may 2021


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 colors.
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 between
Normisa Pereira da Silva and Christoph Nicolaus

I. Stone harps, personal and general

Personal beginnings
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 shapes.
My stone harps are all made of South Indian gabbro, with which I have had the best experience. >>
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 out.
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 slope.

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 bowls.
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 standing tone.

Timbres/sound spectrum
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.

Adjustments while playing-in
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 internally.
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 into practice.
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 increased affection.
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 know.
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.

Ambient temperature
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 temperature.
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 sound stones

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.

sound sample >>

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 differentiate.
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.

sound sample >>

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.

sound sample >>
and >> (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 Silva.
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 broke off.
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 lamellae -
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 movements.
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

sound sample
High register of Hakim stone harp and bass flute tones (mp3) >>

II) One drone
The stone harp holds one note while the bass flute plays different intervals.
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 notes.

sound sample (mp3) >>

Further steps

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 instruments.


Selection of works for and with stone harp(s)



André O. Möller
music for stone harps

ewr1917/18 (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
cd 2.

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 ort".

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.


Burkhard Schlothauer
seven microtonal melodies
für Steinharfe und Viola

Burkhard Schlothauer
stein reiben
für Steinharfe

ewr 1701/02 (with audio excerpts) >>


Johnny Chang
Nicolaus Resonances


Antoine Beuger


Antoine Beuger: un lieu pour être deux
Christoph Nicolaus (Steinharfe), André O. Möller (Gitarre)
klangraum düsseldorf / 4.7.2015 (vimeo) >>


Dante Boon
Duo (stone harp)



Dante Boon
het sneeuwt       maar het sneeuwt niet meer
two performers (one playing stone harp)

Dante Boon
Die Palmen von Beth-El 
four performers



Jürg Frey
Buch der Räume und Zeiten

The performance is 55'. For every performance, two performers play together as a Duo.


Jürg Frey
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 other instrument.
Tempo is slow/very slow
Simultaneous performances with two, three or more Duos are possible.
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 categories:
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 .
For instance:
Some Words
A Few Tones
No Objects

"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)


Koen Nutters

Heather Frasch


Michael Pisaro
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.


Radu Malfatti
"für Tashi"


version für steinharfe, bassklarinette, pfeifen und bassharmonika


Lucio Capece
"I lost myself in Finding you"

"I lost myself in Finding you" is a trio piece co -composed by Rasga Ragab, Christoph Nicolaus and Lucio Capece.
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 possibilities.
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 (youtube) >>


Seamus Cater
Trees, part 1


Sam Sfirri
"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.

some thoughts:

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.


Stefan Thut
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.


Rishin Singh
'stalaktos' (2016)

'stalaktos' performance with stone harp at Klangraum, Düsseldorf 2017


The ensemble performs with the aid of synchronised stopwatches.

Bass Drum:
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.
Snare Drum:
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.
Melodic Instruments:
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 below.
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.
Glass Bottle:
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.


Thomas Stiegler
Und.Ging.Außen.Vorüber Vl
für Steinharfe und Viola (2007) 


Marcus Kaiser
at one place - at another place
(since 2000)

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 erodes it.
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 long).

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)

at one place - at another place / ligne sans fin >>

Andre Cormier


Gefördert von:

musikfonds neustartkultur