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What is a Carillon?

Carillons are the largest musical instruments in existence. They consist of a chromatic series of fixed bells which sound when struck by clappers. A set of bells must contain at least 25 chromatically tuned bells (2 octaves) to qualify as a carillon. Bells have existed for centuries. Bronze bells from the Shang Dynasty (1520-1030 BC) have been found in China; earthenware bells from around 2000 B C have been found in Romania, Knossos and Crete. The development of the carillon, as distinct from single bells or peals of swinging bells, dates from the rise of the Low Country towns in the 13th and 14th Centuries. The earliest carillons were associated with clocks and were played mechanically. About 1480 the first true carillon to be played manually was built in Flanders.

About the Sydney instrument
Sample sounds

The carillon tower at the University of Sydney

The Guild of Carillonneurs in North America (GCNA) offers more information on carillons.

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Last updated 20 February 2013.
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