Monday, February 20, 2012

O is for Orchestra Bells

In 1998 at a Benedictine event that we hosted here in Erie, I heard one of the visiting sisters playing a musical instrument that I had never heard before. I was enchanted by the sound. When I asked one of our musicians what it was, she replied, "They're orchestra bells and they are ours." At the time no one in our community was regularly playing them. Soon after, I asked her if I could try them and with her usual encouragement she said, "Yes." A dozen years later I am still "plinking away" at this adornment instrument, as I think of it, adding a light bell sound to many of our hymns.

A sincere thank you to my friend, Marilyn, who encouraged me all those years ago. The sound still amazes me!

We have a number of mallet instruments: here's a xylophone--a set of tuned wooden bars--named from the Greek for "wooden sound."

When the bars are metal the term for the mallet instrument is metallophone. A glockenspiel is a metallophone where the bars can be mounted horizontally or vertically for easy carrying, as in marching bands. This one of ours has light-weight metal bars.

And here is another type of glockenspiel, our orchestra bells. These are quite heavy--though they emit a light, sweet sound.

Click here for a very short YouTube video of how they sound.