A BELL is a directly struck idiophone percussion instrument . Most bells have the shape of a hollow cup that when struck vibrates in a single strong strike tone , with its sides forming an efficient resonator . The strike may be made by an internal "clapper" or "uvula", an external hammer, or—in small bells—by a small loose sphere enclosed within the body of the bell.
Bells are usually cast from bell metal (a type of bronze ) for its resonant properties, but can also be made from other hard materials; this depends on the function. Some small bells such as ornamental bells or cow bells can be made from cast or pressed metal, glass or ceramic, but large bells such as church, clock and tower bells are normally cast from bell metal.
Bells intended to be heard over a wide area can range from a single bell hung in a turret or bell-gable , to a musical ensemble such as an English ring of bells , a carillon or a Russian zvon which are tuned to a common scale and installed in a bell tower . Many public or institutional buildings house bells, most commonly as clock bells to sound the hours and quarters.
Historically, bells have been associated with religious rituals, and are still used to call communities together for religious services. Later, bells were made to commemorate important events or people and have been associated with the concepts of peace and freedom. The study of bells is called campanology .
* 1 Etymology * 2 History * 3 Styles of ringing
* 4 Church and temple bells
* 5.1 Casting * 5.2 Tuning
* 9 Usage as musical instruments
Bianzhong of Marquis Yi of Zeng
The earliest archaeological evidence of bells dates from the 3rd
millennium BC, and is traced to the
The earliest metal bells, with one found in the
See also Klang Bell (Malaysia, 2 c. BC) of the British Museum collection.
STYLES OF RINGING
Play media Static bells struck by solenoid-operated hammers in a bell-gable. Mechanism of a bell hung for English full-circle ringing. The bell can swing through a full circle in alternate directions. The bells of St Bees Priory shown in the "down" position, in which they are normally left between ringing sessions. The bells of St Bees Priory shown in the "up" position. When being rung they swing through a full circle from mouth upwards round to mouth upwards, and then back again.
In the western world , the common form of bell is a church bell or town bell, which is hung within a tower or bell cote. Such bells are either fixed in a static position ("hung dead") or mounted on a beam (the "headstock") so they can swing to and fro. Bells that are hung dead are normally sounded by hitting the sound bow with a hammer or occasionally by pulling an internal clapper against the bell.
Where a bell is swung it can either be swung over a small arc by a rope and lever or by using a rope on a wheel to swing the bell higher. As the bell swings higher the sound is projected outwards rather than downwards.
Bells hung for full circle ringing are swung through just over a complete circle from mouth uppermost. A STAY (the wooden pole seen sticking up when the bells are down) engages a mechanism to allow the bell to rest just past its balance point. The rope is attached to one side of a wheel so that a different amount of rope is wound on and off as it swings to and fro. The bells are controlled by ringers (one to a bell) in a chamber below, who rotate the bell to through a full circle and back, and control the speed of oscillation when the bell is mouth upwards at the balance-point, when little effort is required.
Swinging bells are sounded by an internal clapper. The clapper may have a longer period of swing than the bell. In this case the bell will catch up with the clapper and if rung to or near full circle will carry the clapper up on the bell's trailing side. Alternatively, the clapper may have a shorter period and catch up with the bell's leading side, travel up with the bell coming to rest on the downhill side. This latter method is used in English style full circle ringing.
Occasionally the clappers have leather pads (called muffles) strapped around them to quieten the bells when practice ringing to avoid annoying the neighbourhood. Also at funerals, half-muffles are often used to give a full open sound on one round, and a muffled sound on the alternate round – a distinctive, mournful effect.
CHURCH AND TEMPLE BELLS
The striking technique is employed worldwide for some of the largest tower-borne bells, because swinging the bells themselves could damage their towers.
Roman Catholic Church
In Russian Orthodox bell ringing , the entire bell never moves, only the clapper. A complex system of ropes is developed and used uniquely for every bell tower. Some ropes (the smaller ones) are played by hand, the bigger ropes are played by foot.
BELLS IN JAPANESE RELIGION
Japanese Shintoist and
BELLS IN BUDDHISM AND HINDUISM
The process of casting bells is called bellfounding , and in Europe dates to the 4th or 5th century. The traditional metal for these bells is a bronze of about 23% tin . Known as bell metal , this alloy is also the traditional alloy for the finest Turkish and Chinese cymbals . Other materials sometimes used for large bells include brass and iron . Steel was tried during the busy church-building period of mid-19th-century England, because it was more economical than bronze, but was found not to be durable and manufacture ceased in the 1870s.
Small bells were originally made with the lost wax process but large bells are cast mouth downwards by filling the air space in a two-part mould with molten metal. Such a mould has an outer section clamped to a base-plate on which an inner core has been constructed.
