The Mysterious Lithophones of Vietnam

Descendants of the First Musical Instruments?

The word ‘lithophone’ is derived from two Greek words, ‘lithos’ and ‘phone’. The first can be translated as ‘stone’, whilst the second means ‘sound’. Therefore, a lithophone may be said to be a ‘sound-making stone’. Today, this word is used to denote a type of musical instrument made of stones. Lithophones have been discovered in different parts of the world, including Vietnam. Researchers have said that lithophones were played between 4,000 and 10,000 years ago.

Generally speaking, a lithophone consists of several stone slabs of varying sizes. As these stones are struck, different tones are produced. Therefore, a lithophone may be considered to be a percussion instrument, and it has often been compared to a xylophone.

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