Bell Glossary

Steel frame designed to mount a swinging ball. A-stands made by previous founders were usually constructed of cast iron; all Verdin A-stands are fabricated of structural steel.

A device of electronic components with or without vacuum tubes used to increase power, voltage, or current of a signal.

A bell rung morning, noon and night as a call to recite the Angelus Prayer to commemorate the Annunciation as follows: three blows, pause, three blows, pause, three blows, pause, then a swinging bell or stationary Doppler effect of approximately 18 to 20 blows.

The rounded part of the clapper containing the largest concentration of mass which strikes the bell at the sound bow level. Balls are usually made spherical or pear-shaped. Some American chimes have bullet shaped clapper balls. Clapper balls are made of various materials, usually steel or bronze. Bronze is preferred (usually manganese bronze) for carillon bells as it produces a “warmer” tone; that is, a tone richer in the lower partials, i.e. less harsh. The ball material should be softer than the bell metal so that repeated blows over many years will wear away the clapper and not the bell.

Special duty pillow-block bearings are utilized with Verdin yokes or in bell restoration of a swinging bell.

One who makes bells, usually of bronze, by the casting technique (pouring molten metal into a mold).

A bronze alloy usually consisting of 80% copper and 20% tin. In large bells the percentage of tin is usually less, 18% to 19%; in smaller bells it is usually higher, 22% to 23%.

Manufactured in various sizes and constructed of spun aluminum.

Wheel mounted on yoke of a swinging bell to facilitate swinging. Bell wheels of wood or cast iron must be replaced with a Verdin rolled channel steel wheel. If the customers have constructed their own wheel, it must have a 2” groove in it; no other wheel can be used.

The shape of a bell

(a) From medieval Latin quadrilionem, which refers to four stationary bells commonly used in France to indicate the time. Three high-pitched bells chime the quarter-hours, while a fourth, deeper toned bell, tolls the hour. (b) A set of 23 or more cast bronze bells arranged in chromatic order and tuned to be capable of concordant harmony. They are normally played from a clavier or wooden keys and pedals but may be played from an ivory keyboard with electric action.

(ENCODE – DECODE) A computerized digital-audio automatic device for carillons. A “Memory Module” using cassette tapes, is activated by a combined digital audio signal to play the actual bells. A scanning device decodes the digital-audio signals stored on the tape to play the instrument. This device will read and play full chords and repetitive notes up to speeds of 34 notes per second. A selector dial permits the number of hymns or selections to be played each playing time from one through eleven selections. Setting the selector dial on zero will provide for continuous play until manually shut off. Hymn or selection playing times are activated by the Verdin standard two circuits, five-minute program clock. The “Memory Module” permits the organist to encode his own performance on the tape. Once the performance or selections have been encoded on the tape, the unit can be set for “decode” to play the selections at the proper time schedule. Properly encoded, the cassette will rewind at the end of the cassette. When the last selection on the tape has been played, the tape will automatically rewind and will be ready for the next automatic playing time.

A term most widely applied to the player of a carillon. Also known as carillonist.

A traditional English practice, beginning in the fifteenth century, where a series of bells is rung in mathematical permutations. The sequence of the changes is based on a “method” which has been previously composed. Ringing is done by pulling ropes that swing the bells in a full circle.

Early English term was chime bells, from cymbals, an Anglicization of the Latin cymbala, a set of bells usually numbering up to 16 (but not more than 22) and hung stationary. They are played melodically (occasionally with simple harmony) either by automatic action from an electric keyboard or from a chime stand of wooden levers or sometimes pedals. If sounded automatically, the chime may be set off by clock action or by controls which permit designated periods of play. To chime refers to the automatic ringing of the bells of the chime. In England it also refers to the ordinary swinging of a church bell in a limited arc (as opposed to the full circle of 360 degrees for bells in change ringing).

A striking agent suspended inside a bell, consisting of a shaft with a solid metal sphere at the end.

The clapper pin is constructed of stainless steel. The purpose of this pin is to hold the clapper into place in the bell. It is also the axle on which a clapper swings.

The clapper spring is mounted inside of the bell that swings. The purpose of the clapper spring is to keep the clapper from resting against the side of the bell after the bell has been struck. If the bell does not have a clapper spring, the clapper might rest against the side of the bell and dampen the sound, or it might bounce and double strike.

