Teoría Incertidumbre #12
The litophone and The Kybalion Vibration Principle

-Litophone demo by Mårten Bondestam.
-The Richardson Musical Stones – Lithophone Looped#1 improvisation.
-L’Ocelle Mare live presentation in El Pumarejo from Vallcarca 30-11-2016


The lithophone is a rudimentary instrument built from stones, as the same word says (lito= stone, fono= sound), it is considered an instrument before the bell.

It is considered an instrument that has gone through different eras and cultures, according to some experts, its use has been as extreme as from children’s games to secret rituals.

In the ancient Chinese culture of the Shang dynasty the first instruments made of stones are already described. In Europe, there is no record of a similar instrument until the early twentieth century, when Don Antonio Roca and Várez idea and build a first modern lithophone.

Some examples by countries:

Chokwe people use stone bells called sango

In Santa Rosa de Tastil, in Argentina, there is a special quartz from which lithophones have been made locally. “Tastil” apparently means “rock that sounds.” An example of the lithophones can be found in the local museum.

At the beginning of the 19th century, Franz Weber built an alabaster instrument that he called Lithokymbalon.

The Gobustan caves (Kobustan / Qobustan) contain ancient cave drawings that include dance performances. There is also a rock that emits a deep resonant sound when struck, known as gaval-dashy (apparently meaning “tambourine stone”) and it is popularly believed that the dance took place with the accompaniment of the sound of the stone.

The people of northern Potosí in Bolivia apparently used resonant stones whose sound was apparently sustained by them as manifestations of the presence of the demon, Supay, trapped inside them.

The people of Sea Dayak in Borneo have used stone bells referred to as kromo.

Small stones are used in the rattle known as Yondo, which comprises a pipe, usually made of metal.

There are many examples of stone bell bars suspended in China. The original examples found in the archaeological finds are made of marble, although the later ones tend to be made mainly of jade. They were generally used for ceremonial purposes. Some of these date back thousands of years. The bian ch’ing or bian’qing is usually made up of a set of sixteen or thirty-two L-shaped tuned slabs, which are suspended in a large frame and hit on their long side with wooden mallets or padded sticks. Image below courtesy of Dr. Kia C.Ng, University of Leeds.

The Murui Muinane people of the La Chorrera region have long traded with locally extracted granite. They appropriated a large slab to use as a gong that they traditionally used to communicate over distances and rituals.

Apparently, the National Museum has a lithophone, although the details are hard to find.

In the eighteenth century, it was found that the rocks found on the riverbed in Skiddaw, in the Lake District, possessed a particularly sonic quality. Peter Crosthwaite, who had opened his own museum in Keswick, assembled a set of musical stones in 1785, some of which were already in perfect tune, the rest was tuned to cut the stone. Now you can see them in the Keswick Museum & Art Gallery, where the image was taken below.
In the following years, several people began making musical instruments using the stone, known as hornfels or stained pimples, meticulously tuning them by cutting them into slabs of different lengths and placing them horizontally. The best known, and the largest, was built by Joseph Richardson, he called the Rock Harmonicon, and subsequently made a career in it touring Britain and abroad giving recitals. The instrument can now be seen and played in the Keswick Museum.
Also widely known, emanating from the same area but finding success when moving to the United States, was the Till Family Rock Band, formed by Daniel Till and his two sons, James and William. Part of its instrument can be seen in the Metropolitan Museum. NY. Other examples of Skiddaw lithophones can be found, including one commissioned by John Ruskin, which is now in the Ruskin Museum in Coniston. A new telephone is currently being built that will be housed in Ruskin’s old house, Brantwood, on the edge of Lake Coniston.
In the nineteenth-century Yorkshire, a man named Neddy Dick, from Keld, at the top of Swaledale, was known for his extraordinary collection of musical instruments that included a collection of rocks that he played with various implements. Many of these were obtained by scrubbing the bed of the Swale River. He never achieved the greatest success enjoyed by the Richardsons and the Till family: a tour of the country was planned, but unfortunately he died a few days before his debut.

The use of stone bells, known as a pin, has been adapted for Christian use in the Coptic church and can be heard, for example, in one of the monasteries on an island in the middle of Lake Tana. They hang from a rope and apparently are used functionally, such as a dinner gong.

In the region of Karelia, on the border of Finland and Russia, rock gongs have been found near petroglyphs or carved in stone. This suggests that they were used ceremonially, probably by Saami people.

