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The History of Handbells

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Aubree Boswell

on 17 June 2011

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Transcript of The History of Handbells

The History of Handbells Handbells are a lost artform with the simplest purpose. Obviously, the handbell is a bell designed to be rung by hand. Each handbell represents a note on a standard piano Handbells are one of the oldest instruments known to man. The first
tuned bells were created in Wiltshire, England by the brothers William
and Robert Cor. Schulmerich is the world's largest producer of handbells and carillons. The company is the oldest existing handbell manufacturer in the United States beginning in 1935. Cam-pa-nol-o-gy: the study of bells. Why don't we take a little
break from all the history.. Handbells are typically made of brass. The bells are tuned prior to attaching the Clapper, the stick like mechanism that strikes the bells to produce sound. Shulmerich bells have the ideal striking location marked on the bells so that the clapper can be attached properly. The handle on the bells is usually made of leather, rubber or synthetic polymers. During medieval times, due to the long time association of bells to religion, most bells were baptized. Once baptized, it was believed that the bells could ward off evil spirits. Hung in the doorways of homes, the bells would be rung by visitors before entering the home. This is believed to be the origin of doorbells. The most common uses of bells in ancient times were most likely for ranchers to herd cattle and other livestock and for tradesmen's horse drawn wagons to warn approaching traffic on narrow country roads. However, over the years the tuned bells moved to the churches to accompany choirs. English handbells were brought to the United States from England in 1902 by Margaret Shurcliff. Today, Shulmerich and a smaller company, Malmark Bellcraftsman, both are based in Pennsylvania. To keep the bells resonating today, the musicians of The Harmonic Bronze Handbell Ensemble consider themselves ambassadors of music and humble servants to their Acton and Agua-Dulce communities, sharing music and diversity to traditional handbell ringing. The ensemble, which is comprised of young musicians between the ages of eleven to eighteen, is lead under the direction of Lawrence Rowland. The group has gained much popularity throughout northern parts of Los Angeles County and in recent years has received opportunities to perform at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on Christmas Eve, Disney's Magic Music Days at Disneyland, the Los Angeles Police Department Headquarters, the Lancaster Performing Arts Center, JetHawks Stadium, Knott's Berry Farm, and local community events. Typically, Small handbell groups use a minimum of twenty-five bells ranging from G4 to G6, two octaves. Larger groups can have a maximum ofl ninety-seven bells ranging from C1 to C9, eight octaves. The bells are arranged chromatically when played. Usually, each musician is assigned to a particular set of bells, essentially, making the ensemble one reverberating instrument.
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