The core is built on the base-plate using porous materials such as
coke or brick and then covered in loam well mixed with straw and horse
manure. This is given a profile corresponding to the inside shape of
the finished bell, and dried with gentle heat.
The outside of the mould is made within a perforated cast iron case, larger than the finished bell, containing the loam mixture which is shaped, dried and smoothed in the same way as the core. The case is inverted (mouth down), lowered over the core and clamped to the base plate. The clamped mould is supported, usually by being buried in a casting pit to bear the weight of metal and to allow even cooling.
In historical times, before road, rail transport of large bells was possible, a "bell pit" was often dug in the grounds of the building where the bell was to be installed. Molten bell metal is poured into the mould through a box lined with foundry sand . The founder would bring his casting tools to the site, and a furnace would be built next to the pit.
Further information: Strike tone
BELL SHAPE AND TUNING
Spectrum of a
"A bell is divided into the body or barrel, the ear or cannon, and the clapper or tongue. The lip or sound bow is that part where the bell is struck by the clapper." The traditional profile (or shape), hollow cup with wide flaring lip, of a bell is determined by the acoustic properties sought.
According to Fuller-Maitland writing in Grove's dictionary of music and musicians: "Good tone means that a bell must be in tune with itself." A bell is generally considered well-tuned if it corresponds to certain standards regarding its partials and thus proportions. These partials or elements of the sound of a bell are split up into hum (an octave below the named note, see subharmonic ), strike tone (tap note, named note), tierce (minor third), quint (fifth), and nominal (octave). Further notes include the major third and perfect fifth in the second octave. "Whether a founder tunes the nominal or the strike note makes little difference, however, because the nominal is one of the main partials that determines the tuning of the strike note." A heavy clapper brings out lower partials (clappers often being about 3% of a bell's mass), while a higher clapper velocity strengthens higher partials (0.4 m/s being moderate). The relative depth of the "bowl" or "cup" part of the bell also determines the number and strength of the partials in order to achieve a desired timbre.
Bells are generally around 80% copper and 20% tin (bell metal ), with
the tone varying according to material. Tone and pitch is also
affected by the method in which a bell is struck. It will be noticed
that Asian large bells are often bowl shaped but lack the lip and are
often not free-swinging. Also note the special shape of Bianzhong
bells, allowing two tones. The scaling or size of most bells to each
other may be approximated by the equation for circular cylinders:
f=Ch/D2, where h is thickness, D is diameter, and C is a constant
determined by the material and the profile. Previously tuned through
chipping, bells are now tuned after casting with vertical lathes by
paring out the inside to flatten or edge to sharpen, with sharpening
best being avoided. The
On the theory that pieces in major keys may better be accommodated, after many unsatisfactory attempts, in the 1980s, using computer modeling for assistance in design by scientists at the Technical University in Eindhoven, bells with a major-third profile were created by the Eijsbouts Bellfoundry in the Netherlands, being described as resembling old Coke bottles in that they have a bulge around the middle; and in 1999 a design without the bulge was announced. Although bells are cast to accurate patterns, variations in casting mean that a final operation of tuning is undertaken as the shape of the bell is critical in producing the desired strike note and associated harmonics. Tuning is undertaken by clamping the bell on a large rotating table, and using a cutting tool to remove metal. Much experimentation and research has been devoted to determining the exact shape that will give the best tone.
The thickness of a church bell at its thickest part, called the "sound bow", is usually one thirteenth its diameter. If the bell is mounted as cast, it is called a "maiden bell". "Tuned bells" are worked after casting to produce a precise note. The elements of the sound of a bell are split up into hum (see subharmonic ), second partial, tierce, quint and nominal/naming note. The bell's strongest overtones are tuned to be at octave intervals below the nominal note, but other notes also need to be brought into their proper relationship. Bells are usually tuned via tuning forks and electronic stroboscopic tuning devices commonly called strobe tuners .
CLOCKS AND CHIMES
Bells are also associated with clocks , indicating the hour by
ringing. Indeed, the word clock comes from the
In the case of clock towers and grandfather clocks, a particular
sequence of tones may be played to distinguish between the hour,
half-hour, quarter-hour, or other intervals. One common pattern is
Westminster Quarters ," a sixteen-note pattern named after the
Palace of Westminster
Great Bell of Dhammazedi (1484) may have been the largest bell
ever made. It was lost in a river in
USAGE AS MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS
A bell out of bronze with its principal tone at 1133 Hertz
Some bells are used as musical instruments , such as carillons ,
(clock) chimes , agogô , or ensembles of bell-players, called bell
choirs , using hand-held bells of varying tones. A "ring of bells" is
a set of four to twelve or more bells used in change ringing , a
particular method of ringing bells in patterns. A peal in changing
ringing may have bells playing for several hours, playing 5,000 or
more patterns without a break or repetition. They have also been used
in many kinds of popular music , such as in
ANCIENT CHINESE BELLS
The ancient Chinese bronze chime bells called bianzhong or zhong / zeng (鐘) were used as polyphonic musical instruments and some have been dated at between 2000 and 3600 years old. Tuned bells have been created and used for musical performance in many cultures but zhong are unique among all other types of cast bells in several respects and they rank among the highest achievements of Chinese bronze casting technology. However, the remarkable secret of their design and the method of casting—known only to the Chinese in antiquity—was lost in later generations and was not fully rediscovered and understood until the 20th century.
