated in different work, some in collaborative theatre productions.  In 2002 Napoli spent time in Vietnam,  studying the historical use of lithophones in that country, and working with a Vietnamese percussion group plus Hanoi composer Vu Nhat Tan.  Toni di Napoli is pictured below playing some of his instruments. Audio Visual Gallery


Composer Dirk Brossé (1960-) used stone percussion in his work "Birth of music"


Composer, musician and artist Jesse Stewart created a lithophone comprising 100 slabs of marble in 1999.  His instrument moved away from the western scale by including first quarter then eighth tones. He also uses the marble slabs in different configurations, such as that seen in the picture below, for use in particular compositions and improvisations.


Two newly built lithophones were unveiled in Coniston, Cumbria in August 2010 at Brantwood the former home of writer and critic John Ruskin. The largest, a four-octave chromatic instrument was designed and built by Marcus De Mowbray using different types of rock from the Lake District region. The other, developed and designed by Dr Kia C.Ng from the University of Leeds, is an innovative interactive instrument with sensors linking it to computer software which expands the aural possibilities and which can also trigger visual imagery on a display screen.


Above: Brantwood Musical Stones, Coniston UK


Above: iRock, Coniston UK with its designer Dr Kia Ng and Professor Bruce Yardley, both from the University of Leeds


Percussionist and composer Gilles Dalbis uses instruments from around the world as well as building his own, using a range of materials.  He has built a number of lithophones which he uses in performance. 

Musician and instrument builder Will Menter is an Englishman but has long been resident in France. His performances and recordings are intrinsically linked to the environments in which they take place, sometimes making use of the resonance of underground caverns. His use of the sound of slate has led him to build a series of so-called slate marimbas.


Sculptor Elmar Daucher (1932-1989] produced a number of sculptures from granite, marble and basalt which produced sound by being struck or stroked by hand.  Some of these can be heard on the ECM album by Stephan Micus The music of stones in a recording made in Ulm Cathedral, with the stones being played by Daucher himself and two others.

Klangsteine is a trio featuring Klaus Feßmann (pictured), Friedemann Dähn and  Manfred Kniel They have developed different ways of playing stones, including instruments they have designed and built themselves, rubbing the stones as well as striking them.

Einstürzende Neubaten were a very successful 'noise' band using industrial tools as well as more conventional instruments in their music.  Their drummer F M Einheit left to pursue a solo career producing music for theatre and developing his own ideas which included the use of stone.  In 1992 he brought out the album Stein.after which he formed a band with the same name, releasing the album Steinzeit.

Composer Gerhard Stäbler incorporated a lithophone, played by Rainer Romer, in his Ungaretti


Composer and activist Elias Davidsson has composed for his self-built lithophone.  The Icelandic band Sigur Rós have also used lithophones and there is a suggestion that their modern use follows an ancient tradition of lithophones to be found in the country. These Icelandic instruments are made from basaltic, isotropic stones which, as a result of climatic changes, have split into thin slices or slabs.


Paul Fuchs (1936-) is a German sculptor, living in Italy, who also describes himself as Klangkünstler  or sound artist.  In 1966 he began work on his Giardino dei suoni  or Garden of Sound near the Massa Marittima in Tuscany.  Working with a range of materials Fuchs has often used pieces of stone, placing them in environmental settings and playing them with his longstanding group Anima. The picture below shows one of his lithophones  being played in the Giardino by percussionist Zoro Babel.

Pinuccio Sciola (1942-)  is one of Italy’s leading sculptors with an international reputation.  Research into the properties of stone led him to explore its aural qualities.   In some of these sound sculptures he has made parallel grooves in the rock, enabling them to be played with the hand, making them sing in a beautiful and haunting way.


Experimental composer and musician Philip Dadson worked with Cornelius Cardew and Michael Parsons in the Scratch Orchestra, later forming a group in New Zealand working along similar lines, From Scratch.  A long-standing interest in stones and the musical possibilities they offer led him to incorporate their sound in much of his work.


Sound artist and sculptor Danny Becher was born in Germany, has worked in Sweden, but seems to be currently residing in the Netherlands.  As part of his work as a teacher and performer exploring the meditative power of music and sound he uses granite and crystallized marble.


Percussionist Terje Isungset has a preference for natural materials in the instruments he plays, from birchwood shakers to carefully-fashioned blocks of ice.  He also uses blocks of Norwegian granite.


At the Alameda dos Oceanos, near the Macau Pavilion is the Jardim da musica, a musical playground which includes a lithophone.


Percussionist Fritz Hauser has written several pieces for sounding stones and has incorporated stone in several projects.

Rudolf Fritsche builds high quality concert lithophones, known as Gramorimba, which are intended as an alternative to other tuned percussion instruments such as xylophone, marimba or vibraphone.  Marketed under the name Steinklang, these are four-octave chromatic instruments, finely tuned and adjustable to suit the individual player.  Fritsche is also interested in the therapeutic properties of music and builds other stone instruments such as the Gramogong and GramoEi which lend themselves to the production of serene, meditative music. 


In 2006 London Sinfonietta commissioned composer Nigel Osborne to write piece for musicians from the orchestra, plus five Ugandan musicians along with the sound of granite rock gongs on Lolui Island on Lake Victoria, Uganda (pictured).  Since then Osborne has taken his interest in ringing rocks further with a piece entitle Tiree, inspired by the ringing stone on the island of that name in the Inner Hebrides.


Composer Cornelius Cardew  (1935-1981) incorporated the playing of small stones in his major piece The Great Learning.

Rob Mackay studied music and geology and has combined these two interests in compositions which transform the sound of stone electronically.  His piece Song of stones is based on the changes in the sonorous quality of rock originating in different parts of northern England, from west to east.

In 2010 a new lithophone, designed by Marcus  De Mowbray and developed as part of a project based at University of Leeds is due to be installed at Brantwood, John Ruskin’s former home near Coniston in Cumbria. Rob Mackay has been commissioned to compose a piece for the instrument.


Heather Barringer is a percussionist with contemporary music ensemble Zeitgeist, based in St Paul, Minnesota.  Alongside the usual array of percussion instruments employed in performance she has used sonorous stones “gathered from the shores of Lake Superior”.  The Schubert Club in St Paul possesses a replica of an ancient Vietnamese lithophone.

Composer John Francois Charles has built a lithophone made of agate.

Jim Doble from Maine builds what he calls stonaphones from recycled slate roofing, selling them via his website under the brand name Elemental Design.  They vary in size, the largest, three-octave chromatic version over two metres long (pictured below). Jim also uses other materials for his stonaphones including black granite and soapstone.

Tom Kaufmann describes himself as an "instrument builder and edutainer".  A performing musician himself, he runs Tinkertunes in Traverse City Michigan, offering a range of music related services, from furniture produced from recycled pianos to a music information service and a selection of original instruments.  These include a number of lithophones such as the one below made from granite and in use in the Children's Garden of a public library.

Scott C. Miller from St Louis, Missouri, runs a small business called the Bone Dry Musical Instrument Company, making musical bones used particularly in tradional music.  As well as using bone, wood and plastic, he also uses a variety of different types of slate, which produce a distinctive sound and are, according to Scott Miller, surprisingly durable.

Sculptor Jonathan Shor designed a musical fence (pictured below)made from granite for Quark Park, “a provocative collaboration of science, art and architecture” temporarily part of the landscape in Princeton, New Jersey.