From sculptures to a
solo and ensemble instrument
A research project by
Normisa Pereira da Silva in collaboration
with Christoph Nicolaus
For many people, myself
included, stones are an attractive universe of shapes and
When I look at a stone, I sometimes ask myself how old it
might be. Some of them would probably tell me that they
are already over four billion years old. That is a
dimension beyond my imagination, but it leaves a feeling
of vastness and eternity.
We know the sound dimensions of stones, which are also
very rich in colors and frequencies, primarily as
percussive sound sources. Typical stone harp tones, on the
other hand, are long-lasting sounds. This allows their
hidden voices, as gentle individual sounds or as complex
sound clusters to fully unfold.
As a flutist, I find the connection between "air and
stone" very beautiful.
With certain intervals between bass flute and stone harp,
a very homogeneous sound results, as if the flute tones
had become part of the sound spectrum of the stone harp.
With this research, I wanted to learn more about stone
harps in general and in connection with bass flute. In
addition, I also asked myself the following specific
question: How can an equal temperament tuned instrument
interact with the random pitches of the stone harps? Can
my hearing get used to unusual pitch ratios?
The frequencies of the stone harps cannot be precisely
determined during construction. The colors and textures of
the sounds are also unpredictable. Each stone harp remains
an individual, full of secrets and surprises, as Christoph
Nicolaus will tell us in more detail.
Notes after conversations
Normisa Pereira da Silva and Christoph Nicolaus
I. Stone harps,
personal and general
Once in 2006, when I was in the sauna thinking about the
concert series Klang im Turm, I dozed off a little. In this
dreamy state an instruction suddenly flashed through my
mind: "Make music with stones". Surprised and clueless about
what this could mean, I found the inspiration immediately
attractive and exciting, because in the past, from the
beginning of my sculptural activity, I loved stone sculpture
very much and made some sculptures with this material.
At home I went on the Internet and came across the pages of
Klaus Fessmann, who at that time had been working for a few
years with "Klangstein" ("sound stone"), as he and their
inventor Elmar Daucher call them.
Front: Kudia; center with wave: Ra'ad; back right:
Hakim; back center: Hawa
From sculpture to sound
Stone instruments in which stones are struck with other
stones, metal, wood, or other mallets have been around for a
very long time. However, the fact that stone blocks, cut to
a certain depth, can be made to vibrate with wet hands was a
discovery of the stone sculptor Elmar Daucher. I knew images
of his work, which I had seen years ago as a student, but
actually knew nothing about their sonic dimension.
Daucher's sculptural path led to the creation of his first
sound stone in 1974, which he made in various forms and
types of stone until his death in 1989. For him the
sculptural unity was the decisive criterion of his work.
After Elmar Daucher's death, Klaus Fessmann, among others,
coming from music, investigated the tonal aspects and
continued to work on these phenomena. Through him I found
this instrument, which I call "Steinharfe" ("stone harp"),
because the way of playing is distantly related to the harp
and the name allows many associations, including poetic
ones. In addition, the term seems more specific to me, since
every stone that is somehow made to sound is a "soundstone".
Stone harps are made from a block. The block can be made
from various stone materials and have different sizes and
My stone harps are all made of South Indian gabbro, with
which I have had the best experience. https://geowiki.geo.lmu.de/wiki/Gabbro
They are cuboid except for surface on top. With all stone
harps, the depth (i.e, the north-south direction on the
upper side) is set on a diagonal. This diagonal allows for
the different pitches. In addition, with some stone harps
the breadth (i.e., the east-west direction on the upper
side) is rounded, while on others it is flat with angular
edges on the sides. After shaping, my stone harps were
sanded and polished on all sides. Then, vertical parallel
cuts were sawn into the block in a west-east direction - but
only to a predetermined depth, leaving a mass of stone, a
base, at the bottom to hold the stone together. Just imagine
a comb stretched out in width. Thus you get fixed parallel
blades of a certain length, width and thickness. The
thickness varies between 15mm and 30mm.
