How long is too long?

Discussions on various technical aspects of carillon instruments and standards.

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Re: How long is too long?

Postby JohnGouwens on Thu Feb 28, 2013 9:56 pm

Frances - that was what I was saying also - add lower bells, connect the lower of those to C, less high-pitched transposition. Remember, the transposition is a function of the console and transmission, not of the bells themselves.

Carbon Fibre - one vendor here told me once the price would be about the same to do steel wire or carbon fibre, though that surprises me. Let me know what you find.
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Re: How long is too long?

Postby FrancesNewell on Thu Feb 28, 2013 10:44 pm

John,
I seem to have a different idea of what the term "transposition" means.
Would you elaborate on how transposition works on the carillon?
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Re: How long is too long?

Postby JohnGouwens on Thu Feb 28, 2013 11:10 pm

OK, a concert pitch carillon is one in which the pitch produced matches the pitch on the piano, so playing, let's say, A above middle c on that carillon produces a prime which is A-440. Many carillons are pitched higher or lower. One of the first postings in this group was from Gideon Bodden, cheering the fact that the Baird Memorial Carillon at the University of Michgan has been restored to its original transposition. Note C on the keyboard sounds an A-flat. The 12-ton bourdon sounds and E-flat, keyed to G. In 1986 or so, that carillon had been renovated and the action re-arranged (new console and all) so that the instrument no longer transposed a major third low, but rather a major second low. That meant simply that the same bells were connected to different keys. The 12-ton bourdon still sounded Eb, but was connected to a low F pedal. C at the keyboard was playing a Bb bell. The same was done at Bok Tower, and that one is still in that state - low Eb is connected to low F, so the whole instrument is transposed down a major second. Many other carillons are pitched higher. Berea College, for instance (where we had the 2003 congress) is pitched up a fourth, so when you play a C, the sound that comes out is an F. It doesn't change how we play it all that much, but the same music can sound a bit trivial if pitched too high. You might ask, why did anybody do that? It was something of a status symbol to have a big, heavy instrument, so many old carillons in prestigious settings were pitched low. Antwerp Cathedral is pitched in A (minor third low), Amsterdam Oude Kerk in Bb (major second low). George Gregory's instrument in San Antonio is pitched in D (whole step high). It happens that the Rumson carillon you know is in concert pitch, and most of the host carillons at congresses you have attended were as well (Longwood Gardens, Naperville, Kirk-in-the-Hills, Clemson), but the University of Chicago, for example, is pitched a major third low. (Another major third low carillon is the historic carillon of Mechelen, Belgium, and the newer carillon in the same tower is a fourth low!!) So, the transposition is all in what key you connect the given bell to. Thing about it in practical terms: if space or funding is tight, and doesn't allow for a concert-pitch carillon, and the biggest bell you can accommodate is an E-flat, you don't want the keyboard to stop at E-flat, with no low D or C to play. (Believe it or not, the Montreal carillon, pitched in E-flat, was shipped that way, originally.)

Terry was referring to Canberra, Australia, which is pitched a minor second low, so in B. (Culver is the same transposition, as are Yale, University of Kansas, Utrecht Dom, Weert NL, and a handful of others.) It is rare that a new carillon, even a very large one, is installed in North America with a low transposition. Concert pitch is more of a "standard" now than it once was.
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Re: How long is too long?

Postby FrancesNewell on Fri Mar 01, 2013 12:35 am

Wow, Thanks John!
Now, maybe GCNA should have a congress in Canberra!
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Re: How long is too long?

Postby JohnGouwens on Fri Mar 01, 2013 12:48 am

Not many could afford the flight!
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