Wednesday, January 5, 8270

England (b. c. 1270) - Te Deum - Bells, Recorders

England (b. c. 1270) - Te Deum (Bells, Alto and two Tenor Recorders)

A bell is a simple sound-making device. The bell is a percussion instrument and an idiophone. Its form is usually an open-ended hollow drum which resonates upon being struck. The striking implement can be a tongue suspended within the bell, known as a clapper, a small, free sphere enclosed within the body of the bell, or a separate mallet.

Bells are usually made of cast metal, but small bells can also be made from ceramic or glass. Bells can be of all sizes: from tiny dress accessories to church bells weighing many tons.

In the Western world, its most classical form is a church bell or town bell, which is hung within a tower and sounded by having the entire bell swung by ropes, whereupon an internal hinged clapper strikes the body of the bell (called a free-swinging bell). A set of bells, hung in a circle for change ringing, is known as a ring of bells.

In the Eastern world, the traditional forms of bells are temple and palace bells, small ones being rung by a sharp rap with a stick, and very large ones rung by a blow from the outside by a large swinging beam. This last technique is employed world-wide for some of the largest tower-borne bells, because swinging the bell itself could damage the tower.

In the Roman Catholic Church and among some High Lutherans and Anglicans, small hand-held bells, called Sanctus or sacring bells, are often rung by a server at Mass when the priest holds high up first the host, and then the chalice immediately after he has said the words of consecration over them (the moment known as the Elevation). This serves to indicate to the congregation that the bread and wine have just been transformed into the body and blood of Christ (see transubstantiation), or, in the alternative Reformation teaching, that Christ is now bodily present in the elements, and that what the priest is holding up for them to look at is Christ himself (see consubstantiation).

Japanese Shintoist and Buddhist bells are used in religious ceremonies. Suzu, a homophone meaning both "cool and refreshing," are spherical bells which contain metal pellets that produce sound from the inside. The hemispherical bell is the Kane bell, which is struck on the outside.

Buddhist bells are used in religious ceremonies.

Whereas the church and temple bells called to mass or religious service, bells were used on farms for more secular signaling. The greater farms in Scandinavia usually had a small bell-tower resting on the top of the barn. The bell was used to call the workers from the field at the end of the day's work.

In folk tradition, it is recorded that each church and possibly several farms had their specific rhymes connected to the sound of the specific bells.

Some bells are used as musical instruments, such as carillons, (clock) chimes, or ensembles of bell-players, called bell choirs, using hand-held bells of varying tones. A "ring of bells" is a set of 4 to twelve bells or more used in change ringing, a particular method of ringing bells in patterns. A peal in changing ringing may have bells playing for several hours, playing 5,000 or more patterns without a break or repetition..

The ancient Chinese had bronze bells called bianzhong or zhong which were used as musical instruments. Some of these bells were dated from 2000 to 3600 years old. These bells can each produce two tones. These bells usually have inscriptions on them from which scholars used as references for studying ancient Chinese writings (also known as Bronzeware script). Another related ancient Chinese musical instrument is called qing but it was made of stone instead of metal.

The process of casting bells is called bellmaking or bellfounding, and in Europe dates to the 4th or 5th century.

The traditional metal for these bells is a bronze of about 23% tin. Known as bell metal, this alloy is also the traditional alloy for the finest Turkish and Chinese cymbals. Other materials sometimes used for large bells include brass and iron. Bells are always cast mouth down.
Bells are made to exact formulas, so that given the diameter it is possible to calculate every dimension, and its musical note, or tone. The frequency of a bell's note in Hz varies with the square of its thickness, and inversely with its diameter. Much experimentation has been devoted to determining the exact shape that will give the best tone. The thickness of a church bell at its thickest part, called the 'sound bow' is usually one thirteenth its diameter. If the bell is mounted as cast, it is called a "maiden bell" while "tuned bells" are worked after casting to produce a precise note.

Bells are also associated with clocks, indicating the hour by ringing. Indeed, the word clock comes from the Latin word cloca, meaning bell. Clock towers or bell towers can be heard over long distances which was especially important in the time when clocks were too expensive for widespread use.