These blades or plates are also called lamellas.
It is always an adventure when you make a new stone harp. It
is never foreseeable beforehand what the result will be. You
can specify how big you want the stone harp to be, the slope
and shape of the top, the thickness of the slats, and the
depth of the cut. But you still never know what will come
I think if you saw a large block of stone in half and made
two stone harps from both parts with quite identical
parameters, they would still sound different. I have never
tried this, but I believe it because even a tiny hairline
crack, a small grain in the stone, or a tiny difference in
structure changes the sound.
You could, of course, go and try to design the sounds
afterwards into a certain direction by further grinding the
slades, i.e. try to "tune" them. The only question is
whether that would suit this instrument? Or whether this
unique characteristic of each stone harp is not also just
the special quality of this sound object. And whether it is
not therefore essential to accept it just as it is? This is
to say: The stone comes from the quarry, is processed and
then the stone harp is simply this individual. Personally, I
think it's actually very beautiful that way.
Lamellas make the sound
The playing method described in more detail below sets the
lamellas into sound-producing vibration.
Since my stone harps are all cuboid-shaped, the length and
thickness of the lamellae cause the pitch to vary. The
longer the lamella, the lower the pitch. In contrast to
stringed instruments, the thicker the lamella, the higher
the pitch, and vice versa, the thinner the lamella, the
lower the pitch.
The range of a stone harp is determined by the number of
lamellae, their respective thickness, as well as the
diagonal inclination of the upper side. The slope determines
the length of the individual lamellae. With a steep slope,
the pitches of the slats are further apart than with a flat
How to play
So that the stone harps are at a playable height, they stand
on a pedestal. In my case, these are little wooden tables
closed on the sides, which my son Valentin built for me, and
which are also resonators. Next to the stones are water
To start playing, dip your clean hands into the water and
then stroke very lightly and delicately, and without
exerting pressure horizontally over the surface of the
stone. The friction causes first the lamella and then the
whole stone to vibrate and sound.
Depending on how you play, you can produce different tones
on the lamella. Two can be distinguished most clearly,
namely a high and a low tone. This has to do with the part
of the hand with which one strokes the lamella. With the
hard parts of the hand, i.e., the finger bones, or when the
hands are fully stretched, the high tone of the plate is
made to sound. However, with the soft parts of the hand,
i.e., the palms, as well as the soft tissue at the base of
the fingers, the low tone of the lamella is produced. If one
is practiced, one can also play both tones simultaneously.
And of course, several slats can be stroked and made to
sound at the same time. You can play several high notes
together, or several low notes, or multi-tone mixed sounds
with high and low notes.
The sound spectrum ranges from a very soft, barely audible
tone to a very polyphonic and loud cloud of sound. The sound
can be short, or it can be sustained for a long time as a
The sounds resonate immediately when played. They can fade
out slowly or stop abruptly.
If one only hears the strange, unfamiliar tones without
knowing or seeing the instrument, one quickly thinks of
electronically generated sound structures.
Some of the blades sound like a sine tone, others have many
overtones. Some are clear, precise, present and penetrating.
Some sound thinner, more restrained, more withdrawn. Some
have something slightly buzzy and jangly. Some are
bell-like. Some are stationary, others are undulating. In
addition, there can be a great deal of incidental noise
created by playing, which results in unique characteristics.
In most cases, a lamella sounds somewhat different when
played on the top than on the sides. On the top, the low
tones are also easier to produce. However, they usually
sound somewhat duller there than on the side surfaces.
This all varies from lamella to lamella and from stone harp
to stone harp. Because each stone harp is unique and one of
a kind, it has its own personal character.
The sound can change with the slightest movement of a part
of the hand or a change of pressure.
