Great Stalacpipe Organ, USA
This is a bizarre musical instrument. It was dreamt up and painstakingly constructed by Leland Sprinkle, a mathematician and electronic engineer in the 1950s. Rocks that ring have been used as musical instruments for thousands of years. But this is the only lithophone I know of based on stalactites.
It’s claimed to be ‘the largest natural musical instrument in the world’, generating a beautiful, ghostly and disorientating sound. The cave acoustics make it difficult to locate where the sounds are
coming from. 37 stalactites produce the different notes of a musical scale. But the tuning isn’t entirely natural, as some sanding of the natural formations was needed to get the notes exactly in tune. Small rubber hammers strike the stalactites; these are electronically controlled by an organ keyboard.
Locations and logistics
Please don’t be tempted to tap cave formations to see if they ring – stalactites and other geological cave features take thousands of years to form. Luray Cavern’s website with opening hours etc.