There are several examples of stones that sound in Brittany. In Menec, near Carnac, there are some standing stones known as creraso “hollow stones” because of its ring. It is quite possible that the sound of the stones has been incorporated into the rituals destined for the placed stones. In Le Guildo, on the edge of the Arguenon estuary, there are some rocks that are well known locally for their propensity to sound when struck. A folklore has accumulated around it. In the sanctuary of the cave of San Gildas, near Pontivy, where, until his death in 540 AD, the Welsh missionary hermit who gave him his name used a rock gong to summon his small congregation to Mass. It may be that the gong has been previously used in pagan ceremonies. It can still be seen and, a couple of miles away, in Bieuzy’s church, there is another rock gong.
In Dordogne there are a series of caves that contain prehistoric paintings very close to stalactites that sound when they are struck and that show evidence of considerable use.
In the nineteenth century, amateur scientist Honoré Baudre spent more than thirty years looking for suitable pieces of flint for what he called his geological piano. He was invited to play at several concerts and exhibitions in France and other parts of Europe, including several concerts in Britain. A translation of a contemporary French article about him appears in another part of the site in Articles.


The composer Carl Orff (1895 (1895-07-10) – 1982) wrote for the lithophone and his student Klaus Becker-Ehmck had him build one. The instrument, which he referred to as Steinspiel, was used in particular in his opera Antigonae.

Several examples of resonant rocks have been documented. These appear to have been used for communication, for public announcements and as warning signs of imminent danger.

Before the introduction of the guitar and ukulele in Hawaiian music in the early 1880s, most of the instruments used to accompany traditional hulas were percussion. These include pairs of stone castanets that consist of round and flat pieces of basaltic lava, performed by hula dancers. Two of these pairs are in the US National Museum of Music. UU. In Vermillion, South Dakota.

Icelandic composer Elias Davidsson has used and written about lithophones.
The Sigur Rós band has also used lithophones and it is suggested that its modern use follows an ancient tradition of lithophones found in the country. They are made of basaltic isotropic stones that, as a result of climatic changes, have been divided into thin sheets or slabs.

There are ancient examples in Orissa, in southern India, of rocks and rocks that emit sound sounds when struck and that, due to their proximity to the rock carving sites, suggest they were used musically. It is believed that they date back to the Neolithic, or the last times of the Stone Age (several thousand years before Christ). Other sites in southern India also have evidence of the early use of resonant rocks. Some, cited by Catherine Fagg on Rock Music, are in Gulbarga, although it is not clear to what extent they were used significantly. There is more evidence in the work of Nicole Boivin, who has researched sites in Sangana-Kupgal, near the city of Bellary in Karnataka. Here there are resonant rocks with clear evidence of cup marks to suggest rhythmic games and are located next to petroglyphs, incised drawings in the rock.
From a more recent but still ancient era, there are many temples in India built with stone pillars that resonate with different shades, turning the entire building into a musical instrument. Examples can be found in Hampi (Karnataka), Tadpatri and Lepakshi (Andhra), Madurai, Vaishnavite shrine in Tirunalveli (or Tirunelvelei), Alagar Koil, Tenkasi, Curtalam, Alwar, Tirunagari and Suchindram in Tamil Nadu.

Suspended bell bars can sometimes be found in Buddhist temples and are very similar to those in China. It is more common for these to be metallic, but the first examples were stone. The stone is also used in wind chimes.

It is believed that gongs or bonangs in Java were originally made of stone: examples have been discovered at various sites in East and Central Java.

Rock gongs are found in several places: in central Kenya, near Embu, on the island of Mfangano on Lake Victoria, in the Kilifi district near the coast, and elsewhere. Sometimes, these have had a ritual, a sacred meaning, in other places children use them more playfully.

Like Japan, Korea adopted the Chinese form of stone bell bars for ceremonial use. In Korea, these are known as pyen kyang and comprise sixteen L-shaped slabs suspended within a frame.

There are several examples of stones that are used as a simple percussion material, without being characterized by any particular quality of tone. The National Sound Archive of the British Library has recordings of songs from Liberia’s works accompanied by stones.

Apparently, the Dogon people of Mali have used lithophones. In 1966, filmmakers Jean Rouch and Gilbert Rouget made a Batterie Dogon movie. Eléments pour a étude de rythmes on its use. There are several examples of resonant rocks, some of which may have cultural importance.

Batu Gong, near Tambunan in Malaysia, is apparently known for its musical rocks. They are large pieces of stone that lie on the ground and each emits a range of different tones and tones depending on where it is struck. Groups of local people gather to play melodies in them (possibly for the benefit of tourists who pass). What was its past cultural importance could have been unclear.