The amount of water on the stone and on the hands also
influences it in a special way. For example, I like to start
by playing a single stable tone, or a mixed sound with
several tones at the same time, and then change my manner of
playing as little as possible. Even then the sound changes
slowly. And that is just by the reduction of the water
through evaporation and flowing off. It's incredible what
happens to the sound when I just let this happen. Because
the friction constantly changes due to the lessening of the
water, the sounds also change, even though I maintain the
same manner of playing. At some point there is no more water
at all and the whole stone is dry. Then there is only the
sound of dry hands stroking the polished stone. In between,
however, there are many intermediate stages. At first the
sound remains stable for a while. Then as the water slowly
decreases, the previously high-pitched sound slowly changes
to the low-pitched sound of the lamella. In a multifaceted
mixed sound, this does not happen simultaneously. But it
happens with the individual lamellae, fluidly following each
other and merging into each other. When the hands and the
stone are almost dry, often the sound suddenly becomes high
again. It can almost become a whistle, until it once again
takes on the low register, or dies away. Sometimes
individual lamella tones disappear and then come back again.
It is never possible to predict exactly what will happen.
Sometimes, when you are playing a polyphonic sound structure
(with many notes sounding simultaneously) and not changing
anything in the manner of playing, one tone starts to stand
out. This builds slowly, as a tone which was not at all
there before, starts to settle in. You hear it coming very
softly and cautiously. It then becomes stronger and
stronger, and after a while it rises above the others and
stands out. This simply happens, uninfluenced by the will.
But you can feel in your hand precisely where this sound
comes from, since it arises in the interaction between the
stone, the player and the hands. This tone can then also
disappear again and perhaps then another one comes forward.
This event cannot be reproduced in exactly the same way,
because for that to happen it would have to be created
willfully. One knows where these sounds come from, but it
only works when one lets the stone take its own course,
revealing itself. As a player one is only the "drive belt"
with no desire to form something.
One does not consciously contribute to these variations. But
man is not a machine and perhaps one hand moves in a
slightly different way and a well-rehearsed, sensitive stone
harp reacts to this immediately.
Diversity and sensitivity are also reflected in the
playing-in of the stone harps.
It is normal that the freshly worked stones have to be
played-in. They develop only over the course of time, until
they find their inherent sound potential. This can take a
long or short time, depending on the stone. It is difficult
to say why this is the case. It of course has something to
do with the material. Gabbro, based on what I've thus far
been able to try, is the best stone for stone harps. But it
also depends on the area in which the quarry is located and
then where in the quarry the stone was found. The last stone
harps I got sounded pretty good right from the start and
needed relatively little break-in time. Some, however, like
the Hakim described below, sounded like a castrated rooster
at first and took a very long time to find their way.You can
also tell when a stone harp is in tune by the following
special phenomenon: with a well-tuned stone harp, the hand
only needs to touch the stone very lightly and you can play
for a long time until you have to take up water again. With
stone harps that are not yet in tune, the resistance is
greater, the stone requires a little more pressure and the
sound is less stable. And you need a lot of water. The hands
dry out very quickly and cannot hold the sound for long.
You have to be very careful when playing them in, and allow
them to unfold slowly. It is important to give the stone
time and to let it rest again and again: to let it simply
be. Because a lot also happens only in the times when the
stone is simply left alone and it can thus align itself
It is also important to mention that even later the sounds
can develop further quite unexpectedly. This also happens
very slowly. But then suddenly sounds appear that were not
there before, and then they stay. The stone harps and their
sounds are in constant evolution, though later of course a
bit less than at the beginning. It can take a long time for
new sounds to come forward. This does not have to happen,
but it can.
In any case, it is often a mystery, a riddle. And many
questions still remain open.
The effect of the stone
The stone starts to vibrate and oscillate. Then the wooden
table on which the stone stands vibrates, and finally the
floor vibrates as well. Because of this, depending on where
you live, you can get into big trouble with the neighbors.
In the past, I sometimes liked to play late at night. Out of
consideration, of course, only very quietly. Nevertheless,
it didn't last long, because even when playing very quietly,
the vibrations were transmitted down through the floor and
walls. My neighbor, who lived two floors below, reported
that in her bedroom it sounded as if there was a washing
machine on spin cycle next to the bed.
