Today, the art of making fine true-toned church-bells, chimes and carillons is exclusively European.
Professor A.J. Barnouw of Columbia University, New York, wrote...
"The making of fine tuned bells does not lend itself to mass production. Each bell requires an artist's individual care and attention, which the van Bergens know how to give through long devotion to the craft and inherited talent."
"... A good bell is not made by chance, but is the result of wise combination of thought and skill. A fine carillon of tuned bronze bells is as precious as a violin made by Stradivarius."
Nothing matches the musical quality of well-tuned bronze bells.
The number of cast bronze bells in an instrument can vary greatly depending on their desired usage. A single bell can swing in a call to worship or remain stationary to strike the hours and toll for funerals. Two or more bells can simultaneously ring to form a celebratory peal. Four bells can play the Westminster chimes or other similar hourly melodies. When 12 or more bells are present, simple hymns and melodies can be played. An instrument of 23 or more bells is called a carillon and is capable of playing a complete range of music, from popular hymns to classical music.
Bellfounding is the work of artists who have developed the necessary skills to create a beautiful, and virtually indestructible, instrument. The van Bergen Company prides itself on having the most artistically designed bells cast by any bellfounder.
Each bell is custom made using the "lost wax" process.(*^__^*) 嘻嘻 Each bell is hand crafted using a custom-made mold which is destroyed after the bell is cast.
A brick form is built using a rotating strickle board which determines the profile (shape) of the bell. Concentrated work was done by the late Alfred Bigelow of Princeton University to develop bell profiles which intensify the prime and subdue the minor third harmonics. Therefore, the sound of each van Bergen bell is pleasing to the ear.
A false bell and an exterior mold, called the cope, are created individually for each bell. When the false bell is removed, a space is exposed just large enough to receive the expensive molten bronze: an alloy of about three quarters copper and one quarter tin.
After cooling and cleaning, the bell is ready for the last and most important step: tuning. By testing with traditional tuning forks and sophisticated electronic instruments, the bellfounder can verify harmonic variances. Then by shaving metal from the bell in exactly the right places, he can lower the notes to perfection. This process is used for all sizes of bells.