One of the earliest instruments created, the metal of the bell produces sound when
struck by a hammer, clapper, pellet or suspended ball. The pitch of the bell is determined by the size of the bell and its thickness, bigger making the sound lower. Bells are commonly made from metal, but even ceramic and glass bells can be found.
Another bell that is common to western music is the cowbell, which is a musical adaptation of the design used to locate cattle in the distance. Cuban music uses a cowbell called the cencerro. Bell choirs ring their handbells in an appropriate pattern to produce music that is familiar to us all, especially around the Christmas season.
By arranging bells on a rack to make a scale, bell chimes are built. These instruments are popular in Eastern music. In Java, gongs are arranged to make chimes called bonangs.
The crisp sound of the bell delights the human ear around the world. Its delicate ring adds a note of delight to music in every culture.
Hear a Bell