Laurance Hearne Armour Memorial Carillon, Part II

Exciting news over here! I’ve got more info on the bells of Grace Episcopal Church of Chicago! You may recall in my first post on these bells that these formed a chime for the church in the early twentieth century and later formed the basis of the carillon at the Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, then laterContinue reading “Laurance Hearne Armour Memorial Carillon, Part II”

A Rattling Pomegranate

Have you ever gently shaken a dried pomegranate? Probably not, but if you did, you would hear a soft rattling from the small dried membranes of juice hitting each other and the outer peel. The pomegranate, it turns out, was an inspiration for bells in Antiquity.* The pomegranate tree originated in the region of ancientContinue reading “A Rattling Pomegranate”

Mozart Visited a Carillon and He Wrote Nothing for it

In the carillon world we divide our music into categories, one of them being music by “real composers.” Demeaning to all the fine folks who compose carillon music, unfortunately. We’ve used this term to denote music written by those who primarily write music for other instruments and have significant recognition outside the carillon world: JohnContinue reading “Mozart Visited a Carillon and He Wrote Nothing for it”

“The Bell” by Hans Christian Andersen

In Hans Christian Andersen’s short story, “The Bell,” its characters walk through a deep woods to find a mysterious solitary bell. In short, the plot goes something like this: a bell is heard off in the distance from a town, a bell which no one can identify. Various people attempt to locate the bell thatContinue reading ““The Bell” by Hans Christian Andersen”

Oil, Meat, and Plumbing Fixtures

What do the industries of oil, meatpacking, and brass fixture manufacturing all have in common? All three had American heirs that donated money to cast a carillon. Not only that, but these three resultant carillons are in Chicago. It dawned on me this morning that the three carillons in Chicago dating from before the 1950sContinue reading “Oil, Meat, and Plumbing Fixtures”

The Lost Columbian Exposition Bell

I have a special interest in Chicago’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, since I live in the neighborhood of its location. You may know about the exposition from the popular book by Erik Larson, Devil in the White City, the tale based on the serial murderer who operated a hotel nearby. What’s intriguing to me aboutContinue reading “The Lost Columbian Exposition Bell”

Roland the Alarm Bell

In my last post I mentioned that the largest bell in the municipal belfry of Ghent, Belgium—called Roland—signaled the beginning of the Brabant Revolution with its tolling in 1789. The role of Roland as an alarm bell for the liberty of all of Flanders actually dates back much earlier—to 1537.* At that time, present-day BelgiumContinue reading “Roland the Alarm Bell”

A Cannon Can’t Hurt Me

My business card has this picture on the back of it. Yup, that’s my hand sticking through a hole in a large bell. So what’s the story behind it? Well… This bell, called the second Triumphant, is part of the carillon in the municipal belfry of Ghent, Belgium.* With its two other companions, the threeContinue reading “A Cannon Can’t Hurt Me”

Auricular Beliefs

I’ve been revisiting some of the cultural theory that I consulted for my dissertation years ago (I know that sounds ominous; the rest of this post won’t be dense and dry, I promise). I’ve been interested in how to advocate for bell instruments for the future without falling into the audiovisual litany as described byContinue reading “Auricular Beliefs”

Bells Across the Land 2015

On April 9th, 1865, General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant in Appomattox, Virginia, symbolically ending the Civil War. Next week, exactly 150 years later, bells will ring out across the United States at 3:00 EDT to commemorate the end of this war. The National Park Service is leading the effort inContinue reading “Bells Across the Land 2015”