In the case of clock towers and grandfather clocks, a particular sequence of tones may be played to represent the hour. One common pattern is called the "Westminster Quarters," a sixteen-note pattern named after the Palace of Westminster which popularized it as the measure used by Big Ben.

The Great Bell of Dhammazedi (1484) may have been the largest bell ever made. It was lost in a river in Myanmar after being removed from a temple by the Portuguese in 1608. It is reported to have been about 300 tonnes in weight.

The Tsar bell by the Motorin Bellfounders is the largest bell still in existence. It weighs 160 tonnes, but it was never rung and broke in 1737. It is on display in Moscow, Russia, inside the Kremlin.

The Great Mingun Bell is the largest functioning bell. It is located in Mingun, Myanmar, and weighs 90 tonnes (200,000 lb).

The Gotenba Bell is the largest functioning swinging bell, weighing 79,900 lb. It is located in a tourist resort in Gotenba, Japan. Hung in a freestanding frame, and rung by hand. Cast by Eijsbouts in 2006.

The World Peace Bell was the largest functioning swinging bell until 2006. It is located in Newport, Kentucky, United States, cast by Paccard of France. The bell itself weighs 66,000 lb while with clapper and supports the total weight which swings when the bell is tolled is 89,390 lb.

The St. Petersglocke, in the local dialect of Cologne also called "Decke Pitter" (fat Peter), is a bell in Germany's Cologne Cathedral. It weighs 24 tons and was cast in 1922. It is the largest functioning free-swinging bell in the world that swings around the top. (The Gotenba Bell and the World Peace Bell swing around the center of gravity, which is more like turning than swinging. So, depending on the point of view, the St. Petersglocke may be up to now the largest free-swinging bell in the world.)

Big Ben is the hour bell of the Great Clock in the Clock Tower at the Palace of Westminster, the home of the Houses of Parliament in the United Kingdom.

The South West tower of St Paul's Cathedral in London, England, houses Great Paul, the largest bell in the British Isles. It weighs 16½ tons and is larger than Big Ben. One can hear Great Paul booming out over Ludgate Hill at 1300 every day.

Great Tom is the bell that hangs in Tom Tower (designed by Christopher Wren) of Christ Church, Oxford. It was cast in 1680, and weighs over six tons. Great Tom is still rung 101 times at 21:05 every night to signify the 101 original scholars of the college.

The Liberty Bell is an American bell of great historic significance, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It previously hung in Independence Hall and was rung on July 4, 1776 to mark American independence.

Little John, named after the character from the legends of Robin Hood is the bell within the Clock Tower of Nottingham Council House. It is the deepest bell in the United Kingdom and its chimes are said to be heard over the greatest distance of any in the UK.

Sigismund is a bell in the Wawel Cathedral in Kraków, Poland, cast in 1520. It is rung only on very significant national occasions.

The Maria Gloriosa in Erfurt, cast by Gerhard van Wou, is considered to be one of Germany's, and also Europe's, most beautiful medieval bells, serving as a model for many other bells.

A variant on the bell is the tubular bell. Several of these metal tubes which are struck manually with hammers, form an instrument named tubular bells or chimes.

In the case of wind or aeolian chimes, the tubes are blown against one another by the wind.


[The Coronation of the Virgin of Cologne (c. 1400), including three recorder-playing angels (upper left, third row down)]

The recorder is a woodwind musical instrument of the family known as fipple flutes or internal duct flutes -- whistlelike instruments which include the tin whistle and ocarina. The recorder is end-blown and the mouth of the instrument is constricted by a wooden plug, known as a block or fipple.

It is distinguished from other members of the family by having holes for seven fingers (the lower one or two often doubled to facilitate the production of semitones) and one for the thumb of the uppermost hand. The bore of the recorder is occasionally cylindrical but is usually tapered slightly, being widest at the mouthpiece end.

The recorder was popular from medieval times but declined in the eighteenth century in favour of orchestral woodwind instruments, such as the flute, oboe, and clarinet. During its heyday, the recorder was traditionally associated with birds, shepherds, miraculous events, funerals, marriages and amorous scenes. Images of recorders can be found in literature and artwork associated with all these. Purcell, Bach, Telemann and Vivaldi used the recorder to suggest shepherds and birds, and the pattern has continued to the present.

