I have been fascinated with this instrument since encountering the 56-bell carillon in the Plummer Building of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN . Listening to it while I was there, I knew I wanted to try to write something for it at some point, but it simply wasn’t an option then, given the circumstances of the visit. I would still like to write something for it, but it will take a bit more study to get a feel for it since each bell of a carillon when struck produces five notes (the fundamental, and distinct partials for an octave below and above it as well as a perfect fifth and a minor third above the fundamental) which don’t share the same decay rate (i.e., parts of the note will last longer than other parts). So that has to be taken into consideration when writing for or performing something on it. For instance, if a passage is written for too great a dynamic and tempo, strong partials from previous notes won’t have finished by the time two or three new notes (plus their own new partials) have been struck, resulting in an accumulation of distracting lingering tones that obscure the distinction of the intended notes as well as blurring or altogether eroding the harmonic intent. Plus you have to take into consideration the fact that every single note you strike on a carillon is going to sound its own minor triad, so you have to be especially careful about writing any actual chord structures into a piece since these autotriads will essentually guarantee that you won’t end up with the harmonic structure you’re aiming at—unless, of course, you manage to create it through the creative use of those partials themselves. Thus, more study. I was a little worried after returning home that even if I managed to write something for it eventually, it might prove difficult to hear or have it performed, as there are only approximately 600 of these instruments in the world, and few of those have a large or full array of bells (the instrument ranges from 23 to 77 bells), but it turns out that a college in my home state also has a fifty-six bell carillon (Berea college, KY ), so perhaps it will be easier than I first thought. Now, if only I could find the time to tackle the project. 8 years ago
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