A console of wooden levers and pedals, the means of playing the bells of a carillon. Now often called a console.

Medieval Latin for bell. (See MONASTERY BELLS) Klok (Dutch), Glocke (German), cloche (French) (all meaning bell) derived from the Latin. Even our work cloak (bell-shaped) comes from the same root.

(CLAVIER, KEYBOARD)(CARILLON) A frame containing keys and pedals used to play the carillon. Usually, a console has one key (lever) for each bell in the carillon and pedals to duplicate the operation of the heavier bells.

(BELL FOUNDING) The outer part of the bell mold the interior of which forms the exterior shape of the bell. It is usually built up by first covering the false bell (qv) with a thin molding mixture or chamotte, then with a further layer of the regular composition. For large bells, steel reinforced hoops are often included in succeeding layers to help withstand the pressure of the molten metal. For smaller bells, a case flask is then put around the unfinished cope and the remainder of the space filled with molding sand and filled in well.

(BELL FOUNDING) The inner part of the bell mold which forms the interior shape of the bell. Generally, it consists of a brick core covered with a molding mixture (consisting of sand, clay, and loam in proper proportions), and built up to the proper shape with the use of a sweep or strickle board (qv).

(BELL COTE) A housing for a suspended bell in the form of an arched opening in a thick masonry wall. Bell cotes traditionally have been a Spanish architectural practice but nowadays are being incorporated in contemporary structures.

(CARILLON) A spring applied so as to counteract the pull of the clapper in large bells and aid the player by lightening the touch.

Also known as canons or cannons. Six loops at right angles to each other are cast with and to the head of a bell. This has been the method of hanging bells since cast bells first appeared in the Catholic Church. A majority of church bells made today, however, lack crowns and are bolted directly to a beam or headstock. In the British Isles, crown refers to the top of the bell proper and cannon to the loop for suspension.

Slight change in pitch noted when one moves rapidly toward or away from a sound source (or when the latter moves toward or away from the ear). Upon approach, the pitch sounds a little higher; when receding, a little lower.

(a) That portion of a projection-type (trumpet) or horn-loaded tweeter (high-frequency speaker) that contains the magnet, voice coil, diaphragm and coupling chamber. (b) A woofer (low-frequency speaker) is sometimes called a driver. (c) That portion of an audio-frequency or radio-amplifier used to provide grid excitation for the power output stage.

Adjusting of the strike note pitch of each bell to be in proper musical relation to the other bells or a peal, chime, or carillon.

In most swinging bells hung from yokes (qv), the clapper strikes at the lowest side of the bell when the bell swings up and thus is called a falling clapper.

(BELL FOUNDING) A clay bell shape which is built upon the completed core with the use of an outside profile sweep and which serves as the pattern for building up the cope. Lettering or decoration which is to appear in relief on the finished bell is modeled in wax on the false bell so that the impression of the characters may be made in the cope. Once the cope is finished, heat is applied to melt out the wax and the cope may be lifted off and the false bell removed. In some foundries, an aluminum false bell may be used many times. The built up clay false bell may, of course, be used only once.

German for “bell play” or carillon. Often used, however, to denote a chrono-chime or small carillon with moving figures automatically played.

With bells, an exterior striking agent of metal, pivoting from above, which is usually activated mechanically. Tolling hammers (common on early American church bells) are pivoted from below and mounted so as not to interfere with the swinging of the bell.

Top of bell proper and main node of its vibrations. In England, it is known as the crown. (See CROWN)

America’s most famous bell and emblem of liberty, located in Independence Hall, Philadelphia. It was first cast by Whitechapel of London in 1752 but had to be recast twice (by Pass & Stow of Philadelphia) before it could be used. It became immortal when it was used to call an assembly in the State House yard on July 8, 1776, for the reading of the proclamation declaring independence from England. Although its inscription reads PROCLAIM LIBERTY THROUGHOUT ALL THE LAND UNTO ALL THE INHABITANTS THEREOF (Leviticus 25:10), it did not assume its title of Liberty Bell until after 1839. The bell weighs 2,080 lbs. and is one of the earliest bells cast in the United States. It was cracked in 1831 while being tolled for the death of Chief Justice John Marshall.

(BELL FOUNDING) The mold consists of two parts, the core and cope, which, when clamped together in perfect register, enclose a space into which the metal is poured to form the bell.

