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Harangjátékok / Carillons

Harangjáték / Carillon
The carillon is among the largest and heaviest musical instruments in the world. A set of carillon bells may weigh from less than two tonnes to more than 40, depending both upon the dimensions and height of the host bell-chamber and upon the musical taste and financial resources of the owner. The weight of individual bells may range from several tonnes for the lowest bass bell to 8 to 12 kg for the smallest treble bell. A heavy carillon (lowest C key linked to a c' bell weighing about 2200 kg or more) has a broad spectrum of volume and a long average reverberation time, resulting in an expressive and melodious overall effect. A light carillon (lowest C key linked to a g' bell weighing about 650 kg or less) compensates for a loss of expressiveness with greater freshness and transparency. A bell series can begin on any pitch, and most carillons are consequently transposing instruments. The height and the structure of the bell-chamber are determining factors for the sound of a carillon. Heavy carillons sound more homogeneous and melodious when placed in a closed bell-chamber. A closed bell-chamber has a ratio of openings to surface of 30% or less and consequently serves as an ideal resonator-box. A typical European carillon has 49 bells which are linked to the keyboard as: B-cd–c'. The pedal runs from B to g'. In North America the bass bell is connected to G on the keyboard, and the pedal compass is G–c”. The series is often completely chromatic and the number of bells is usually 55 or more and is then known as a Grand Carillon. Many recent North American carillons have been built as ‘non-transposing’ instruments, with the lowest note G linked to a G bell weighing approximately 6000 kg.
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A genti Belfry harangjátéka / The carillon of the Belfry of Ghent
Compasses on early carillons were usually no greater than two diatonic octaves, held back by limited knowledge of bell-tuning techniques. A breakthrough was achieved in this respect during the 17th century by François and Pieter Hemony, bell founders of Zutphen and Amsterdam, working in collaboration with the carillonneur jacob van Eyck. In about 1640 they developed a technique for accurately tuning the most important partial notes by turning the bell on a lathe and chiselling small amounts of metal away from the inner surface. The Hemony brothers cast 51 carillons; intact examples survive in Amsterdam, Utrecht, Antwerp, Ghent and elsewhere. The most important carillon founder of the 18th century was Andreas Jozef Vanden gheyn of Leuven. Outside of the Netherlands carillons were rather a curiosity; the few examples in Denmark, France, Germany, Portugal, Russia and Spain came about through political or trade contacts with the Low Countries. 17th- and 18th-century carillons were tuned in mean-tone temperament or a variant of it. The average number of bells in a set increased during this period to 32–40, permitting the use of approximately three chromatic octaves. Chiming barrel mechanisms became larger and more complex so that they could reproduce longer melodies. It was common for these to play four or eight times an hour. Larger towns had, in addition to the official city carillon, several instruments belonging to churches or abbeys. In contrast to the beyaerders of previous centuries, the carillonneurs of the 17th and 18th centuries were often trained all-round musicians, chosen by competitive examination. The carillonneur was expected to play several times each week and to re-peg the barrel a few times a year.
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