Today’s electronic carillons provide an incredible range of bell sounds that rival bronze bells and peals, but are available at a fraction of the cost and are Made in the USA!
History of Carillons
Originally carillons were made of twenty-three bronze bells that were played by a carilloneur on a unique “keyboard” consisting of paddles or batons and foot pedals, rather then keys. These instruments can still be found in New York, Minnesota and the traveling carillon based in Valley Forge, PA. Many more carillons can be found in Europe where they still have master carilloneurs, though they are dwindiling in number as are these enormous instruments. In German, a carillon is called a glockenspiel. In French, carillon means “four bells.”
Modern Carillons Play Hymns, Tolls, Songs and Tributes
Today’s units have evolved into very small and easy to use pieces of equipment similar to other sound equipment or computer apps. They need no large storage space and fit easily on a desk, table or in a closet. Unlike the original instruments, electronic carillons are driven by electronic circuitry and are programmable to play hundreds of arrangements, songs, hymns, tolls, and tributes all at the push of a button.
Carillons are replacing original, heavy cast bronze bells in many churches, universities and institutions as substitutes for renovations to towers and bell ringing equipment. Without having prior knowledge of a carillon installation, most people cannot discern the difference between the sounds of an electronic carillon from those of cast bronze church bells. The only clue is the the wide musical assortment that plays through loudspeakers strategically mounted inside existing bell towers. In most cases, the speakers are not visible to the public.
Ease of Use Created Huge Increases in Popularity
Since many people that consider themselve not very computer-oriented have found electronic carillons to be very easy to use, they have gained in popularity in recent years. Add that to the cost benefits and one can easily understand why carillons are now proudly but discreetly broadcasting the sounds of church bells from bell towers across the country.