New electronic musical instrument created from pebbles and sticks

Created by Italian designers Fabrica, the ‘Stone Pad’ makes its debut


The next time you are on a pebbly beach and want to hear some music, there could be a solution. A bizarre musical instrument – known as the ‘Stone Pad’ – has been created by placing pebbles on top of wooden posts to make a scale of musical notes when they are pressed.


Created by design researchers in Italy, the ‘Stone Pad’ consists of a spiral of wooden posts set at different heights, with stones placed on top of each one. The low placed stones correspond to low notes, ascending to higher notes as the posts gets higher. Pressing the stones down sends signals along electrical wires to a computer that converts the pulses into sounds.

The instrument was developed by Italian design centre Fabrica to be used on an album by a member of its music team, Jhon William Castaño Montoya, a Columbian violinist.

The ideas in Montoya’s album are drawn from the scale used to classify minerals devised by German scientist Friedrich Mohs in 1812. The Mohs scale ranks minerals in order of how well they can scratch others, with diamonds being the hardest. Montoya named his album after this scale and the designers have extended this idea to developing a musical instrument – the ‘Stone Pad’, using rocks as keys.

‘The rising spiral shape is an exotic musical interface, but it still retains a fairly clear visual reference for musicians to play it,’ says designer Ryu Yamamoto.


Click here to watch the stone pad being played.