Learn how chimes are made, how they're played, and a fun fact.
Chimes, also known as tubular bells, are a member of the percussion family. Unlike most percussion instruments, they produce a pitch when struck.
How It's Played
Chimes are played by striking the top edge of the metal tube with a rawhide or plastic hammer. The player may control the length of the ringing with the damper pedal.
How It's Made
Chimes begin in a metal shop where 1.5" diameter brass tubes are cut in various lengths. The longer tubes play the lower notes while shorter tubes play the higher notes. After the tubes are carefully tuned, they are arranged like a piano keyboard, from largest to smallest, and suspended vertically from a large frame. Dampers and a damper pedal are then added to control how long the chime tubes will ring.
The Percussion Family
Chimes are a member of the percussion family. The percussion family includes the timpani, snare drum, bass drum, xylophone, glockenspiel, chimes, gong, cymbals, and many smaller percussion instruments.
In 1950, NBC filed with the U. S. Patent Office to make their three note chime tune a registered audible service mark. It was the first time a 'tune' was filed with that office. The NBC chime tune was discontinued in 1971, and then returned in 1976 on the anniversary of the network's 50th year in broadcasting.