Playing the stone harp has a great effect. It is a powerful
physical experience to do so. The stone is at stomach and
chest level. The waves that the stone produces go directly
to that area. And of course, these waves also go into the
body through the hands, which touch the stone for the entire
duration of the game. The hands are strongly sensitized,
they "tingle", as does the whole body.
I don't know if everyone feels this way. When I first
started to play for a longer time, my state of consciousness
was changed decisively. It was like I was in a trance. On
the one hand I was wide awake and clear, but at the same
time my actions slowed way down. There was a great
discrepancy between perceiving and recognizing what needed
to be done in a certain situation, and reactively putting it
After each performance, people come to me, fascinated by
this instrument which is new to them, and they have many
questions. Often they report having new, previously unknown
listening experiences. For some, it triggers deep feelings
and strong emotions. It can even happen that people leave
the room because they cannot stand this intensity, or their
There are visitors who would like to try it out for
themselves. Some manage to create sounds very quickly.
Others try very hard and nothing comes. Those who succeed
quickly are always amazed at what it does to them - their
body and their mind. That is, they are surprised at the
physical and inner reactions that happen. Often the
expressions go in the direction that it is a beautiful
"widening" that arises.
Nevertheless, it happens rather rarely that someone really
wants to get into playing the stone harp. Why, I do not
With me it was like that: I had a strong enthusiasm for it
right from the beginning. Maybe because I come from a
material-molding branch of sculpture and loved to work with
wonderful stone as a material. I stopped doing that for
various reasons, but I missed it sometimes. Therefore, I was
immediately euphoric when I came across this stone
instrument, from which you can elicit wonderful sounds with
the utmost delicacy of hands. Perhaps you need a special
love for stone and a longing to touch it, so that you are
not deterred by its heaviness. After all, it is more
unwieldy than a string or wind instrument.
I like to put the stone harps in the sun and play with warm
water, because I have the feeling that they like that. But
I've also left them in a cold church or an unheated
industrial building for long periods of time in the winter,
and they sounded very good then, despite the cold room
The stones are very different. Each stone harp is unique.
You are really dealing with individuals here. Some are very
sensitive to temperature but also to the smallest
influences, others are less so.
Like any instrument, stone harps must be handled well. This
is because the slats can break off if they receive a blow,
if the stone harp is lifted incorrectly, or of course if it
falls to the ground. But they are still easy to transport.
The smaller ones I can carry alone. For larger ones, I need
the help of a second person. I have a "flight case" for each
stone, i.e. a well-padded box adapted to the respective
stone. So transport, even in an airplane, is no problem.
II. Examples of four
Rasha, the woman by whose side I am privileged to live, has
given Arabic names to my stone harps.
1. Hakim (C#3 - 31)
I have had this stone harp for 12 years.
It has 12 blades and weighs about 80 kg. It is a flat wide
surface on top. It is not so high but relatively wide
compared to my other stone harps. Although the harp is
not so tall, the width causes a deeper sound spectrum. The
slope in north-south direction is relatively steep. Some
slats have different thicknesses. The top ones, the longest
three, are slightly thicker. After that, the next ones are
20mm thick. And the last one, the shortest one is quite thin
at 15mm. As already described above, along with the height
and the width, the thickness of the slats also plays a role
for the pitches. The thicker, the higher and the thinner,
the lower the pitch.
When brand new this stone harp was quite dull in tone,
buzzing or croaking. It sounded cramped, as if locked in and
squeezed. But I had a particular feeling from the beginning
that it would be quite a great stone harp. As already
described, the freshly worked stones have to be played-in.
With this stone harp, it took the longest of all my stones.
I would say that it took me three years until it found its
quality, which then pleased me very much. It has now become,
as I felt at the beginning with her, a very nice sounding
stone harp with a good sound spectrum.