The recorder was revived in the 20th Century, partly in the pursuit of historically informed performance of early music, but also because of its suitability as a simple instrument for teaching music and its appeal to amateur players. Today, it is often thought of as a child's instrument, but there are many excellent virtuosic players who can demonstrate the instrument's full potential as a solo instrument.

The sound of the recorder is remarkably clear and sweet, partly because of the lack of upper harmonics and predominance of odd harmonics in the sound.

The instrument has been known, in English, as a recorder, at least since the 1300's.

The English name originates from the use of the word record, one of whose meanings is "to practise a piece of music."

Up to the 18th century, the instrument was called Flauto (flute) in Italian, the language used in writing music, whereas the instrument we today call the flute was called Flauto traverso. This has led to some pieces of music occasionally being mistakenly performed on transverse flute rather than on recorder.

Today, the recorder is known as flauto dolce in Italian (sweet flute), flauta de pico or flauta dulce in Spanish, flute à bec in French (beaked flute), Blockflöte in German, blokfløjte in Danish, "blockflöjt" in Swedish and blokfluit (block flute) in Dutch.

The recorder is held outwards from the player's lips (rather than to the side, like the "transverse" flute). The player's breath is compressed into a linear airstream by a channel cut into the wooden "block" or fipple, in the mouthpiece of the instrument, so as to travel along thia channeled duct called the "windway." Exiting from the windway, the breath is directed against a hard edge, called the "labium" or "ramp", which causes the column of air within the resonator tube to oscillate at the desired frequency, determined by the bore length or open tone hole used. See Von Karman vortex street for frequency generation. The length of the air column (and the pitch of the note produced) is modified by finger holes in the front and thumb hole at the back of the instrument. Because the windway shapes the air flow and conducts it to the labium, it is not necessary to form an embouchure with the lips. It is sometimes claimed the shape and size of the recorder player's mouth cavity has a discernible effect on the timbre (sometimes called tone color and response of the recorder), but this is yet to be established scientifically.

The roughly rectangular opening at the front of the recorder's headpiece, which includes the labium, is called the "window."

Recorders are made in a variety of sizes. They are most often tuned in C or F, meaning that their lowest note possible is a C or an F. However, instruments in D, B flat, G, and E flat were not uncommon historically and are still found today, especially the tenor recorder in D, which is called a "voice-flute." Refer to the table to see the entire recorder family in C and F.

The recorder most often used for solo music is the treble recorder (known as alto in the USA), and when the recorder is specified without further qualification, it is this size that is meant. The descant (known as the soprano in the USA) also has an important repertoire of solo music (not just school music) and there is a little for tenor and bass recorders. Classroom instructors most commonly use the descant (soprano in USA). The largest recorders, larger than the bass recorder, are less often used, since they are expensive and their sizes (the contrabass in F is about 2 meters tall) make them hard to handle.

For recorder ensemble playing, the decant/soprano, treble/alto, tenor and bass are most common -- many players can play all four sizes. Great basses and contrabasses are always welcome but are more expensive. The sopranino does not blend as well and is used primarily in recorder orchestras and for concerto playing.

The larger recorders have great enough distances between the finger holes that most people's hands can not reach them all. So, instruments larger than the alto (and sometimes alto recorders, as well) have keys to enable the player to cover the holes or to provide better tonal response. In addition, the largest recorders are so long that the player cannot simultaneously reach the finger holes with the hands and reach the mouthpiece with the lips. So, instruments larger than the bass (and some bass recorders too) may use a bocal or crook, a thin metal tube, to conduct the player's breath to the windway, or they may be constructed in sections that fold the recorder into a shape that brings the windway back into place.

Today, high-quality recorders are made from a range of hardwoods: maple, pear wood, rosewood, grenadilla, or boxwood with a block of red cedar wood.

Most modern recorders are based on instruments from the Baroque period, although some specialist makers produce replicas of the earlier Renaissance style of instrument. These latter instruments have a wider, less tapered bore and typically possess a less reedy, more blending tone more suited to consort playing.

