An interesting space exists between music, art and nature. It is a space where the philosophical and physical come together, where new food for thought is found. Here, the true essence of objects and nature, creation, as well as our self identity, can be explored and put in perspective.
One fascinating opportunity to explore this dimension is to be found in something that probably feels very far away from music and art - stones. Stones and rocks are natural elements, and are among the earliest formations of the earth as we know it today. The Incas considered stones as the “vertebral spine” of the world, and structures as Stonehenge still impress the world.
It is in the so called “island of the rocks”, Sardinia, Italy, that some sort of special energy exists around the element. The unique natural formations of different shapes extend across the whole region, with several iconic stones carved by the wind and the sun alone. The land is home to the international artist Pinuccio Sciola, who collaborated with architects as Renzo Piano, and developed a unique vision: stones have a memory and stories to tell, that are for us to unleash and listen to. The artist dedicated part of his prolific work to bring such energy to expression in the physical word, through music.
The musical stones of Sciola are artistic installations, carved stones, with intriguing geometries of lines. Such objects come in different shapes and sizes - from 15 mt tall monolyths to hand portable ones - and are able to express tones and music when one interacts with them by touching and caressing them, emitting sounds that remind of ancestral times. Seeing them in action generates a feeling of surprise, and the sounds coming from the stones are mysterious, reminding of a mixture some sci-fi ambients, processed voices, arps and glass bells.
On a more scientific basis, the stones work by reverbering the vibrations coming from the friction with the second object, be it hands or other stones. The principle is similar to the one of spinning a finger on the edge of a wine glass. It is through the cuts that rocks are tuned and able to express their form of vibration. The artist explains the passage: each rock is unique, for its shape and what he calls “memory”. Stones have and stories to tell, related to their formation and experience - am thus each of them possibly expressing different variations of sound.
Interestingly, these instruments do emit a different typology of sounds based on their original formation and the elements they were in touch with. It is surprising to hear calcareous formations, directly related to water deposits, emitting sounds which are perceived as more “liquid”. In contrast, basalt - a formation originating from volcanic eruptions, emits vibrations which are more earthly. I was impressed to see one of these basalt stones, larger than a human, emitting high-pitched, violin like vibrations when rubbed against a smooth basalt stone.
All of these attractions can be found in the musical garden close to Cagliari, where these mystical menhirs stand out in the landscape of the outside space. The island continues to amuse us, and we can’t wait to be back next season after the two events of the summer immersed in the nature at Lunaria Beach.
Credits: Art piece appearing in MAG.11 artwork is by Matthew Simmonds