2. Hawa (D-Stone)
It is a stone harp with 8 lamellae and at the same time the
highest of all my stones. I also got her 12 years ago, at
the same time as Hakim. Unlike Hakim, however, it was not so
bulky from the beginning, but it already had relatively nice
tones. So it wasn't quite as complicated to ?tune? her and
it didn't take three to four years. One can never say
exactly why this is so. Every stone is individual and reacts
in a very specific way. Perhaps it was because it has higher
and narrower lamellas than Hakim. For this reason it is
easier for it to vibrate.
Hawa has a relatively flat slope. The longest two slats are
both 5mm thicker than the other six. The difference in the
lengths, and thus the pitches, of the respective slats is
not that great.
Recently, however, a stone harp broke, which made me very
sad. She was my oldest and very beloved stone harp with
which many concerts were played. I liked her very much, it
is described last below.
So I thought of giving Hawa a different, more variable sound
quality. It had a very high base at the bottom. That is, the
cuts were only sawed in so far that there was still a
cohesive stone mass of 12 cm at the bottom. However, it is
quite possible to saw deeper and leave less mass at the
bottom as a base. I took the stone harp to the stonemason,
who has the necessary wire saw, and asked him to deepen the
cuts so that the mass remaining below as a base tapers
diagonally from 12 cm to 6 cm. I was interested in getting a
greater diversity of lamella lengths and thus of tone
frequencies. So I allowed the shortest lamella to stay at
the depth it was. It is still the shortest one with the
smallest cut. Therefore, the highest slat now has the
deepest cut. In between, the cutting depths are graduated.
When I got the stone harp back from the stonemason, the
pitches were initially relatively close to each other, as
before. The longer I work with it now, the more they slowly
It is quite likely that the whole internal structure of the
stone has to adjust first. And it can take time for the new
tonal mood to settle in.
Kudia (round stone with hole)
This stone harp has 12 lamellae, all with the same
thickness. It has a slope that is not quite as steep as
Hakim, and is similar in height, but not as wide. It differs
additionally in that it is round at the top in the east-west
orientation, like a semicircle. The roundness at the top
allows the hands to move variably and seamlessly over the
surfaces of the stone harp. And this allows the sounds to be
modulated differently. One can move more slowly and fluidly
from one tonal quality to another. On the other hand, with a
stone harp that is flat at the top in the east-west
extension and has edges at the corners, one can
differentiate more clearly between sounds produced on the
top surface or sounds produced on the side surfaces.
This round stone harp is one of my newest. And it sounded
very beautiful and mature from the beginning, which was a
happy surprise! Of course, even with her the sound is still
developing, but here it was already very clear and present
from the beginning.
>> (from 32:40)
4. Ra'ad (ex E-stone)
Unfortunately this stone harp broke quite recently. It was,
along with another, bigger one, my oldest stone, and had a
very nice and long developed sound.
It had 8 slats, all with a relatively thin depth of 20mm.
The slope of the top in north-south extension was fairly
shallow, making the notes close together. It was the only
one of my stone harps to have the distinctive feature of
having a wave shape at the top with a trough in the middle.
The wave on the top, similar to the round stone Kudia
already described, allowed the hands to "float" easily over
the surfaces of the stone harp when playing, without being
interrupted by a square edge.
I used it in many concerts, including the joint performances
of the pieces of Hildegard of Bingen with Normisa Pereira da
It fell to the floor and broke when I pulled the wooden
resonance box on which the stone stood a little closer to
me, as I have been doing for years without any problems. But
this time the whole thing suddenly tilted, I couldn't stop
it. The stone slid, fell to the floor and all the slats
In the pieces with Normisa, the "E" at 160 hertz was an
important drone, as here in a concert in the Basilica of St.
Emmeram in Regensburg:
20:30 "O virtus
sapientiae" by Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179).
For bass flute and stone harp.
