A synopsis of bell instruments and their uses.
THE SCOPE OF YOUR BELL PROJECT
- Stationary bells are hung on a beam of a tower or belfry frame and struck with either an external hammer or internal clapper
- Swinging bells are hung from a swiveling yoke that allows the bell to oscillate in its mounts
- A Swinging bell rings louder than a similarly sized stationary bell with a distinctively animated voice
- Swinging bells can be equipped with an auxiliary tolling hammer
There is a lot you can do with one bell. Ring a swinging call that it is time for church. Toll a slow, steady cadence to ring a funeral toll, a prayer bell, or to mark the passing hours.
If your tower is only large enough for one bell, it is important to size it properly. Projects of this scope have an economic advantage in that a single cast bronze church bell only has to be in tune with itself. We call this type of church bell tuning, "consonant tuning," in which the five primary harmonic partials of the bell agree with one another, yet no particular standard (such as A = 440 Hz) is specified. Since this bell does not have to blend with other bells, significant labor is saved in the tuning process and we pass that savings on to you.
In a larger belfry, the first bell you install should be more carefully tuned so that future augmentation results in a well harmonized peal. Not only will the bell be tuned to a pitch standard, but this bell's own harmonic partials should be tuned to an equal temperament if there is room to expand an instrument to carillon dimensions.
If you already have one or more bells, it is important to take their character and tuning into consideration when enlarging your instrument with additional bells. We can come and take readings of your existing bells and provide you with a report of the condition of the mounts and the harmonic character of the bells.
Peal of bells
- Typically three or more bells that make up a pleasant chord
- Many peals are stationary bells tuned for playing the Westminster time melody
- Celebratory peals sound fullest when all bells are fitted for swinging
When rung together Peals create one of the most joyful sounds on earth. On Easter, Christmas and wedding days, the world will know you have reason to celebrate!
Traditional American peals are often a major chord with three or four bells. Four or five bells make a Westminster peal. The most extravagant three-bell peal is tuned to Do-Re-Mi, with a heavy investment in bronze. Five or six bells tuned in a pentatonic scale offer a great variety of sub-peal combinations that can be rung for various occasions, and also some interesting clock chiming compositions.
- Eight or more melodic bells can ring hundreds of songs and hymns.
- The most music can be played on chimes that span at least 1-1/2 octaves with at least two semitones (black keys), typically 14 bells.
- The instrument can be tuned with equal temperament if there is room to expand the instrument to a carillon
- The instrument can be tuned with just intonation for a voice that perfectly resonates and harmonizes
- The Guild of Carillonneurs in North America has defined a carillon to minimally consist of two octaves of chromatic bells except for the first two semitones (C# and Eb) which requires 23 bells
- A traditional Concert Carillon is played with a fully mechanical action from a baton style keyboard with at least 47 bells starting on middle C (about 5,000 lb.)
- A non-traditional carillon is rung electrically. The choice between electric action and fully mechanical actions is made because of architectural or budgetary constraints. Best practices include architectural foresight toward adding a future traditional playing action.