Handbells Make Exciting Return
St. John’s Day marks the long-awaited return of our beautiful White Chapel and Malmark 4-octave handbell set - back from being refurbished in South Carolina over the summer.
The handbell choir has noticed a marked difference in their sound and playability after work done on the instruments. The added benefit is that the bells are also extra shiny.
To mark this weekend’s special, church-wide celebration coupled with the return of the bells, I have chosen a special arrangement of The Church’s One Foundation that really puts our handbells (and handbell choir) to the test.
Beyond traditional “ringing” of the bells, the piece is packed full of a number of “extended techniques” or unique ways of making the bells sound. The choir has learned a wide range of new terms - echo, gyro, martellato, martellato lift, swing, thumb damp, mallet, mallet lifts, and shakes. All of these markings, when played, create a wide range of different bell tones.
Here are couple of special ones to keep your eyes (and ears) open for this week:
- Echo - The player rings the bell, then taps the bell off of the table foam to create a softer “echo” effect.
- Gyro - the player rings the bell then spins the bell in a circular motion, like a gyroscope.
- Swing - the player rings the bell then swings the bell back and forth creating a doppler effect-like sound.
- Thumb-damps - the player places a gloved finger on the brass of the bell, dampening the bell as it is sounded. This creates a short, staccato, note.