The small speaker which is built into the equipment cabinet on a carillon or other electronic equipment which allows the operator to check the performance of equipment.

Angelus Bell: Tower bell used as a call to prayer in memory of the visit of the archangel announcing to Mary that she was to be the Mother of Jesus. Its ringing consists of a triple stroke thrice repeated and followed by nine successive strokes (or else an indeterminable number). Dating from the thirteenth century, the Angelus has traditionally been at 6 AM, 12 noon and 6 PM. Also customary in all Catholic Churches. Campana: Large tower bells for general use. Campanella: Smaller suspended bell in the cloister. Codon: Handbell for summoning. Corrigiunculum: Rung as summons to flagellation or prescribed penance. Cymbalum: Suspended bell in the cloister (smaller than campanella). Dupla: Clock bell. Noctula: Bell to call sleepers to prayer. Nola: In the choir, rung at the consecration of the elements. Petasius: Suspended bell (sizable) for summoning. Sanctus bell: Altar bell. Signum bell: Tower bell, general-purpose bell for signaling. Among its functions is the ringing of the eight canonical hours: matins, lauds, prime, tierce, sext, nones, vespers and compline. Siquilla: Dinner bell in the  refectory (and elsewhere). Tiniolum: Evening bell rung to signal retirement.

A frequency difference between two tones where the upper tone is exactly twice the frequency of the lower; the difference between two musical tones having the same letter name as in a scale; for instance, C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C, the C’s are one octave apart. The interval between two frequencies has a ratio of 2:1.

A group of different sized bells, usually from two to six, located in a belfry of the Christian church and rung according to the liturgical calendar and on other special occasions. Each bell of the peal swings at its own rate, thus producing an ensemble of disorganized sound. This ringing is referred to as pealing. In the British Isles, peal refers to 5,040 “changes” rung in continuous succession (See CHANGE RINGING) on a “ring” of bells. Seven bells or more permit this number of changes; if the ring contains fewer than seven, a peal will consist of several repetitions of the maximum number of changes possible on that number.

Initial timbre and pitch of a bell upon impact, perhaps resulting from all possible frequencies at their initial amplitude. Its pitch corresponds with that of the fundamental, or prime tone, in a tuned bell. It is not measured separately but is always exactly one octave lower in pitch than the Nominal. It is by this partial that the note of an untuned bell is named.

To cause a bell to sound slowly and at regular intervals of one blow each ten seconds or one blow each five seconds.

Small cylindrical brass bells which are to be used on the interior of a building. These are normally used with both pipe and electronic organs. Organ chimes were built by The Deagan Chime Company (no longer in existence) in twenty-one and twenty-five note ranges.

Large cylindrical brass bells which are usually located in the belfry. The J. C. Deagan Company, Chicago, IL, manufactured the tubular chime bell. These systems were built and installed during the 1920’s and 1930’s. Tower chimes were built primarily in groups of ten, sixteen, eighteen and thirty-two note ranges. The Verdin Company is modernizing these early systems by replacing the Deagan action and controls.

World’s most common chime tune for striking the quarter hours; originated at Cambridge University in 1793 and was known as the Cambridge Quarters until its later association at London’s Westminster Palace (and with “Big Ben”), beginning in 1859, led to its present designation. The tune was devised from a four-note these found in the aria “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth” from the oratorio Messiah by Handel. The notes E, D, C, G are heard a quarter after the hour, followed successively by two phases of eight notes, three of twelve and four of sixteen, all on the same bells in different sequences reminiscent of change ringing. The sequence is as follows: 1st quarter; E, D, C, G: 2nd quarter; C, E, D, G – C, D, E, C: 3rd quarter; E, C, D, G – G, D, E, C – E, D, C, G: 4th quarter (before hour strike); C, E, D, G – C, D, E, C – E, C, D, G – G, D, E, C. Any other group of four bells having the same harmonic relationship may be used, as A, D, E, F#; D, G, A, B, etc. Sometimes the hour is struck upon the lowest of the four bells (G in the example), but it is much better (more musical) to use another bell, which should be either one whole tone or a perfect fifth lower in pitch than the lowest Westminster Chime Bell. (In the 1st example, either F below or C below.) Other chime tunes exist also.

revised 9/1/16