The Drama of Bell Founding in Andrei Rublev

The seminal film Andrei Rublev directed by Andrei Tarkovsky and co-written with Andrei Konchalovsky is regarded as one of the best films of all time. That’s nice and all, but what I’m interested in is the extended, dramatized section on bell founding. The final section shows in over 30 minutes the entire casting process of … Continue reading The Drama of Bell Founding in Andrei Rublev

Bell Ringing Methods in the Leaning Tower of Niles

Leaning Tower of Niles, IL Watching this video, you probably guessed that a computer communicates the programmed melodies to the external bell clappers, and that it keeps the bell performances on a schedule. And you are correct! And you are also correct that the Clock-O-Matic’s Apollo III bell controller can be accessed and manipulated via an onsite controller, remote, … Continue reading Bell Ringing Methods in the Leaning Tower of Niles

Hell’s Bells

In honor of the invasion of spooks and ghouls tomorrow on Halloween, I thought we’d focus on bells representing the profane. I give you . . . "Hell’s Bells" by AC/DC. That is a real, honest-to-goodness one-ton bronze bell hanging above the stage. Michael Milsom, former bellmaster at Taylor foundry in Loughborough, England, gives … Continue reading Hell’s Bells

The Long Resonance of Bronze

Loyola University, Madonna Della Strada Chapel bell, Chicago, IL

Christians once ascribed powerful properties to bells—the power to drive away demons, for example,  and still today some Christians believe they embody the voice of God. Before Christians, the members of ancient civilizations ascribed magico-sacral properties to bells too. Why were bells thought to hold so much sacred power? I never thought about this too … Continue reading The Long Resonance of Bronze

Value of Bells: Connection to Histories

greyscale photo of concrete tower building

The fourth main value of bells I perceive is their connection to histories. The first history I mean is the particular history of Western Europe. Today we are familiar with one main use of tower bells that dates to the middle ages—to signal to faithful Christians. For example, tower bells would signal when to pray … Continue reading Value of Bells: Connection to Histories

Bell Founding of Beit Chabab, Lebanon

A find about the last bell founder in Lebanon piqued my interest in bells in the middle east. I was intrigued by the explanation that the casting of big bells didn’t arrive in Lebanon until the Crusaders came through in the twelfth century.* Hadn’t they been making bells already for a long time? Yes, the … Continue reading Bell Founding of Beit Chabab, Lebanon

Buried Alive, with Bells

Happy Halloween! Bells have a sinister side, too, you know. As my colleague Tiffany Ng has argued in her doctoral dissertation, in cultural representations bells have been associated with utopias and dystopias—death, decay, and all the rest of it. And we don’t even have to look at cultural representations—we can just look at the macabre … Continue reading Buried Alive, with Bells

The Bell of the Great Chicago Fire II

Thanks, B.D., for passing along these dramatic details about the Great Chicago Fire and the courthouse bell! Donald L. Miller, author of City of the Century: The Epic of Chicago and the Making of America, explains the particulars. He does it so well, no need for me to paraphrase. Note the name of the watchman/bell … Continue reading The Bell of the Great Chicago Fire II

The Bell of the Great Chicago Fire

orange flame selective focus photography

Dear loyal readers, I have a scrumptious treat to share with you! We don’t know much about Henry Rincker, Chicago's own bell founder, and his metallurgical output in the mid-nineteenth century, but we know he did cast a bell for the combined courthouse and city hall. This government building, constructed in 1853, was destroyed in … Continue reading The Bell of the Great Chicago Fire