Other stone harps have this sound too and I thought it
should work with these as well. But it does not. Despite
having the same pitch, the effect together with the bass
flute is different. The spectrum of overtones and the
resonance is different. Also, the more or less strong noise
components produced during playing are larger. Which of
course can also have a very beautiful effect, depending on
the composition. From this you can see again how unique and
unreplaceable each stone harp is.
07:55 sound sample
stone harp and bass flute
In the search for possibilities of interplay between bass
flute and stone harp, I have investigated a total of three
different forms to enable an approximation between a
respective tempered and non-tempered instrument.
I) Tone sequence of the
Listening to single tones and replaying them
Since the bass flute, unlike many C-flutes (orchestra
flute), has no open key holes, all pitch adjustments must be
achieved by lip and head movements. Because of this, the
range for raising the pitch is very small, but for lowering
it is relatively large. For example, a C#3 - 31 cents is
easier to achieve than a C5 + 15 cents. The solution to
reach a C5 + 15 cents was to reach half a tone higher and
then lower this tone.
Since this method of action is less precise than closing or
opening a key, the result was often unpredictable. However,
it became more precise through practical experience.
Although the adjustments between bass flute and stone harp
are more complex, the intonation of historical transverse
flutes, for example, is equally compensated by lip and head
Of course, the instrumentalist can get used to the specific
pitches of the stone harp slats, for example with the help
of a tuner. For me, however, the pitch of each lamella was
linked to its corresponding color and sound spectrum. This
made the recognition process easier and more precise.
Exemplary tone sequence of
a stone harp
Hakim low register
Hakim high register
register of Hakim stone harp and bass flute
tones (mp3) >>
II) One drone
The stone harp holds one note while the bass flute plays
For this form of interplay we were looking for a drone that
required a not too big adjustment of the bass flute to allow
the balance between all intervals.
As Christoph Nicolaus explains in the Ra'ad (Ex E-stone)
section, the pitch itself is not the only decisive factor in
the choice of tone. Some notes of the stone harp, when
played together with the bass flute, produce a homogeneous
sound mixture, while others produce a more complex sound
mixture with more noise components and dissonant overtones.
Playing with one
drone - recording:
See link at the section: 4.Ra'ad (Ex E-stone).
III) Multiple drones
Here the stone harp plays with a limited number of drones,
while the bass flute plays intervals with and around these
sample (mp3) >>
If we were to continue this process, the more notes the
stone harp would use and the faster the change between the
notes, the more this form of interaction would approach an
ordinary interaction between two temperamentally tuned
Selection of works
for and with stone harp(s)
André O. Möller
music for stone harps
(with audio excerpts) >>
sometime around 2007/08 christoph nicolaus and i decided
to work together with his new instruments, so called
stone harps. these are blocks of black granite, roughly
cut into a conical (harplike) form, so that when
material sawn out and taken away, the remaining object
consists of a number of increasing in length plates,
furtherly shaped and polished.
the overall size and shape of these "harps" may vary
extensively. in order to get sounds out of these heavy
instruments, one "bows" them with wet hands and/or
fingers. each of these plates has two main sounds, one
deep and one higher sound. like on any other acoustic
musical instrument, these sounds have to be developed
and the way one uses the instrument defines its sound
quality and projection. before and while building such a
stoneharp, it seams impossible to define its pitches.
this characteristic is a basis of my approach towards
composing for stone harps: each of them has its own
microtonal material and character, so we have to accept
it as given!
on this release we present two of my oldest compositions
for stone harps on cd 1 and the newest on
für eckl(a tanz der hauttöne) (2009) is an
acoustic chamber duo on two specified stone harps
recorded at kunstraum düsseldorf in 2012.
stoned fridge (2008-2019) is based on my electronic work
with the sound of a refrigerator recorded by michael
pisaro. each time that piece gets played in concert
(twice each time), we play with all layers recorded in
former concerts. this is an hommage to our friend marcus
kaiser and his piece "an einem ort - an einem anderen
ménage à trois is a composition for three
players (featuring rasha ragab) with six stone harps.
