Expansion options for a 3 octave carillon

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Re: Expansion options for a 3 octave carillon

Postby JohnGouwens on Sun Apr 14, 2013 10:34 am

Tallying usage is an interesting idea, though again, I have grave doubts about how that would sound. Manipulating the sample of an existing bell is certaiinly an interesting idea. In my opinion, there is no avoiding the necessity of a new low C bell. So much repertoire calls for - and often ends on - low C that a fake there would really ruin a whole lot of music. If they found a carillonneur (and this should entail paying said carillonneur), they would indeed have heavy usage figures for low C. Is there really space to expand down to low G in the tower? If not, crusading for that would be in vain.
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Re: Expansion options for a 3 octave carillon

Postby TerryMcGee on Sun Apr 14, 2013 11:59 am

Heh heh, I guess proponents of every instrument would argue the same. I suspect though it would be easier to MIDI a bell than a flute. A bell is a defined event. The clapper strikes, the bell tone rises, then falls and decays away. Piano notes are events too, and MIDI works pretty well for piano. Flutes and fiddles are a continuum, and that gives the listener much more time and scope to be picky.

I think the problem with MIDI bells isn't so much the sound (which ought to be as good as a good recording can be) but the bizarre world that it invites you into. MIDI enables you to do away with musicians, and replace them with sequencers. Once you cross that rubicon, abandon all hope! We're no longer talking music, we're talking programmed noise.

Anyone have access to a MIDI bell sound? It would be interesting to compare it with a recording of a real bell sound and see what the difference really is.

Terry
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Re: Expansion options for a 3 octave carillon

Postby TerryMcGee on Sun Apr 14, 2013 12:09 pm

JohnGouwens wrote:Tallying usage is an interesting idea, though again, I have grave doubts about how that would sound. Manipulating the sample of an existing bell is certaiinly an interesting idea. In my opinion, there is no avoiding the necessity of a new low C bell. So much repertoire calls for - and often ends on - low C that a fake there would really ruin a whole lot of music. If they found a carillonneur (and this should entail paying said carillonneur), they would indeed have heavy usage figures for low C. Is there really space to expand down to low G in the tower? If not, crusading for that would be in vain.


There's heaps of room in the tower, which could be reckoned as both a blessing and a curse. The lowest tier has the D bell, and there are spaces on that tier pre-drilled for the missing Eb and F. There's at least space for another "floor" below that, and maybe twice that, before you come to the clavier room. That's the curse - the downwires have to pass through all that empty space.

There's also space above the current top tier which has the trebles. My feeling is that, if one were to countenance serious expansion, the whole framework would deserve revision.

There's certainly no problem finding place for a C bell, and I'd like that a lot. It would enable reducing the transposition (currently upwards one full tone) to zero.

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Re: Expansion options for a 3 octave carillon

Postby FrancesNewell on Mon Apr 15, 2013 12:30 am

Midi-generated bell sounds have no overtones!
I think they would sound bad next to real bells.
Also computers require maintenance, software experts, and if a storm knocks out the power, you are out of a bass section!
I'd say get whatever bass bells you can afford and add more when you can!
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Re: Expansion options for a 3 octave carillon

Postby JohnGouwens on Mon Apr 15, 2013 2:13 am

Hear hear, Frances! I hadn't factored in how easily MIDI systems get destroyed! I will say it is absolutely possible to make a MIDI-generated sound with at least the illusion of whatever partials you want. (The don't occur naturally, after all, but you can put what you want in there.) My issues are that I think it's extremely difficult to do it well, and you should *never* rely on that means for essential notes. Low C,D,D#, E, F, on up should all be real bells. How often one uses a low C#, B, Bb, or lower, that is worth testing, but remember, if it sounds terrible, you will get an artificially low statistic!
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Re: Expansion options for a 3 octave carillon

Postby FrancesNewell on Mon Apr 15, 2013 10:22 am

[b]If you can get a Midi-generated bell sound to sound the partials, can you get it to KEEP sounding?
Real bells resonate longer, have a longer decay time.With bass bells in particular, that is part of their beauty.
I think it would really damage the balance of low and high bells to lose those low long resonances!
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Re: Expansion options for a 3 octave carillon

Postby JohnGouwens on Mon Apr 15, 2013 4:43 pm

Terry, I wouldn't plan on putting any bells below the openings, even if they fit in the tower. It's a lot of expense for bells that don't have a good cnance to be heard. Moving the playing cabin up closer (or putting the console on a platform to bring it closer to the ceiling) would be a better way to use some of that space.
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Re: Expansion options for a 3 octave carillon

Postby TerryMcGee on Tue Apr 16, 2013 12:35 pm

I figure we could allow bass bells to be below the opening as low bells are more powerful and their sound less directional. But a better solution, also available, is to move everything up a bit. And jiggle it around to best effect. Installing low bells would be disruptive, it would invite you to get everything else right at the same time. It would require a study into the load (and impact) capacity of the building, although it looks suitably immense to my unqualified eye.

I think all of that is best left to the future, when the instrument's social value has been proven and money a little easier to come by. For the moment, I'd be happy enough with a successful birth, and worry about child development later. Seventy five years labour is too long!

I can see there's not much enthusiasm for the MIDI augmented model! I can't see any technical reason why MIDI bell notes should be deficient in partials or decay time, but there could be many reasons why they might be. MIDI depends on making a good recording of a good original sound under good conditions - I can see lots of room for error there!

I suddenly thought of our domestic keyboard instrument and searched through its hundreds of voices and found "church bells" and "carillon". Both were totally laughable! So laughable I wonder if they are MIDI at all; perhaps they are synthesised. By comparison the pianos sound very plausible. Not only do they sound like pianos, as you move from piano to forte they change the partial balance like a piano does. That's the kind of thing a plausible MIDI carillon extension would need to do. I'd certainly want to hear one before I bought it!

Hmmm, I checked out the sample sounds available on Verdin's site:

http://www.verdin.com/carillons/digital-carillon-sounds.php

They have several tunes, each divided into Traditional, w/Harp, and American. American has a totally different tonal structure to Traditional. Anyone know what that's all about?

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Re: Expansion options for a 3 octave carillon

Postby JohnGouwens on Tue Apr 16, 2013 3:31 pm

Hmm - I could have some fun asking Tim Verdin about that some time! The "Traditional" sounds like the old Schulmerich bongatrons called "Flemish bells." The "American" sounds more convincingly like actual bells. (I don't think it sounds like Meneely bells or anything.) The Harp is something you find on Schulmerich instruments a lot, though those sound better than this - that Verdin harp is not in tune with the rest of things. I do think any "Harp" has no place in a tower, but the Schulmerich one is OK as a "Harp" on an organ: http://www.schulmerichbells.com/media/AveMaria44_8M.mp3.

Their so-called "English Bells" don't sound like decent bells of any nationality, but they've been selling those for some 60 years. http://www.schulmerichbells.com/media/CoventryCarol44_8M.mp3.
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Re: Expansion options for a 3 octave carillon

Postby TerryMcGee on Thu Apr 18, 2013 12:15 am

Hmmm, you're right in that observation, John. I downloaded one of the Schulmerich English Bell sounds and compared it to the same bell from Canberra. There is no conceivable likeness. See: http://www.mcgee-flutes.com/ElectronicVsCastBells.htm

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