About Carillons

What is a Carillon?

Good question. A Carillon is a musical instrument consisting of 23 or more cast bronze, traditionally shaped bells, which have been precisely tuned so that any bell can be sounded together to produce a harmonious effect.

The Bells

Carillon bells are hung stationary; only the clappers move.

The Clavier

The clapper of each bell is connected by wires and other linkage to a playing mechanism called a console. This console contains a double row of rounded levers – called batons – plus a pedal board.

The Carillonneur sits on a bench facing the console and plays the instrument by depressing these batons with his hands which are loosely clenched into fists.

The batons are arranged in the same pattern as the keys of a piano. The pedals which are connected to the heavier, brass bells, are depressed by the feet.

As with the piano, expressive playing is achieved by variation of touch.

Like to see more? Here’s a short film on carillons.