the concert recording (november 2018 at klang im dach,
munich) which was accompanied by a field-
performance-recording claude-lorrain-ambient (me 2008,
in and outside christoph's old residence) gets layered
with a private performance we did one day after the
concert, therefore the additive (double) .
the improvisations show a few glimpses of the
improvisatory potential of a single stone harp or even
six of them.
für Steinharfe und Viola
ewr 1701/02 (with audio excerpts) >>
Beuger: un lieu pour être deux
Christoph Nicolaus (Steinharfe), André O. Möller
klangraum düsseldorf / 4.7.2015 (vimeo) >>
sneeuwt maar het
sneeuwt niet meer
two performers (one playing stone harp)
Die Palmen von Beth-El
Buch der Räume und Zeiten
The performance is 55'. For every performance, two
performers play together as a Duo.
Circular Music Nr. 3
I = Instrument with exact pitches
II = Instrument without pitches / any pitches,
Player II play 8 different sounds (1-8). 1 is the lowest
sound, 8 the highest. The range and the sound qualtity
are elaborated by the player.
Part I can be transposed, making it suitable for any
Tempo is slow/very slow
Simultaneous performances with two, three or more Duos
Each Duo starts and plays independently of the others.
Heather Frasch & Koen Nutters
Quartet for München
for 4 players.
There are 4 players.
Each player chooses how to pair the following
Object, Words, Tones
with the following degrees of density:
Some, A few, None
Each category and density should be used and not
doubled. This means that each player only
uses 2 of the 3 categories presented as material for
their realization of the score because one of
the categories will be coupled with None .
A Few Tones
"Silence is at once reflective and encompassing:
taking into itself all that is audible to echo back to
me my own listening engagement? Silence binds me into
its sensorial materiality, and I start to build my own
narrative between the heard and the anticipation of
what there is to hear next...
On its way to language experience meets the symbolic
in the thick materiality of silence and
searches for words in its sensorial dept."
"Silence points out that we are working from a
position of singular non-understanding towards
fleeting congruence in the midst of incomprehension."
(Listening to Noise and Silence: Towards a Philosophy
of Sound Art. Voegelin, Salomé 2010)
Crossing Series (Canyons)
for a pitched instrument, whistling, sine
tones and a field recording
*For the first performance, a instrument called a
Steinharfe (stone harp) was used to sustain the tones.
version für steinharfe, bassklarinette, pfeifen und
myself in Finding you"
"I lost myself in Finding you" is a trio piece co
-composed by Rasga Ragab, Christoph Nicolaus and Lucio
The departure point is a selection of texts made by
Rasha. The texts have been written by Rabi´a
Al-`Adawiyya and Al- Hallaj.
Al-`Adawiyya was the first Muslim saint woman, born
between 714 and 718 AD (95 and 98 Hijri) in Basra, Iraq,
and died in her 80s in Basra in 801 AD (185 H.)
Al- Hallaj, was born March 26th 858 AD (244 H. ) in
Fars, Persia. He was executed at his birthday in March
26th 922 AD (309 H. ) in Baghdad, Iraq.
In both cases texts are devotional. Sufism or Tasawwuf
as it is known in the Muslim world, is a mysticism
mostly widespread in Islam. Sufis describes it as the
Path of Love where the human soul searches out
God, and if the grace of God falls upon the searcher,
then he or she finds fana (annihilation) in
God and, ultimately, baqa or eternal
existence in the consciousness of God.
Considering these texts we decided to play the tones of
the Stone Harp one by one from low to high in the pitch
spectrum. In this specific instrument to do that implies
to move slowly the hands from back to front. Both
movements: from low to high, and from back to front
represent the spirit of ascension towards the spiritual
and of offering towards the listeners and other humans
and creatures that we wanted to consider as main aspects
of the piece.
