Patterns in the Sand

Check out this demonstration of Chaldni plates! The demonstrator changes the frequency by changing the position of the bow and his finger at the edge. For every frequency a different sand pattern arises according to the vibration pattern of the plate. Where there are few vibrations, called nodes, the sand settles, and where there areContinue reading “Patterns in the Sand”

What Should the Carillon Play? Part II

In a recent post, I discussed repertoire for the carillon. So maybe the question us carillon performers should be asking ourselves when determining what to play is—what sounds good on the bells? I’m going to leave aside the thoughts of past carillonneurs and focus on two issues that arise today. Carillonneurs often bring up theContinue reading “What Should the Carillon Play? Part II”

Jacob Van Eyck and the Hemony Brothers

It’s hard to underestimate the standing of the Hemony brothers—Pierre and François Hemony—in the carillon world. With the likely help of Jacob Van Eyck, they were the first European bell founders to effectively tune the lower five partials in bells. Before them, an instrument of well-tuned bells was a dream that many strived for butContinue reading “Jacob Van Eyck and the Hemony Brothers”

Jacob Van Eyck

Today’s account comes courtesy to us from Luc Rombot’s masterful Singing Bronze: A History of Carillon Music.* I highly recommend his book for any reader interested in the history of bells. It’s a recent publication, so you can still easily purchase it online! We’ve seen the five lowest overtones in a bell that are tunedContinue reading “Jacob Van Eyck”

The Wedding Bells of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Part II

So what’s the solution to our tuning problem introduced in my last blog post? On the one hand, if we tune the five lowest partials in all the bells to perfect equal temperament tuning, we will avoid beats (an unpleasant effect resulting from tones very close together in frequency sounding simultaneously) when different bells ringContinue reading “The Wedding Bells of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Part II”

The Wedding Bells of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Part I

Remember those countless years ago when the bells of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London pealed out for Prince Charles’ and Princess Diana’s wedding? I sure don’t; I was a toddler. My mom says she watched it, though, so I might have caught some glimpses of it. You can hear the full range of the twelveContinue reading “The Wedding Bells of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Part I”

The Bell Grooves

Courtesy of the Church of the Transfiguration in Orleans, MA, we have a marvelous picture of the inside of several super shiny bells. Now why would there be those grooves inside the bell? To tune them, of course! Remember the five lowest partials in a bell? The bell founders tune those partials by shaving offContinue reading “The Bell Grooves”

The Note that Wasn’t There, Part II

It turns out I need to do some correcting with my blog post about the bell’s strike note. A commenter (thanks BDF!) asked if other musical instruments besides bells had a similar phantom-like note, and that prompted me to find this surprising tidbit. When we hear musical sounds that conform to the natural harmonic series,Continue reading “The Note that Wasn’t There, Part II”

The Note that Wasn’t There

I hope I did not lead you astray with my explanation about the Liberty Bell’s tuning using terms like overtone and partial. My apologies, dear reader. I give you a description of bell tuning below for the uninitiated, and I reveal the mystery of all mysteries at the end! Bells are tuned unlike any otherContinue reading “The Note that Wasn’t There”

Proclaiming Liberty, part III

So…what does the Liberty Bell SOUND like? Thanks to a research team of grad students at Pennsylvania State University, we’ve got an educated guess! Hmm. That’s an interesting sound, isn’t it? Kind of crunchy. A neutral observer would say that it doesn’t follow the typical profile of partials in bells. Others may put it anotherContinue reading “Proclaiming Liberty, part III”