Cumbria

Lake District rocks used to create musical instrument

  • 19 August 2010
  • From the section Cumbria
Ruskin Rocks lithophone
Dame Evelyn Glennie and Dr Kia Ng test the lithophone at Leeds University

A musical instrument made of rocks quarried from the Lake District has been unveiled in Cumbria.

The lithophone, which looks like a glockenspiel, was created by scientists at the University of Leeds.

It is part of a £200,000 project aimed at introducing children to music and science.

World renowned percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie played the instrument in public for the first time at a special event at Coniston.

The project - dubbed Ruskin Rocks - was inspired by the artist John Ruskin, who had a crude lithophone made for him at his home at Brentwood, Coniston, in 1884.

The 21st Century version has been created by a team of geologists, musical scientists and a host of quarry firms throughout the Lake District.

'Natural curiosity'

Much of the funding for the project has come from Natural England and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The lithophone has been made from four different types of rock and has a four octave range.

Dame Evelyn said: "This project seeks to unlock the potential of the fabric of our landscape to teach us not only about the past but also the future.

"It is right and proper that the natural curiosity of children is embraced and they will be able to embed their findings of both music and geology into the history books of tomorrow.

"My hope is that many others will follow in our footsteps and add to this initial development of an interesting instrument thus unlocking the mysteries of these ancient rocks and landscape."

Project co-ordinator, Bobbie Millar, from Leeds University, said: "This is a great example of bringing together different disciplines to create something that is unusual, exciting and accessible."

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