About the Cathedrals Carillon
The Cathedrals Kibbey Carillon is the third heaviest in the world. Given by Miss Bessie J. Kibbey in memory of her grandparents, the 53 bronze bells of the carillon were cast at one time and installed in the early 1960s. The carillon was manufactured by the John Taylor Bellfoundry of Loughborough, England, and dedicated on September 22, 1963.
The smallest bell of the carillon weighs 17 pounds. The largest weighs 24,000 pounds, or 12 tons, and measures eight feet, eight inches in diameter. The carillon is played via a keyboard and pedals, situated high in the Cathedrals central tower (150 feet above the nave floor) and directly amid the bells. The keyboard controls a mechanical tracker system (similar to a tracker organ) that uses transmission wires to move the clappers. The bells remain stationary while a metal clapper strikes the inside of the casting.
About the Cathedrals Peal Bells
In a chamber above the Cathedrals carillon, high up in the Gloria in Excelsis tower, resides a 10-bell peal set for change ringing, a form of bell ringing begun in England in the seventeenth century. Cast by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry of London in the 1960s and installed in 1963, each bell bears an inscription. The bells vary in diameter from 28 to 55 inches and in weight from 608 to 3,588 pounds.
Peal bells play mathematical patterns, not melodic music, because peal bells cannot play a rhythm. It takes two seconds for a peal bell to ring and be ready to ring again. The casting rotates to strike the clapper, and the bells are played by pulling ropes.
The bells are rung by a band of ringers, one person to a bell. To protect their hearing, the ringers stand in a separate room beneath the bells and ring the bells using ropes. Ringers play patterns of notes called methods, which are more mathematical than tuneful. Each of the Cathedrals bells can be rung approximately once every two seconds, allowing for the rotation of the bell from mouth-up through mouth-down and back to mouth-up position. A peal is a compete set of changes (switches in order of the bells) on a given number of bells. To illustrate, here is an example of the simplest four-bell method of change ringing, called Plain Hunt. The bells are numbered according to their pitch, with the highest bell (or treble) being number 1 and the lowest (or tenor) being number 4:
1 2 3 4
2 1 4 3
2 4 1 3
4 2 3 1
4 3 2 1
3 4 1 2
3 1 4 2
1 3 2 4
1 2 3 4
A quarter peal on six of the Cathedrals bells takes approximately 45 minutes; ringers may not take breaks or switch off. A full peal on 10 bells would take about 123 days, ringing day and night. Ringing a bell is not as easy as it might appear. It involves swinging a 608 to 3,588-pound bell through a 360 arc in rhythm with up to nine other bells. Although the bells are counterbalanced, a certain amount of strength and coordinationand much practiceare required to keep the bell under control.