In Oaxaca, in caves associated with the Mixtec people, there are a series of stalactites, stalagmites and columns that seem to have been used for musical purposes. These caves had a particular cultural significance and were used for various rituals. In a particular cave, Las Ruinas, there are speleothems with indentations and markings that suggest they were struck percussively.

In Pohnpei, in the Caroline Islands, there is a tradition of grinding kawa root, an intoxicant widely used throughout the region, using stones in a large plate of resonant basalt. The preparation becomes a musical performance as the resulting rhythms take over the work in question.

There is a Mongolian lithophone now rarely heard known as the tsargel shuluun, whose stones are suspended by a cord in a frame. The CD Musique et Chants of Tradition Populaire Mongolie Grem G7511 contains a track played on an instrument composed of fourteen stones by a musician from Bayan Khongor in southern Mongolia.

The stones have been used in different ways in Maori music. Unusually, stone (along with bone and wood) has been used to make flutes that mimic the sound of birds. In particular, the stone koauau is used to replicate the bell-shaped notes of the bird known as kokako. Stone has also been used to make bullroarers in which “the spirit of the player travels along the cord to create the sound, which then travels in the wind to bring the player’s words and dreams to the listeners of the world”

Examples of resonant rocks with multiple cup marks have been found that suggest they have been repeatedly beaten, most likely in a rhythmic and musical way, although the exact nature of their use no longer seems to be known.

The Yoruba people have a history of using lithophones, but the best documented examples of musical stones in Nigeria are the multiple rock gongs that Bernard Fagg wrote in the 1950s and then documented in his widow’s book Catherine “Rock Music “(1997). The most notable are found in Birnin Kudu in the state of Kano. These rock gongs have been used for communication, rituals and recreational use. It may also be used for musical performances together.

The painted cave of Escoural in Evora is similar to those of Dordogne in France, since it combines rock paintings with stalactites that show signs of having been repeatedly beaten. This suggests evidence of rituals dating back to Paleolithic times.

Alla Ablova of the Petrozavodsk Conservatory in Russia is an authority on ancient lithophones discovered in various parts of the world. He has written in particular about some that appear in several legends and popular songs of the Karelia region of Russia and in Saami folk tales.

There are several stones that sound in Scotland, at least some of which had a ritual significance in ancient times. One of them, “Arnhill”, also known as “Ringing Stane” and “Haddock Stone” located near Huntly in Aberdeenshire, is part of a stone circle. Others include Johnston Stone, also in Aberdeenshire, and The Ringing Stone or Clach o’Choire on Tiree Island in the Inner Hebrides.

Catherine Fagg, in her book Rock Music, mentions several stones in the Britstown district, in central South Africa, but could not establish her level of importance within the community. In many parts of the world, there is sometimes a reluctance to talk about the sound of stones, possibly due to their sacred quality, and even their whereabouts remain a local secret.

The rock gongs are located on the west bank of the Nile and were also documented by Bernard Fagg. One appeared in the first documentary series of the BBC Lost Kingdoms of Africa and it was suggested that many other gongs, whose use dates back to 5000 BC, have been discovered there in the Nubian desert.

In western Sumatra there are some ancient musical rocks known as talempong batu that can be seen in Nagari Talang Anau. Of the photographs they look a little like those found in Vietnam. It seems likely that they were the predecessors of the metal gongs known as talempong found in the same region. It is unknown how old they are or what social function they may have originally had, although they would surely have had ceremonial use. Apparently, talempong batu are still considered locally as possessors of spiritual powers and it is said that in case of an impending disaster, the stones will emit strange and strange noises.

On the island of Gotland there is a granite rock that sounds with cup marks, indicating a probable repeated reproduction. It is reputed to have been used in ancient times as a sacrificial stone and a pagan altar.

The well-documented rock gong shown below is located in Moru Koppies, in the Serengeti National Park of Tanzania. Unlike some rock gongs that are part of a larger rock formation, it is independent. Cup marks, resulting from years of being hit, are clearly visible and cover each side. It is not known with certainty how it was used, although it may have played a role in the Masai culture. There are many other examples of resonant rocks found in Tanzania, some of which may have been used in ancestral and rainy ceremonies.

The Kabiyé people, from a region of northern Togo, a small state in West Africa that lies between Benin and Ghana, play musical stones for ceremonial and ritual purposes. The reproduction of music is strictly linked to the agricultural seasons and these musical stones can only be played for a short period, after the harvest, between November and January. The stones, known as Comopichanchalassi, are placed on the ground, generally, apparently, in a set of five, each with a different tone, and struck with another smaller stone. In the CD Togo de Ocora you can listen to several tracks with the reproduction of the pichanchalassi.

