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A Parsifal
Parsifal
bell (German: Parsifal
Parsifal
Klavier Instrument) is a stringed musical instrument designed as a substitute for the church bells that are called for in the score of Richard Wagner's opera Parsifal. [1] The instrument was designed by Felix Mottl, a conductor of Wagner's works, and constructed by Schweisgut, of Karlsruhe, Germany.[1]

Contents

1 Construction 2 Need 3 Earlier Wagnerian church bell substitutes 4 Modern church bell substitutes 5 Notes 6 References 7 External links

Construction[edit] It is constructed on the principle of the grand piano. A massive frame is shaped like a snooker table. The instrument has five notes; each note has six strings (three are tuned to the fundamental pitch, and three an octave higher). The strings are struck by large hammers, covered with cotton-wool, which the performer sets in motion by a strong elastic blow from his or her fist,[2] similar to the motion of playing a carillon. The hammers are attached to arms 22 inches (56 cm) long, which are screwed to a strong wooden span bridge placed horizontally above the strings at about two-fifths of the length from the front. On the point of the arm is the name of the note, and behind this the felt ledge struck by the fist. Two belly bridges and two wrest-plank bridges, one set for each octave, determine the vibrating length of the strings, and the belly bridge, as in other stringed instruments, is the medium through which the vibrations of the strings are communicated to the soundboard. The arrangement of pegs and wrest-pins is much the same as on the piano.[3] Need[edit] Difficulties arise whenever a composer writes a piece for orchestra in which he calls for reproducing the effect of church bells. Well-known examples include 1812 Overture, The Golden Legend, Cavalleria Rusticana, Pagliacci, Rienzi, and Parsifal. The most serious difficulty of all arose in Parsifal, where the bells are called for in an extremely solemn scene with deep religious significance. If real church bells were used for the notes Wagner wrote, they would overpower the orchestra and ruin the solemn atmosphere on the stage.[3] Earlier Wagnerian church bell substitutes[edit] Various substitutes for bells were tried in vain, but no other instrument gave a tone similar to that of church bells. This is because a bell sound consists of rich harmonics composing the clang, plus two distinct simultaneous notes, first the tap tone, which gives the pitch, and the hum tone or lower accompanying note. The dignity and beauty of the bell tone depend on the interval separating the hum from the tap tone.[3] A stringed instrument, similar to the Parsifal
Parsifal
bell but having only four notes, was used at Bayreuth
Bayreuth
for the first performance of Parsifal in 1882, where it was combined with tam-tams or gongs in an attempt to replicate the sound of a church bell. The instrument was built by the Bayreuth-based pianoforte manufacturer Steingraeber & Söhne. After many trials the following combination was adopted as the best makeshift:[3]

the stringed instrument with four keys; four tam-tams or gongs tuned to the pitch of the four notes composing the chime; a tuba, which plays the notes staccato in quavers to help make them more distinct; a fifth tam-tam, on which a roll is executed with a drumstick.

Modern church bell substitutes[edit] In most orchestral music, tubular bells are used when a bell sound is called for.[citation needed] In another special case, a special peal of hemispherical bells was constructed for use in performances of Sir Arthur Sullivan's cantata, The Golden Legend. Struck with mallets, they produced both tap and hum tone.[3] But Parsifal
Parsifal
presented a particular problem because the lowest of the Golden Legend bells was a minor tenth higher than the lowest note required for Parsifal, and the aggregate weight of the four bells was thousands of pounds.[citation needed] Modern productions of Parsifal
Parsifal
typically use a synthesized, or electronically recorded, church bell sound.[citation needed] Notes[edit]

^ a b Schlesinger 1911, p. 867. ^ Schlesinger 1911, pp. 867–868. ^ a b c d e Schlesinger 1911, p. 868.

References[edit]

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Schlesinger, Kathleen (1911). "Parsifal bell-instrument". In Chisholm, Hugh. Encyclopædia Britannica. 20 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 867–868. 

External links[edit]

Parsifal
Parsifal
bell article at the Parsifal
Parsifal
Home Page

v t e

Richard Wagner's Parsifal

Characters

Parsifal Gurnemanz

Films

Parsifal
Parsifal
(1904) The Evil Forest (1951) Parsifal
Parsifal
(1982)

Sources

Parzival Perceval, the Story of the Grail

Related

Parsifal
Parsifal
bell Parsifal
Parsifal
discography Dresden amen Die Sieger

v t e

Richard Wagner

Operas

Die Feen Das Liebesverbot Rienzi Der fliegende Holländer Tannhäuser Lohengrin Tristan und Isolde Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg Der Ring des Nibelungen

Das Rheingold Die Walküre Siegfried Götterdämmerung

Parsifal

Unfinished operas

Die Laune des Verliebten Die Hochzeit Männerlist größer als Frauenlist

Opera excerpts

"Bridal Chorus" "Ride of the Valkyries"

Discographies

Der fliegende Holländer Tannhäuser Lohengrin Tristan und Isolde Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg Der Ring des Nibelungen

Das Rheingold Die Walküre Siegfried Götterdämmerung

Parsifal

Film adaptations

Parsifal
Parsifal
(1904 film) Parsifal
Parsifal
(1982 film)

Non-operatic music

Symphony in C major (1832) Polonia Overture (1836) Das Liebesmahl der Apostel (1843) Faust Overture (1844, rev. 1855) Wesendonck Lieder
Wesendonck Lieder
(1858) Siegfried Idyll (1870) Kaisermarsch

Writings

Art and Revolution The Artwork of the Future Autobiographic Sketch A Communication to My Friends Das Judenthum in der Musik
Das Judenthum in der Musik
(Jewishness in Music) Leubald Mein Leben Music of the Future Opera and Drama Die Sieger Wieland der Schmied

Inventions

Holztrompete Wagner tuba

Bayreuth
Bayreuth
Festival

Bayreuther Blätter Bayreuth
Bayreuth
canon Bayreuth
Bayreuth
Circle Bayreuth
Bayreuth
Festival Bayreuth
Bayreuth
Festspielhaus Jahrhundertring Richard Wagner
Richard Wagner
Foundation

Wagner family

Houston Stewart Chamberlain Ludwig Geyer Cosima Wagner Katharina Wagner Minna Wagner Nike Wagner Siegfried Wagner Wieland Wagner Winifred Wagner Wolfgang Wagner Eva Wagner-Pasquier

People

Hans von Bülow Franz Liszt Ludwig II of Bavaria Giacomo Meyerbeer Friedrich Nietzsche Ferdinand Praeger Carrie Pringle August Röckel Gottfried Semper Theodor Uhlig Mathilde Wesendonck

Residences

Brühl (Leipzig) Ca' Vendramin Calergi Tribschen Wahnfried

Named for Wagner

Richard Wagner
Richard Wagner
Monument Wagner (crater) Wagner Ice Piedmont 3992 Wagner

Cultural depictions

Wagner Dream (opera) Wagner (film) Wagner's Dream (film) Wahnfried
Wahnfried
(film)

Related

The Case of Wagner Gesamtkunstwerk International Association of Wagner Societies Leitmotif List of films using the music of Richard Wagner Musikdrama Nietzsche contra Wagner Parsifal
Parsifal
bells The Perfect Wagnerite Rhinemaidens Tristan chord Wagner controversies Wagner-Werk-Verzeichnis

Book Category

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