Two-Octave Carillons

Discussions on various technical aspects of carillon instruments and standards.

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Two-Octave Carillons

Postby JohnGouwens on Sat Dec 01, 2012 3:35 am

Jo Haazen has engaged in a discussion on the GCNA e-mail list about two-octave carillons. He asked me about resurrecting the discussion from an earlier discussion he and I had about keyboards. I'm not sure I can find all of it, but here is a start. This was from November 2011 in "Beiaardiers." This is a better place to continue it, I think.

The first part came from the Facebook Group, Beiaardiers:

Jo Haazen:
Dear John, When I come over to the US next time, I would like to see and to play on some WCF standard keyboards for further discussions. By email it is quit impossible to exchange all the meanings about it. For that we should be together in front of a real keyboard in the presence of some "professional" ergonomists. It is not enough to read by mail who did what and where and which brains and muscles we have. Everybody can tell what he wants by trying to convince other people about his authority. That concerns also me. We should be absolutely objective. When I spoke the first time before carillonneurs in the eighties, (after worldwide followed experiments with pianist in England) about the necessity of ergonomists in carillon world to obtain better keyboards, more and more carillonneurs (and bell founders as well) began to speak about this topic. Unfortunately, after that, I never met professional ergonomists who were seriously involved in keyboard building. Could it be possible to receive the names and the coordinates of that "professional" people that participates in this matter? It should be very happy and satisfied. May be I am not enough on the level of everything that happens during the last decades. In that case, please, excuse my ignorance.
Concerning the publication of this interesting forum, I agree, of course.
Have a nice day, dear friends!
Like · · Unfollow Post · Friday, November 25, 2011 at 5:33am
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John Gouwens: Great! I'll post it! Thanks! Gideon can surely tell us where to find good examples of the WCF keyboard in Europe. By now, surely there are several. In the US, the first, which was unveiled at a WCF congress there, was Springfield, Illinois, soon follow...See More
Friday, November 25, 2011 at 9:40am via mobile · LikeReply

Gideon Bodden: As far as I know, WCF-standard keyboards (or rather: interpretations of the WCF-standard!) in Europe can be found in Lokeren, Zwolle, Den Bosch, Vlaardingen, Vleuten...
Friday, November 25, 2011 at 10:35am · LikeReply

John Gouwens: What about Garderen, Moordrecht, and Hilvarenbeek? I would hate to think that your own work didn't also incorporate the standard!
Friday, November 25, 2011 at 11:15am via mobile · LikeReply

Gideon Bodden: Garderen has a European Standard keyboard, Moordrecht a 3 octave keyboard design that is generally used in The Netherlands these days, like the keyboard in the Munttoren. Customer's request. The keyboard in Hilvarenbeek was built in 1979, long time before the WCF Stadard came appeared. But by the way: I did NEVER say I personally am in favor of the WCF Standard.
Friday, November 25, 2011 at 11:27am · LikeReply

John Gouwens: I didn't realize the now-larger Hilvarenbeek carillon still uses the old console. Obviously, I must ask you this question, Gideon - if you do not favor the WCF standard, why not? (This is certainly related to the question you posed to Jo!)
Friday, November 25, 2011 at 1:14pm · LikeReply

John Gouwens: @Gideon: By the way, although I admit the proportions look a little odd, having 2 octaves of pedals on a three-octave carillon, the La Porte carillon - which is arranged that way - is wonderful to play on. Of course, it's usually necessary to adjust mu...See More
Friday, November 25, 2011 at 1:43pm · LikeReply

John Gouwens: OK, I've now copied the correspondence to the GCNA "general interest" list. I'd like to encourage everybody to continue the discussion there, where more people may be included. If you aren't on that list, please contact Wylie Crawford to request that you be added. - John
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Joined: Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:20 pm

Re: Two-Octave Carillons

Postby JohnGouwens on Thu Dec 13, 2012 9:09 pm

Related to this, the GCNA Members' E-Mail List included a spillover of the discussion:

John Gouwens The 2-Octave discussion (lifted from the GCNA Members' List)

From Jeffrey Bossin:

I am not famliar with 2 octave carillon s - do they usually have one or 1 1/2 octaves of pedals? If one octave of pedals, does one sit in front of the middle c-key and G-pedal?

Jeffrey Bossin

From John Gouwens:
Interesting question. I've mostly run into one-octave pedalboards - unless it's a carillon with a console designed for later expansion. (They you are very lucky.) In front of G pedal - probably, more or less. Not sure how much that was standardized - on any continent. If I remember right, the carillon at Belmont University (Nashville, TN) was built with a console designed for 3.5 octaves, and so the entire two octaves that were originally installed were playable from the Pedals. (It's been enlarged since.)

