MusicThe Arts

Ammar Khammash Creates Xylophone from Desert Flint Stones

The vast area of the desert hits us with deafening silence. However, if you strain your ears enough, you can hear a melody rise up from right underneath your steps. For Jordanian artist Ammar Khammash, he found music resounding from the flint stones of eastern Badia of Jordan. Khammash, founder of Khammash Architects, writes in the Jordan Times that driving through the desert, the tires crunching on the flint, is

“like a continuous keyboard of a strange musical instrument”.

Secret Sounds of the Desert by Ammar Khammash
Secret Sounds of the Desert by Ammar Khammash

And that is how he created his own musical instrument made entirely of flints found in the desert. These stones were meticulously organized to create a huge xylophone composed of untouched, unmanipulated stones. Each stone carries its own note, unique to it.

These stones are found in the geological formation of the Cretaceous period in the desert. They produce musical notes to precision: so perfectly, in fact, that the instrument plays stunningly tuneful music.

“A drive to Qasr Tuba is a good sample of Jordan’s flint desert. Unlike basalt or sand, flint sends a ring while the tires of your car make their way –the slowly turning wheels play endless flint lengths, each ring differently, making the whole desert sound like a continuous keyboard of a strange musical instrument.”

Only an extremely creative artist could make such a discovery. Irish artist, Trish Edelstein, introduces Ancient Landscape: The landscape Paintings of Ammar Khammash by saying that,

“Ammar Khammash is considered one of the more prominent artists to come out of the Middle East in the 21st century.”

Khammash’s installation, Secret Sounds of the Desert, was a part of Amman’s Design Week and was open to the public in the city’s downtown area.

He expressed his discovery on Facebook asking,

“Are there one thousand dismantled pianos scattered for miles? An eternal melody in this remote land.”

Music is more than instruments strummed to make harmonious sounds, it is nature providing us with the most beautiful of melodies.

Don’t forget to leave a smile 🙂


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Israa Elkhatib

I was born in Palestine but raised with the fireflies in Georgia. My teenage years were spent being the Muslim nerd who was known as the bookworm of the school. That followed me back to Palestine, to develop into being the girl with the big vocabulary. I spent most of my high-school days cursing Newton for not eating that apple. My English Literature Bachelor's degree was only obtained because I'm a nerd for literature and my minor in Translation pretty much pays the bills, thank you Birzeit University.Creative writing is my passion and reading is my escape from reality into a world where everything is the way you imagine it to be.

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