After deciding this basic idea, that gave a
structure to the piece, we found dynamics of
time-presence of the texts in the structure, and ways to
do it were decided by Rasha, moving intuitively from
reciting to singing, staying specially in-between both
Capece figured out series of multi phonics and pure
tones in the Bass Clarinet interacting with the Stone
Harp, trying to give special presence in the piece to
hidden overtones that become present as very delicate
beatings once they are triggered by the Stone Harp. In
all the multi phonics that Capece plays one of the
overtones is close or is a unison of the Stone Harp tone
that is played each time.
Lucio Capece: "I lost myself in Finding you"
Rasha Ragab: Voice, Text Selection; Christoph
Nicolaus: Stone Harp;
Lucio Capece: Bass Clarinet.
Perceptive Turns Festival- Berlin- 7th November 2018
Trees, part 1
"for the choice of directions", 2010
Samuel Beckett, Malone Dies
One or more players each find two sounds
with an instrument.
Each player may find a
path from one sound to the other with the instrument.
prior to my visit to Christoph's for this performance, i
had not met him, nor had i ever seen a stone harp. he
was very kind to introduce the instrument to me, to show
how it worked, and we had a wonderful rehearsal of the
piece. the affordance that the instrument has to produce
long, seemingly infinite, durations of a tone (so long
as the player is willing to put in the labor to allow
the instrument to sing) struck me, especially as i was
performing with melodica, an instrument that is limited
by the player's breath (in my case, as a non-circular
breather). this made for a beautiful duo performance,
where our sounds overlapped nicely, but only briefly, as
Christoph performed his sound(s) for a much longer
duration than i.
two and four, 2014
for two performers, one of them providing sustained
tones, the other one recording and diffusing them.
placing speaker-cardboardboxes in any part of the room,
on the shelf, on the floor, or on the table. here the
sound of the stone is transformed into four vibrating
spaces of air. this process is initiated by humans and
is then trusted to its own functioning. performed with
stoneharp in munich on february 20 2014.
'stalaktos' performance with stone harp at Klangraum,
The ensemble performs with the aid of synchronised
Any sized bass drum.
The player may employ whichever rolling technique they
prefer in order to sustain the
sound at the notated volume for the notated duration.
Any sized snare drum.
The player may employ whichever rolling technique they
prefer in order to sustain the
sound at the notated volume for the notated duration.
There are to be a minimum of 4 melodic instruments in
the ensemble up to an unlimited
X and Y are two tones, a minor 3rd apart.
Each player chooses freely their tone for X (without
communicating it to the rest of the
ensemble), and over 20 minutes descends microtonally in
a series of long notes and rests
until reaching their corresponding Y - a minor 3rd
Tones and rests are long to very long, although not
uniform in duration, and not
synchronised with any other player.
Tones are to be played without vibrato.
The player chooses a glass bottle to play, the sound of
which appeals to them. It can be of
any size or shape.
It is to be played lain flat on a piece of material
which prevents it from rolling when struck.
für Steinharfe und Viola (2007)
at one place - at another
the piece "an einem ort - an einem anderen
ort" (at one
place - at another place)
started in 2000 in cologne, Germany. with the idea of
transporting specific space acoustics from one place to
another following a particular layering process. Each
space acts as a filter that changes the material, that
a performance consists of two parts - each 25 minutes
long separated by a pause - during which the performer
plays sparse sounds of differing character (from
rather short, loud and dry to softer and very
Each part of the performance is recorded and played back
in the next; the first half in the second half, the
recording of which will become the basic layer for a
future occurrence of the work at another place.
During each part of the performance, the performer
decides how to arrange the sparse sounds that, together
with the audience and ambient sounds, will add new
material to the recorded layer in use.
As time goes by, performance after performance, a steady
dynamic balance emerges between recently added
sounds and older ones as they progressively
vanish in the background noise.
Christoph Nicolaus played the piece twice
with stone harp
(until now, mai 2021).
(kunstraum düsseldorf / christoph nicolaus stone harp /
7 / 2012)
(klang im turm munich / christoph nicolaus
stone harp / 2 / 2008)
one place - at another place / ligne sans fin >>