The choir performs mostly on 82 English handbells (6 1/2+ octaves) manufactured by Malmark, Inc., of Plumsteadville, Pennsylvania. Thehandbells are cast in bronze, an alloy of 80 percent copper and 20 percent tin. The bells range in weight from only a few ounces to more than 13 pounds. The space age polymer handles are black and white. A handbell sounds an octave higher in pitch than the corresponding note on the piano.
Malmark Basso Profundo® Aluminum Handbells
The lowest bells are cast of aluminum and range to (G2). Due to the material from which they are cast, each bell weighs a little more than half of its bronze counterpart of the same pitch. The fundamental sound produced by the overtones allows this section of bells to project further in the space.
Malmark Basso Profundo (G2, A2, B flat 2)
To add flavor to our music, Capital Carillon also uses Malmark Choirchimes®. Our set consists of 82 chimes (spanning 7 octaves). Each chime is extruded from aluminum and is power coated black or silver to resemble the black and white keys on the piano. A choirchime works much like a tuning fork; a clapper attached to the outside strikes the instrument and a mellow, organ-like sound is produced. This instrument is used when a change in mood or a special line within the music is needs to stand out.
Capital Carillon has the pleasure of performing on a 61 bell set (5 octaves) of Schulmerich handbells which are made in Sellersville, Pennsylvania. Schulmerich entered the field in 1962 with a 25 bell prototype set and is the oldest existing handbell manufacturer in the United States.
Capital Carillon also has the pleasure of using 61 Whitechapel bells (5 octaves). These very special handbells have been cast in the most famous bell foundry in the world. For the past two and a half centuries, Whitechapel has been an acknowledged leader in the production of musical handbells. Handbell ringing began in England about 300 years ago. Musical handbells, tuned in sets and fitted with leather straps, were introduced in the late 17th century and quickly became popular among tower bell ringers, not only for practicing change ringing, but also for playing simple tunes. In England, Whitechapel bells still can be found in most pubs. The art of tune ringing developed further in the 19th century.