Sheet music for recorder is nearly always notated in "concert key," meaning that a written "C" in the score actually sounds as a "C." This implies that the player must learn two different sets of similar fingerings, one for the C recorders and another for the F recorders. However, many sizes of recorder do transpose at the octave. The garklein sounds two octaves above the written pitch; the sopranino and soprano sound one octave above written pitch. Alto and tenor sizes do not transpose at all, while the bass and great bass sound one octave above written (bass clef) pitch. Contrabass and subcontrabass are non-transposing while the octocontrabass sounds one octave below written pitch.

Sizes from garklein down through tenor are notated in the treble clef while the bass size and lower usually read the bass clef. Professionals can usually read C-clefs and often perform from original notation.

The range of a modern recorder is usually taken to be about two octaves except in virtuoso pieces.

Most of the notes in the second octave and above are produced by partially closing the thumbhole on the back of the recorder, a technique known as "pinching." The placement of the thumb is crucial to the intonation and stability of these notes, and varies as the notes increase in pitch, making the boring of a double hole for the thumb unviable. To play the notes in the second octave, the player must tongue somewhat harder in order to excite the second and third harmonics of the instrument.

A skilled player can, with a good recorder, play chromatically over two octaves and a fifth. Use of notes in the 3rd octave is becoming more common in modern compositions; several of these notes require closure of the bell or shading of the window area (ie holding the palm of the hand above the window, partially restricting the air emerging from it). In the hands of a competent player, these upper notes are not especially loud or shrill.

Changes in dynamics are not easy to achieve on the recorder if the player is accustomed to other wind instruments. If the player blows harder to play louder, or more softly to play softer, the pitch changes and the note goes out of tune, and unlike the transverse flute, the player cannot change the position of the mouth in relation to the labium in order to compensate. Consequently pitch is controlled largely by the breath, and dynamics are controlled largely by the fingers; for example by resting the fingers lightly on the holes breath leaks around them, lifting the pitch; and the resulting instinctive change in breath pressure to bring the pitch back also drops the volume. Advanced players use alternative fingerings to enable changes in dynamics.[20]. The recorder is notable for its sensitivity to articulation; in addition to its obvious use for artistic effect skilled players can also use this sensitivity to suggest changes in volume.

The true recorders are distinguished from other internal duct flutes by having eight finger holes (in use - see below); seven on the front of the instrument and one, for the upper hand thumb, on the back, and having a slightly tapered bore, with its widest end at the mouthpiece. It is thought that these instruments evolved in the 1300's, but an earlier origin is a matter of some debate, based on the depiction of various whistles in medieval paintings. To this day whistles -as used in Irish folk music- have six holes. The original design of the transverse flute (and its fingering) was based on the same six holes, but it was later much altered by Theobald Böhm.

One of the earliest surviving instruments was discovered in a castle moat in Dordrecht, the Netherlands in 1940, and has been dated to the 14th century. It is largely intact, though not playable. A second more or less intact 14th century recorder was found in a latrine [!] in northern Germany (in Göttingen): other 14th-century examples survive from Esslingen (Germany) and Tartu (Estonia). There is a fragment of a possible 14th-15th-century bone recorder in Rhodes (Greece); and there is an intact 15th-century example from Elblag (Poland).

The earliest recorders were designed to be played either right-handed (with the right hand lowermost) or left-handed (with the left hand lowermost). The holes were all in a line except for the lowest hole, for the lower hand little finger. This last hole was offset from the center line, and drilled twice, once on each side. The player would fill in the hole they didn't want to use with wax. It is this doubled hole (not to be confused with the later double holes for semitones) which accounts for the early French name flute à neuf trous In later years, the right-hand style of playing was settled on as standard and the second hole disappeared.

One of the more interesting developments in recorder playing over the last 30 years has been the development of recorder orchestras. They can have 60 or more players and use up to nine sizes of instrument. In addition to arrangements, many new pieces of music, including symphonies, have been written for these ensembles. There are recorder orchestras in Germany, Holland, Japan, the United States, Canada, the UK and several other countries.

[8270 Tristan Trotto / 8270 Te Deum / 8260 Petrus de Cruce]