In 1978 a complete ceremonial set of 65 zhong bells was found in a near-perfect state of preservation during the excavation of the tomb of Marquis Yi , ruler of Zeng , one of the Warring States . Their special shape gives them the ability to produce two different musical tones, depending on where they are struck. The interval between these notes on each bell is either a major or minor third , equivalent to a distance of four or five notes on a piano.
The bells of Marquis Yi—which were still fully playable after almost 2500 years—cover a range of slightly less than five octaves but thanks to their dual-tone capability, the set can sound a complete 12-tone scale—predating the development of the European 12-tone system by some 2000 years—and can play melodies in diatonic and pentatonic scales.
Another related ancient Chinese musical instrument is called qing (磬 pinyin qìng) but it was made of stone instead of metal.
In more recent times, the top of bells in
Konguro'o is a small bell which, like the Djalaajyn , was first used for utilitarian purposes and only later for artistic ones. Konguro'o rang when moving to new places. They were fastened to the horse harnesses and created a very specific "smart" sound background. Konguro'o also hung on the neck of the leader goat, which the sheep herd followed. This led to the association in folk memory between the distinctive sound of konguro'o and the nomadic way of life.
To make this instrument, Kyrgyz foremen used copper, bronze, iron and brass. They also decorated it with artistic carving and covered it with silver. Sizes of the instruments might vary within certain limits, what depended on its function. Every bell had its own timbre.
A variant on the bell is the tubular bell . Several of these metal tubes which are struck manually with hammers, form an instrument named tubular bells or chimes. In the case of wind or aeolian chimes, the tubes are blown against one another by the wind.
The skrabalai is a traditional folk instrument in Lithuania which consists of wooden bells of various sizes hanging in several vertical rows with one or two wooden or metal small clappers hanging inside them. It is played with two wooden sticks. When the skrabalai is moved a clapper knocks at the wall of the trough. The pitch of the sound depends on the size of the wooden trough. The instrument developed from wooden cowbells that shepherds would tie to cows' necks.
Whereas the church and temple bells called to mass or religious
service, bells were used on farms for more secular signaling. The
greater farms in
In folk tradition , it is recorded that each church and possibly
several farms had their specific rhymes connected to the sound of the
specific bells. An example is the
In Scotland, up until the 19th century it was the tradition to ring a dead bell , a form of hand bell, at the death of an individual and at the funeral.
BELL STUDY AND RINGING ORGANISATIONS
The following organizations promote the ringing, study, music, collection, preservation and restoration of bells. Nation(s) covered are given in parenthesis.
American Bell Association International (
Mingun Bell weighs 55,555 viss , or 90 tonnes . *
St. Petersglocke (with person for scale). *
St. Ulrich, Memmingen *
Japanese temple bell of the Ryōanji Temple,
A bell in Chang Chun Temple,
Fire Bell, Glendale, Arizona .
The bell as depicted in fine art: This triptych depicts Benkei
carrying the giant bell of
* Animation of English Full-circle ringing
American Bell Association International
* ^ "Bell". Encyclopædia Britannica, 11th Edition. 3. University
Press. 1910. pp. 687–691. Retrieved 2012-02-01.
* ^ A B "bell, n.1",
* Adamson, Archibald (1875). Rambles Round Kilmarnock. Kilmarnock :
* Milham, Willis Isbister. (1944). Time and Timekeepers: Including
the History, Construction, Care, and Accuracy of Clocks and Watches.
New York: Macmillan . OCLC 23271006
* Murdoch , James. (1903). A History of Japan. London: Paul, Trech,
Nipon o daï itsi ran
* Fadul, Jose A. Fadul's Encyclopedia of Bells. 2015. Lulu Press. ISBN 978-131-260-110-9 * Willis, Stephen Charles. Bells through the Ages: from the Percival Price Collection = Les Cloches à travers les siècles: provenant du fonds Percival Price. Ottawa: National Library of Canada, 1986. 34 p., ill. with b some copies come with the guide to the taped dubbings of the recordings played as background music to the displays, as technically prepared by Gilles Saint-Laurent and listed by Stephen Charles Willis, both of the library's Music Division; English and French texts respectively divided into upper and lower portions of each page. ISBN 0-662-54295-9
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