"Stones" is a prevalent and well-known song that appears throughout the Ultima series.
In the games, the song is quite popular in Britannia and a favorite of Lord British. Iolo FitzOwen, a renowned bard and close friend of the king, composed the music; his wife Gwenno wrote the lyrics. In reality, the song was written by David R. Watson and Kathleen Jones, the real world counterparts of Iolo and Gwenno.
Long ago ran the sun on a folk who had a dream
And the heart and the will and the power:
Now men asked who they were, how they built and wonder why
Oh what secrets we could tell if you'd listen and be still.
Still we loom in the mists as the ages roll away
In Ultima V, "Stones" played a pivotal role in the course of the Avatar's quest to restore Lord British to power. The song had to be physically performed on Lord British's harpsichord in order to obtain the king's Sandalwood Box, a vastly crucial item in securing the king's return. The court composer, Lord Kenneth, was able to teach the hero how to play the harpsichord, if asked. Tim, the bard in residence at Empath Abbey, could also furnish the Avatar with rumors regarding miraculous occurrences linked to the song when played upon a kingly instrument. The actual musical notation for the song could be found in The Book of Lore.
In Ultima VI, it was necessary for the Avatar to join the Artisan's Guild of Minoc before the guildmaster, Selganor, would lend the Rune of Sacrifice. In order to do this, the hero had to perform "Stones" on a set of custom panpipes, which could be commissioned from Julia. Gwenno was able to provide the Avatar with the correct numerical notation for the song, which was 6789878767653.
In Ultima IX, the Avatar was required again to perform on the royal harpsichord—on this occasion in order to acquire the Ankh of Spirituality. The court musician at the time, Siona, was able to give the hero the sheet music necessary to play the tune once more.
Versions of "Stones" have appeared in the in-game music for Ultima V, Ultima VI, Ultima VII, Ultima VII Part Two, and Ultima IX. Outside the core series, "Stones" has also appeared in Runes of Virtue and Ultima Online.
Ultima IX provided two notably unconventional adaptions of "Stones": a contemporary rock version arranged and performed on electric guitar by Raph "Designer Dragon" Koster that can be heard on the Avatar's radio on Earth, and an electronica version co-written by lead designer Seth Mendelson that accompanies the ending credits of the game.
Two other variations were written for the canceled Ultima Online 2: a traditional composition written by George Oldziey and reminiscent of his Ultima IX arrangement, and an industrial version by Curse Mackey meant to illustrate the environment of the steampunk Juuka homeland. These were later reused for the Ultima Online expansion, Lord Blackthorn's Revenge.
|“|| Without question, the best known name in folk music is that of Iolo FitzOwen. "Stones," a ballad about the mystic shrines, has long been popular among bards and the commonfolk. It is known to be a favorite of His Majesty, Lord British, as well. FitzOwen's masterwork, with lyrics by his wife Gwenllian Gwalch'gaeaf, is a sample of fine music.|
|“|| As a child, I remember hearing the song 'Stones' and associating that with Lord British. My mother would tell me it was his favorite song, and that he would play it on his harpsichord in his room for hours. I even read in my books on the Avatar that the song was used to open a secret door that revealed Lord British's sandalwood box! I learned the song from a bowyer near Britain named Iolo, who said it was a favorite of his, too, and I've loved to play it ever since.
- "Stones" was written by David Watson and Kathleen Jones upon the newlyweds' return from their honeymoon. Watson's melody for the song came about serendipitously as he was restringing his lute, upon which Jones then provided accompanying lyrics.
- In each rendition of "Stones" from Ultima VII onward, the final verse of the original composition is omitted.
- In Ultima VII Part Two, selecting "Stones" on the music box at the Inn of the Sleeping Bull will draw a sentimental reaction from Iolo, before causing Shamino to contrarily moan, "Not Stones again..."
- David Watson performs and discusses "Stones"
- The Stones Archive, hosting variations of the song for download.
- Ultima VI OST - Stones: A high quality version of the song as it appeared in Ultima VI
- : The original MIDI of the song as it appeared in Ultima VII (click on file name on page to start music).
- Lord Kenneth. Underworld Dragon's Ultima V Transcript. Ultima V. "composer, court".
- Tim. Underworld Dragon's Ultima V Transcript. Ultima V. "bard, favorite, fine, Iolo, instrument, magic, occurrence, piece, teach".
- Garriott, Richard et al. The Book of Lore (Ultima V). Origin Systems: 1988. Page 22.
- Selganor. Underworld Dragon's Ultima VI Transcript. Ultima VI. "artisan, guild, join, loan, member, rune".
- Julia. Underworld Dragon's Ultima VI Transcript. Ultima VI. "board, pan, pipes, yew".
- Gwenno. Underworld Dragon's Ultima VI Transcript. Ultima VI. "pan, pipes, stones".
- Siona. Quill Dragon's Ultima IX Transcript. Ultima IX.
- Portalarium. "Iolo and Lord British!". YouTube. March 9, 2013. Retrieved 2013-03-11.