Expansion options for a 3 octave carillon

Discussions on various technical aspects of carillon instruments and standards.

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Re: Expansion options for a 3 octave carillon

Postby JohnGouwens on Thu Apr 18, 2013 3:11 am

Schulmerich ages ago used to claim those "English Bells" were appropriate for change-ringing, which is utter nonsense! Among its "features" is a hum tone that is a major sixth below the prime, rather than an octave (so e-flat in the tenor octave for a middle c). No decent bell is ever like that!
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Re: Expansion options for a 3 octave carillon

Postby TerryMcGee on Thu Apr 18, 2013 8:38 am

Very strange.

Now all of that reminded me that MIDI isn't so much the issue, but sampling versus synthesised. MIDI delivery systems can work with either. That Schulmerich e-bell was clearly synthesised, but what I was talking about for carillon range augmentation is sampled sound. Some of the better "piano" systems sample every note of a real piano, at five different volume levels. Then the MIDI system interpolates that to give 128 volume levels. It would be interesting to throw that sampling precision up against a real bell and see if we could tell the difference, aurally or analytically. Especially if it was the very bell that had been sampled!

If anyone comes across a sampled carillon sound they think is commendable, let me know and I'll do a run on it. After the Schulmerich experience, I need my faith in technology rebuilt!

Planning to get back to your remaining samples next, John. The challenge with the Schulmerich material was to find a meaningful way to present unrelated data. Yours are at the subtle extreme. All grist to the mill.

Terry
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Re: Expansion options for a 3 octave carillon

Postby JohnGouwens on Thu Apr 18, 2013 3:46 pm

Several bellfoundry representatives have sampled carillons in full for practice consoles with MIDI (which I oppose elsewhere here), and the immense G&J at University of Chicago has been fully sampled at least twice. Of course, you would need to compare those samples to the specific bells involved. The question remains whether a PA system could broadcast it convincingly at live carillon levels.
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Re: Expansion options for a 3 octave carillon

Postby TerryMcGee on Thu Apr 18, 2013 11:20 pm

I'd be confident you could get adequate reproduction at realistic levels, but it would have to be undertaken with care, as would the whole process from sampling the real bells onwards. And maintaining adequate standards right throughout the chain would be the challenge.

I did a little experiment to see if one could afford to take out the hum partial (on the grounds that it allegedly doesn't contribute much to audibility). Taking it out would reduce the requirements of the sound system enormously, especially if we are talking big bells. But inserting a notch filter at the Hum frequency really emasculates the bell tone. That would not be consistent with maintaining standards!

Even with a low G bell, the lowest partial (the Hum) frequency is about 100Hz, which is nearly two octaves higher than the lowest note on a grand piano. That makes a big difference in the size of speakers needed. At the top end, the highest (desirable) partials are only around 5000 Hz, two octaves less than the top of the audible range. So a system flat over the range 100Hz to 6500 Hz would probably do the job. That's about 6 octaves, compared to the full 10 octaves of the audio band, so could be dealt with using two driver systems. Three would make it smoother. But, we are probably talking levels of about 120dB SPL, and omnidirectional coverage, so it would probably require multiple horn-loaded drivers for the middle and upper end, facing in the various directions needed, and a big horn-loaded woofer system which would probably be omnidirectional enough (such is the nature of woofers). The amplifiers would have to be able to supply enough power without clipping on the peaks. I imagine the bongatron manufacturers have gone into all this and could supply suitable sound systems. Whether they can also supply adequate sampled bell sounds I don't know. One would hope so, but....

Interesting ethical consideration. Can one rock up to a carillon and sample its sounds for use elsewhere, or does that infringe rights of the carillon owner or manufacturer? (Not that I plan to!) In practical terms one would need to close-mic the bells, so that would require at least access permission from the carillon owner. Are there attorneys specialising in MIDI law?
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