Together with Nigeria and Sudan, Uganda can boast a series of natural rock gongs. These have been documented in the book Rock Music by Catherine Fagg.
It seems that sometimes they have been used ritually and their whereabouts is sometimes a local secret. More profanely, children often use them as a play area. In 2007, composer Nigel Osborne assumed a commission in collaboration with London Sinfonietta based on the sounds of rock gongs on the island of Lolui Island located on Lake Victoria.


The Great Stalacpipe Organ, Luray Caverns, Shenandoah National Park.
The instrument is the creation of the mathematician and scientist of the Pentagon Leland W. Sprinkle and was built in 1954. When you play the keyboard you shoot rubber-tipped decks, which hit the stalactites in the surrounding caverns, carefully chosen for the precision of their tone . The organ claims to be the largest musical instrument in the world.

The Pipestone quarry, Minnesota, mentioned by Longfellow in “The Song of Hiawatha,” is the source of a soft clay stone carved by the Sioux in ceremonial tubes. They also created musical instruments from pipestone. This rare example of a non-percussive lithophone is found in the National Museum of Music in Vermillion, South Dakota.

Resonant rocks are a well known feature of the landscape near Easton. It is not known to what extent these had some ancient ritual significance. Its main cultural role comes from tourism.

Here stone castanets known as qayraq/kayrak or “black stones”, two in each hand, are played to accompany the dance.

In the early twentieth century, several archaeological excavations in South America unearthed what was thought to be examples of stone percussion. A funerary cave in Niquivao in Trujillo, Venezuela, contained rectangular serpentine plates with incisions that suggested they could have been suspended for use as a type of bell or gong.

Many different tone stone groups have been found in Vietnam, indicating that they were being used musically thousands of years ago. The first of these was discovered by a French archaeologist Georges Condominas in 1949. Some of Vietnam’s minorities, such as the M’nong, most of whom live in the central highlands, have continued to use these stones. Although it is not essential for traditional Vietnamese music as it is presented today, its place is recognized and some musicians have built their own modern versions and continue playing them. The Vietnamese name is dan da. The ancient set of stones seen in the photo below was seen in a music store in Hanoi. An article by Mike Adcock about a trip to Vietnam in search of musical stones appears in the Articles section of this site.

The Pembrokeshire village of Maenclochog in Dyfed is located south of the Preseli hills. Its name is Welsh to sound the stone, in reference to two large stones that adorned the landscape. That was until the end of the 18th century when they were dismantled to build roads defying the wishes of the local population. It seems that there are still other stones that sound in the region, some with cup marks.

Several rock gongs and resonant stones have been documented in Zimbabwe. As in other parts of Africa, some of these seem to have been used as means of communication over long distances. Others have a sacred meaning and are believed to speak the voices of ancestors. Near Muzondo, in the Musombo and Chiramba region, musical performances have been documented together, using mujejeje, the word Shona for musical stones.


Vibration Principle of The Kybalion:
«Nothing is still; everything moves; everything vibrates. »

This principle contains the truth that everything is in motion, that nothing remains motionless, both of which are confirmed by modern science, and each new discovery verifies and verifies it. And, in spite of everything, this hermetic principle was enunciated hundreds of years by the Masters of ancient Egypt. This principle explains the differences between the various manifestations of matter, of force, of the mind and even of the same spirit, which are nothing but the result of the various vibratory states. From EVERYTHING, which is pure spirit, to the grossest form of matter, everything is in vibration: the higher it is, the higher its position on the scale. The vibration of the spirit is of infinite intensity; so much that it can practically be considered as if it were at rest, in the same way that a wheel that spins very quickly seems to be without movement. And at the other end of the scale there are forms of very dense matter, whose vibration is so weak that it also seems to be at rest. Between the two poles there are millions of millions of degrees of vibrational intensity. From the corpuscle and the electron, from the atom and the molecule to the star and the Universes, everything is in vibration. And this is equally true with regard to the states or planes of energy or force (which is nothing more than a certain vibratory state), and the mental and spiritual planes. A perfect understanding of this principle enables the hermetic student to control their own mental vibrations, as well as those of others. The Masters also use this principle to conquer natural phenomena. “He who understands the vibratory principle has reached the scepter of power,” said one of the oldest writers.

Youtube link:

Sources: http://www.lithophones.com/ http://www.wikipedia.com