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Chimes/Tubular Bells (by Yamaha)
(Sets of percussion tubes)
|C4-F5 standard; extended range can include C4-G5, bass F3-B3, but can vary|
|Deagan, Adams, Yamaha, Jenco, Premier Percussion|
Tubular bells (also known as chimes) are musical instruments in the percussion family. Each bell is a metal tube, 30–38 mm (1¼–1½ inches) in diameter, tuned by altering its length. Its standard range is from C4-F5, though many professional instruments reach G5 (see photo). Tubular bells are often replaced by studio chimes, which are a smaller and usually less expensive instrument. Studio chimes are similar in appearance to tubular bells, but each bell has a smaller diameter than the corresponding bell on tubular bells.
Tubular bells are sometimes struck on the top edge of the tube with a rawhide- or plastic-headed hammer. Often, a sustain pedal will be attached to allow extended ringing of the bells. They can also be bowed at the bottom of the tube to produce a very loud, very high-pitched overtone.
The tubes used provide a purer tone than solid cylindrical chimes, such as those on a mark tree.
Chimes are often used in concert band pieces (e.g. "Eiger" by James Swearingen). Most composers write Chimes under the category of Percussion > Mallet Percussion. It rarely plays melody, mostly a bass that brings out some color but sometimes has some solos or solis, often very simple. Play (help·info)
In tubular bells, modes 4, 5, and 6 appear to determine the strike tone and have frequencies in the ratios 92:112:132, or 81:121:169, "which are close enough to the ratios 2:3:4 for the ear to consider them nearly harmonic and to use them as a basis for establishing a virtual pitch." The perceived "strike pitch" is thus an octave below the fourth mode (i.e., the missing "1" in the above series.)
In popular music
Multi-instrumentalist Mike Oldfield has used tubular bells on many of his studio albums, most notably Tubular Bells (1973), Tubular Bells II (1992) & Tubular Bells III (1998). He has also used them on other albums such as Hergest Ridge (1974), Ommadawn (1975) and Crises (1983).
Pink Floyd used tubular bells on The Dark Side of the Moon (1973) on the song "Brain Damage" but are rendered almost inaudible on the original stereo mix and quadrophonic mix. The band's drummer, Nick Mason pointed out that he had forgotten that they were on there until he heard them in the 5.1 surround mix for the 2003 SACD 30th anniversary edition of the album, which has since been released on DVD and BD.
The animated television series Futurama's theme is played on tubular bells.
The "funding for this program provided by ..." rider that followed the end credits of the children's television show Sesame Street also prominently featured tubular bells in the 1980s.
Rush's Neil Peart used tubular bells during several recording sessions. Specifically while recording "The Trees" "Xanadu" and "Closer to the Heart." He also used them on concert tours. They are used on the Exit...Stage Left concert DVD and CD. He has since replaced the tubular bells with a MIDI controlled marimba device, which, thanks to digital sampling, provides more versatility and is less cumbersome than tubular bells.
As church bells
Passages in classical music
- Hector Berlioz - Symphonie Fantastique (1830)
- Giuseppe Verdi - Rigoletto (1851), Troubadour (1853), Un ballo in maschera (1859)
- Modest Mussorgski - Boris Godunov (1869, 1872, 1874)
- Ruggero Leoncavallo - The Bajazzo (1892)
- Gustav Mahler - Symphony no. 2 (1895)
- Claude Debussy - Ibéria (1910)
- Anton Webern - Six pieces for orchestra (1910, 1913)
- Giacomo Puccini - Tosca (1900), Turandot (1926)
- Alexander Scriabin - Le Poème de’l exstase (1908)
- Richard Strauss - Die schweigsame Frau (1935)
- Edgard Varèse - Ionisation (1931)
- Paul Hindemith - Metamorphoses about a theme of C.M. von Weber (1944)
- Aaron Copland - Symphony no. 3 (1946)
- Carl Orff - Antigonae (1949)
- Olivier Messiaen - Turangalila (1949)
- Information about tubular bells – Vienna Symphonic Library