Richardson's Original Monster Rock Band
So you think that rock music is something new under this
sun? Well, the title of this section is from a public hand bill
printed in 1840. The Richardson family built a rock xylophone
taking thirteen years of cutting and fitting together. This
incredible instrument covered seven octaves and came from
the Skiddaw Mountain in the Lakeland region of England. The
stones are rendered musical because of a freak of nature
caused by an active volcano of Skiddaw which overflowed.
The lava, unable to flow out evenly all around because of the
other close mountains, became compressed over a very
Today, the stones are rare, particularly those with a deep tone, so that is impossible, or certainly
improbable that new xylophone could be cut.
However, another Lakeland family did make a xylophone in 1881 and toured the United States, and the
instrument is in the Museum of Orange, New Jersey.
Stones were of utmost importance in the music of China. There is a Chinese tradition that about 2,000
years ago, a complete stone chime was found in a pool and then became a model of future
Another legend dates stone chimes back to 2300 B.C. About this time, a chant refers to a musical
" When I smite my musical stone - be it gently or strong
Then do the fiercest hearts leap for joy
and the chiefs do agree among themselves,
When ye make to resound the stone melodious,
When ye touch the lyre that is called Ch'in,
Then do the ghosts of the ancestors come to hear." 39
In Confucian music, the stone was struck to end a verse and transmit the tone to the next verse.
The materials of the instruments in a Chinese orchestra were believed to express the changes and
permutations taking place in the universe.
Lithophones have been found elsewhere in the world; Ethiopia, Nigeria, Venezuela, and in Europe on
the island of Chios and Sardinia. In southern India there are musical stone pillars and the Ye stones of
the Central Highlands of West New Guinea. There is a West Polynesian rite to prepare the intoxicating
drink Kawa for religious purposes. Maidens perform the solemn ceremony of sitting on the ground and
pulverizing the roots of the pepper plant, piper methysticum, on flat, sonorous stones which are
insulated with small pieces of coconut and tuned to definite pitches.
Laura Bolton in her book The Music Hunter describes two lithophones found in 1950 in what is now
central Vietnam, made by the Bacsonians, a tropical race of Stone Age men that may date the
instruments as much as nine thousand years old. They may turn out to be the oldest known musical
instruments in the world.
The Rolling Stones have been with us a long time!
* * * * * * * * * *
"We prefer to look at flowers, but not through
botany, for it seems that if we look at them
alone, we see a beauty of nature's poetry, a
direct gift from the Divine, and if we look at
botany alone, we see the beauty of nature's
intellect, a direct gift of the Divine, if we
look at both together, we see nothing." 40
39. Blades, James. Percussion Instruments and their History
40. Ives, Charles. Essays Before a Sonata. Bew York: W. W. Norton & Co., Inc. 1970, p. 339