When you see a church bell tower and just a bell tower by itself you may first think of the Hunch Back of Notre Dame. The Hunch Back of Notre Dame tugged on ropes that hung from the various bells. More often, though, when you hear melodic bells from a bell tower it is the result of playing the Campanile or Carillon instrument. In the case of the University of Alabama the bells (25) are called the Denny Chimes in honor of George H. Denny the University's President from 1912 to 1936. The Carillon instrument is located within the bell tower. The Carillon looks like an organ or piano, except instead of keys you have wooden pegs that stick out and are about 2 inches apart. There are wooden foot pedals similar to that of an organ. Large bell towers can contain around 60 bells of varying sizes. The Carillon instrument originated in the Netherlands. You can find Carillon instruments in church towers and on college campuses. The University of Michigan, for example, has two impressive bell towers. Students at the University of Michigan can take a private lesson course for credit and play the bell tower weekly. In fact, I was one of those students! How do you play the carillon? You keep your hands in fists and strike the wooden pegs with the bottom of your fists. The carillon responds similar to a piano in that the harder you hit the peg, the louder the sound. A quick strike can let you hit with staccato.
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