Dealing with 2-octave music is tricky, by the way. Sometimes, it's all notated on treble clef in two staves, with the bourdon being middle C, sometimes with tenor C, as with larger instruments.

- John Gouwens

From Jo Haazen:

Dear Jeffry, John,
A two octave carillon do not need pedals.
Why we need always for or more octaves?
It's strange that many carillonneurs can not play on little instruments.
Here is something to do, I think.
Warm regards.

From Gijsbert Kok:
For many years I'm carilloneur of Bergen (Netherlands), two octaves + c# / d. There is a low E-flat, but no low C#.
The pedal-board is one octave and yes, I sit in front of the middle c-key and G- pedal.
The extra c#/d at the top are very useful, they allow you to play a lot more music, e.g. pieces in d-minor or F- major.

Gijsbert Kok

From Frances Newell:
My 2-octave carillon has one octave of pedals. I usually center myself at the middle C, but if I have extra pedal action, I sit farther down. I keep my pedal parts quite simple, since there is not much space. I do a lot more with my hands.
Btw, we took heavy damage at St George's from hurricane Sandy. Our bells are tough! We'll be back!
Frances Newell

From Jeffrey Bossin:
Thanx for those responses. I'm asking because Anthony Skilbeck, who has written a number of two-octave pieces - I believe for John Knox - sent me his latest to look thru and I made suggestions regarding the distribution of the notes between manual & pedal (I think ACME will publish these & I don't know if they will adopt my suggestions). I have always encouraged Anthony to write for two-octave instruments telling him carillonneurs will be pleased to have some interesting music to play on them.

I have played a number of two octave carillons. As an American I was used to viewing the carillon as a standard instrument one played repertoire on. Coming to Europe I was confronted with a lot of interesting carillons, especially two-octave ones. Lößnitz on the Czech border in East Germany - the only bells with swastika bell ornamentation. Very heavy action and if I remember rightly, only six pedals c-d-e-f-f-sharp-g. Altenburg with one octave of pedals g-a-b-c-c-sharp-d-d-sharp-e-f-f-sharp-g done by the Schillings so because Todd Fair told them carillons shouldn't transpose. Chatenay in France with no pedals and keyboard c-c-sharp-d-d-sharp-e-f-f-sharp-g-a-b-flat-c (no g-sharp). Romans which had a two-octave electric piano keyboard.

The most interesting experience was in Marlhes. In 1998 was invited by Jean Bernard Lemoine to play a number of concerts in and around Lyon. If he ever invites you my advice is - go! He is a great host and he always knows where the best parties with the most wonderful dinners are. But expect the unexpected. He said "We are going to visit my good friend on the weekend, he has a farm in a tiny village in the mountains, we spend the night, take your tooth-brush. He has wonderful champagne and bakes great cookies!" We drove to this little town, parked, went into the barn and there I saw a big poster announcing a past concert given by Charlemagne Palestine, whom I knew because he had played a concert for me in 1996 in Berlin. Then we went across the street to look at an incongruously large stone cathedral. Imagine my surprise when I saw chairs being set up on the square in front of it and a big poster announcing a gala concert in an hour's time by the famous carillonneur from Berlin - Jeffrey Bossin! Jean Bernard had told me nothing about this! I was then ushered into the church where, stuck in the corner on the ground floor I was shown an electric piano keyboard with eight diatonic white keys - no black ones - and told I was to perform on this for 45 minutes. I was speechless. I was upset. I wanted to give Jean Bernard a piece of my mind. But I realized that wouldn't help or change anything, it would just make him very unhappy without bettering the situation. So I kept my mouth shut (for once), grabbed a piece of paper and began writing down all the melodies I could think of that the audience could relate to - Yesterday, Freres Jacques, Lili Marleen, Brahms Lullaby, Muss i denn, ect. that would fit on this keyboard. I had to change a few notes but what the Hell. I then added some improvisations in the style of Charlemagne Palestine since I heard he'd made a good impression and some imitation Russian bellringing since I had been to Russia several times and taken part in several of their bell festivals. And did my best even though it was impossible to hear any of the music when playing the keyboard stuck away in a little room of the church. I managed to get through the 45 minutes ok and afterwards everyone was pleased and the evening ended in another great dinner at a local restaraunt. But it made me realize that being a successful carillonneur in Europe means being able to go into any tower that has bells and, no matter what kind of crazy instrument one finds, being able to improvise something on it that will please the audience.

Jeffrey Bossin

Now then, if there is much interest, I could import more of the above discussion, but this is enough to give you the gist. - John Gouwens
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