Bell Carillons

A carillon is a musical instrument consisting of at least two octaves of carillon bells arranged in chromatic series and played from a keyboard permitting control of expression through variation of touch.

A carillon bell is a cast bronze cup-shaped bell whose partial tones are in such harmonious relationship to each other as to permit many such bells to be sounded together in varied chords with harmonious and consordant effect.

A carillon is a musical instrument composed of at least twenty-three carillon bells, arranged in chromatic sequence, so tuned as to produce concordant harmony when many bells are sounded together. It is played from a keyboard.

A carillon is a musical instrument of bells played with a keyboard. Each cup-shaped bell is cast in bronze and provides tones to be sounded together in various cords. A carillon consists of at least 23 bells arranged in chromatic sequence. A complex system of external hammers and internal clappers are used to created chords, melodies and harmonies that carry across miles. A musician that plays this instrument is known as a carillonneur. A carillon may also be equipped with technology that allows it to be played electronically. This instrument may not be well known, but its history and sound are rich.

In the 14th century, traditional church bells were rung for many purposes including time keeping, warning or celebration. Interest grew in using bells and chimes to provide more complex notes and melodies. The traditional church bell carillon as we know it today was invented in Belgium at the end of the 15th century, played with a primitive wooden keyboard used beside a chiming cylinder. During the next two hundred years, church bell carillons became a fashionable symbol of pride. Neighboring villages and towns raced to build the largest bells of the highest quality. The 17th century brought advances in tuning and the development of two full octaves, or the 23 bells considered standard minimum since that time. The carillons popularity ebbed and flowed until the late 1800s when its revival gained it appreciation as a concert instrument.

Hand-Played Bell Carillons

An experienced carillonneur uses both hands and feet simultaneously, since the larger bells are sounded by the use of foot pedals. Manual playing of a carillon requires control and dexterity to produce quality acoustical dynamics. Most music played on this instrument is written specifically for a carillon, and it is typically played alone, as the sound of the bells would overpower other orchestral instruments.

With the advent of technology, digital carillons (or electronic bell systems) are also very popular. Digital bell systems are available in several types and can be an affordable alternative to traditionally cast bells. The sound produced from these systems is very lifelike and programmable to your specific needs.

Your carillon project is important to us at McShane Bell Company. We have over a century and a half of experience in the creation of quality long lasting bells. We also have the latest experience in technology and design of electronic bell systems.

Ready to start your custom bell project?

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