I’m going to let you start off with whatever bad rock puns you can think of. (Rolling Stones, rock music, uh whatever.) Done? Great! Okay, now let’s talk about the mysterious ringing rocks of Montana – and how you can grab some free sounds to use in your music right now, just in case you can’t make it out to the great American west at the moment.

Richard Devine, that lover of sound design who seems to be in all places in the sound nerd universe at once, has been out grabbing sounds of this natural marvel for us.

And they are really, really crazy. Like, you hit these rocks with a hammer, and instead of hearing the sound of – well, a rock hit with a hammer, as you’d expect – you get clanging, sonorous percussion that sounds like metal.

Geologists have written tomes on these things, which exist in a few rare corners of the world (also Bucks County, PA and Western Australia, for some reason).

But the Montana rocks are especially strange. Whereas some ringing rocks can be hauled off and (of course) turned into percussion instruments, the ones in Montana only ring when they’re left in the pile. (Take only field recordings, leave only footprints, evidently.) So this particular geologic formation rings partly because of the rocks themselves, but also because of the arrangement in which natural processes have left them.

You’ll find various articles about them; here’s one from the wonderful Atlas Obscura, which is a great site to go looking for weird places generally:
Ringing Rocks of Montana

Anyway, Richard has been kind enough to share some sounds. All of this actually makes me wish there were a more tight-knit community of sound lovers, actually, than what’s available on bit sites or even freesound and the like. Any suggestions of how we could create one, that’d be welcome. For instance, maybe we could have a SoundCloud Grou– uh, never mind. Something.

Rich took his Sony PCM-D100 and recorded at 24bit-96khz.

And the music he’s created is absolutely magical:

You can download that from SoundCloud, and also slice audio out of the individual hits (which follow this enchanting wave of music).

Or, you can download a Kontakt sampler kit:

Ringing Rock samples [Dropbox]

Fabulous. Anyone else found interesting samples of rocks – or nature, generally? Sound off in comments.

  • Kuhli Loach

    Sounds cool! Will the Kontakt set work in the free Player version?

  • wndfrm

    man that guy works fast! that was recorded just last sunday, during the DAT music conference.

    • ja

      How much time does one need to set samples in order? Probably not too much!

      • vanceg

        I was just thinking the same thing Wndfrm – I don’t think that even if I had chosen to go with R.D. on this trip instead of rafting down the river, that I could have possibly turned these samples around in just a few days. As always, Respect to Richard. All I got was a sunburn that day 😉

        • wndfrm

          haha, a well earned sunburn vance!

      • wndfrm

        well, technically not that much time, but it certainly takes me longer to get around to it, make a track, and start sharing!! hehe. (ie never.. sigh..)

  • Cool stuff!

  • Peter Eisenhauer

    I love these sounds. Loaded some of them into Logic sampler and built a track: