The Gobustan National Park is an otherworldly place.
More than four hundred mud volcanoes are found within the area – half of all mud volcanoes in the world. Additionally, there are bizarre rock formations, burning gas vents, prehistoric petroglyphs – and the large musical stone, called Gaval Dash (Qavaldaş).
Two meters long, the stone resonates a tambourine-like sound when it is “played” by hitting it with smaller stones. It is assumed to have been used since ancient times to play ritual melodies, used for the archaic Yallı chain-dance, which is portrayed at some of the petroglyphs at Gobustan – and which is still performed in Azerbaijan to this day. Other rocks in the Gobustan area have proven to have similar capabilities, which are thought to be the result of a combination of the unique climate and the effect of the natural gas within the region.
A number of Azeri musicians have used the hypnotic sound of the rock to create pieces of music, partly in combination with other instruments, or chanting. The musical stone and the Yallı chain-dance also featured in the interval act of the semi-final of the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest in Baku.