van Bergen Company Bellfoundry, Cast Bells, Carillon, Peal

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A carillon is a keyboard musical instrument composed of twenty-three or more chromatically attuned bells capable of playing a complete range of music.
Swinging peal and carillon, Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Wichita, KS. Hear a Cast Bell Carillon (.wav, 1.5M)

The carillon was developed from simpler bell mechanisms and began around the seventeenth century in Europe, when small sets of bells were installed in clock towers and mechanically arranged so that they would ring before the sounding of the heavy hour bell.

Usually the instrument is played from a "baton" or clavier keyboard, which operates the bells mechanically through a series of levers. A carillon may also be played electrically from a keyboard similar to a piano. Then, too, an electrically operated carillon may be played automatically by a digital player, and numerous automatic functions may be included such as Westminster chimes, an hour strike, a swinging peal and a tolling bell.

The classic instrument is played mechanically from a clavier in the tower. The clavier or baton keyboard is placed directly under the bells in a room in the tower. Two rows of levers, chromatically arranged, represent the keys; the long levers are comparable to the white keys on a piano or organ, the short levers represent the black keys. A pedalboard is also provided, and the use of the foot levers greatly increases the number of bells which can be played at one time. Swinging bells, time strike, electric and computer operation are all optional.

When selecting an instrument, one must take into consideration the number of bells and particularly the weight of the bourdon or largest bell. This bell determines the weight and cost of the complete carillon. A genuine bell carillon is a custom designed instrument, both in number and size of the bells.

Of all the instruments which the hand of man has yet conceived, none is more enduring than the true carillon of fine cast bronze bells. Cast by a high and sensitive order of artist and craftsman, these bells are indestructible and stay in tune forever.

The carillon is normally played on a daily basis as well as on important religious days, on festivals, on patriotic and other holy days, on events of particular importance.

A good bell is not made by chance, but is the result of wise combination of thought and skill.

Listing of recent
chime/carillon installations
Carillons from van Bergen are unmatched because of the guidance of President Harmannus (Harry) H. van Bergen. Harry van Bergen grew up in a bellfounder's family and studied the art in Europe. He learned to play the carillon while at college, studied with the late Kamiel Lefevere of New York City's Riverside Church, and is an associate member of the Guild of Carillonneurs. His bell expertise has been developed over a period of more than 40 years, which gives him the experience to make the best possible recommendation.

No other firm in the United States can give you this background, which is vital for the finest installation.

A cast bell carillon is not only an outstanding musical instrument, but also provides many possibilities for lovely, if not spectacular, decorative effects in the tower.