Caveman xylophone played once again (video) | Bangkok Post: learning

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Caveman xylophone played once again (video)

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Stone-cutter taps stones in museum & discovers ancient musical instruments, not grain-grinders. 

Paleomusicologist and lithophone specialist Erik Gonthier plays a prehistoric lithophone, in Paris, on March 11, 2014 (AFP/File, Jacques Demarthon)


Caveman rock music makes a comeback

By Mariette le Roux (AFP) – Mar 16, 2014 

Historian Odile Romain (L) touches a prehistoric lithophone, next to paleomusicologist and litophone specialist Erik Gonthier, in Paris, on March 11, 2014 (AFP/File, Jacques Demarthon)

Paris — Thousands of years after they resonated in caves, two dozen stone chimes or lithophones used by our prehistoric ancestors will make music for the first time in thousands of years in a unique series of concerts in Paris.

After just three shows they will never be played again to avoid damaging them, since playing them could add to the wear and tear on the musical instruments.

Dubbed "Paleomusique", the music that will be played on the stone chimes or xylophone was written by classical composer Philippe Fenelon to showcase the mineral clang and echo of instruments from beyond recorded time.

They will be played xylophone-style by four percussionists from the French National Orchestra gently tapping the stones with mallets.

The point is to highlight our ancestors' musical side, which is often overshadowed by their rock-painting and tool-making prowess...

...The musical instruments, carefully-crafted stone rods up to a metre (3.2 feet) in length, have been in the museum' s collection since the early 20th century. They have been dated to between 2500 and 8000 BC, a period known as the New Stone Age, characterised by human use of stone tools, pottery-making, the rise of farming and animal domestication.

For decades, their solid, oblong shape made experts believe they were pestles or grinders of grain. But that perception changed a decade ago, thanks to a stroke of luck. Gonthier, a former jeweller and stone-cutter, discovered their true, musical nature when he tapped one of the stones with a mallet in the storeroom of the Natural History Museum in Paris in 1994.

 Instead of a dull thud he heard musical potential, and decided to investigate further. "I thought back to my grandmother's piano and the small supports which made the strings resonate. I found some packaging foam in the trashcans of the museum I made two rests that I placed under either end of the lithophone, and tapped it. It made a clear 'tinnnnggg," Gonthier recounted. "My heart beat like crazy. I knew that I had found something great."... Five years after his discovery...dozens of other stones in the museum' s collection were officially recognised as lithophones, a known if obscure category of ancient musical instruments...

The museum' s lithophones are mainly from the Sahara desert, many brought back by French troops stationed in colonies like Algeria and Sudan in the early 1900s. Lithophones can be made from different types of sandstone or schist...  ...Every musical instrument has two sound "planes" that can be found by tapping at 90 degree angles around its circumference. ...the musical instruments can be carried easily in one hand ..., they were in essence man's first MP3s ...The mallets may have had heads of wood or bone, although none has ever been found...They may also have been used to signal danger, "or even to call people to dinner and they can be heard from kilometres (miles) away in the desert or forest.

One thing is clear: "They were made to last -- the proof is that we still have them today."

Copyright © 2014 AFP. All rights reserved.

How to make a stone xylophone or lithophone with stones:

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ancestor: a person, plant, animal or object that is related to one existing at a later point in time (adjective form: ancestral) - บรรพบุรุษ

ancient: very old - ที่เก่าแก่ ที่โบราณ

avoid: to stay away from a place; to try to prevent something from happening - หลีกเลี่ยง

bone: the hard inner structure of the body - กระดูก

category: a group of people or things that have similar qualities - หมวดหมู่ ประเภท

cave: a large hole in the side of a hill or under the ground - ถ้ำ

chime: a ringing sound, especially one that is made by a bell - เสียงระฆัง

circumference: the outside edge or boundary of something - เส้นรอบวง

collection: a group of objects, often of the same sort, that have been collected (gathered together over period of time) - สิ่งของที่รวบรวมไว้, การสะสม การเก็บรวบรวม

comeback: a period when someone or something becomes successful or popular again - การกลับมา(ดัง) อีกครั้ง

crafted: done with great skill - ประดิษฐ์โดยใช้ฝีมือ

decades: periods of ten years - เป็นสิบๆปี

desert: a large area of land with few plants and little water and where the weather is always dry - ทะเลทราย

discover: to find somebody/something, or learning about something that was not known about before - ค้นพบ

discovery: an act or the process of finding somebody/something, or learning about something that was not known about before - การค้นพบ

domestication: (of wild animals) used to living with or working for humans - เชื่อง

dozen: a group of twelve of the same thing - หนึ่งโหล

essence: the most important part of something, usually the part that gives it its general character - แก่น

foam: a soft light material, full of small holes, that is used for containers, seats, etc. - ฟอง

grain: the small hard seeds of food plants such as wheat, rice, etc; a single seed of such a plant - เมล็ดข้าว, เมล็ดพืช

highlight: to make something more noticeable - เน้น,ทำให้เด่น

historian: a person who studies or writes about history; an expert in history - นักประวัติศาสตร์, ผู้เชี่ยวชาญเกี่ยวกับประวัติศาสตร์

investigate: to try to find out the facts about something in order to learn the truth about it - ตรวจสอบหาความจริง

jeweller: a person who owns a jewellery store and sells jewellery -

litho: made of stone -

mallet: the wooden sticks used to hit the bars of a xylophone - เครื่องมือที่มีลักษณะเหมือนฆ้อน

museum: a building where objects of historical, scientific or artistic interest are kept - พิพิธภัณฑ์

nature: the basic quality of something - ธรรมชาติของสิ่งต่างๆ

officially: publicly and by somebody who is in a position of authority - อย่างเป็นทางการ

overshadow: to cause someone or something to seem less important or less happy - ทำให้ลดความสำคัญลง

packaging: materials used to wrap or protect goods that are sold in shops/stores - วัสดุที่ใช่ห่อหุ้มหรือป้องกันสินค้า

paleo: old or ancient, especially relating to the geological past -

perception: a particular way of understanding or thinking about something - ความเข้าใจ

potential: possible in the future - ที่อาจเป็นไปได้

prehistoric: before preceding written history, very early, ancient - ก่อนประวัติศาสตร์, ดึกดำบรรพ์, โบราณกาล, สมัยก่อนประวัติศาสตร์

proof: information, documents, etc. that show that something is true - การพิสูจน์

prowess: great skill at doing something - ความสามารถยอดเยี่ยม

recognised: well known - เป็นที่รู้จักกันดี

recount: to describe how something happened; to tell a story - เล่า, บรรยาย

resonate: make a sound that is heard by other people -

shape: the form of the outer edges or surfaces of something - รูปร่าง, รูปทรง, โครงร่าง

signal: to be a sign that something exists or is likely to happen - ส่งสัญญาณ

specialist: a person who is an expert in a particular area of work or study - ผู้ชำนาญเฉพาะทาง

station: to cause, especially soldiers, to be in a particular place to do a job - ตั้งฐานปฎิบัติการ,ตั้งประจำ

storeroom: a room where things are kept - ห้องเก็บของ

tap: to hit somebody/something quickly and lightly - แตะเบาๆ เคาะ

thud: a sound like the one which is made when a heavy object hits something else - เสียงดังตุ้บ

troops: soldiers, especially in large numbers - กองทหาร

unique: very special, unusual or good - ที่มีลักษณะพิเศษ  เป็นเอกลักษณ์

wear and tear: the damage to objects, furniture, property, etc. that is the result of normal use - ความเสียหายเนื่องจากใช้มาเป็นเวลานาน,

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