Tubular bell

Tubular bell
Tubular bells
Other names Chimes
Classification Percussion instrument
Playing range

Tubular bells (also known as chimes) are musical instruments in the percussion family. Each bell is a metal tube, 30–38 mm (1¼–1½ inches) in diameter, tuned by altering its length. Its standard range is from C4-F5, though many professional instruments reach G5 (see photo). Tubular bells are often replaced by studio chimes, which are a smaller and usually less expensive instrument. Studio chimes are similar in appearance to tubular bells, but each bell has a smaller diameter than the corresponding bell on tubular bells.

Tubular bells are sometimes struck on the top edge of the tube with a rawhide- or plastic-headed hammer. Often, a sustain pedal will be attached to allow extended ringing of the bells. They can also be bowed at the bottom of the tube to produce a very loud, very high-pitched overtone.

Tubular bells have been popularized in western culture by the song "Carol of the Bells", and the Mike Oldfield album Tubular Bells and its sequels, the latter best known as the opening theme from The Exorcist.

The tubes used provide a purer tone than solid cylindrical chimes, such as those on a mark tree.

The animated television series Futurama's theme is played on tubular bells. The "funding for this program provided by ..." rider that followed the end credits of the children's television show Sesame Street also prominently featured tubular bells in the 1980s.

Chimes are often used in concert band pieces (e.g. "Eiger" by James Swearingen). Most composers write Chimes under the category of Percussion > Mallet Percussion. It rarely plays melody, mostly a bass that brings out some color but sometimes has some solos or solis, often very simple.

As church bells

An example of tubular bells used as church bells is St. Alban's Anglican Church in Copenhagen.[1]


  1. ^ "About the Church". St. Alben's Church. http://www.st-albans.dk/about-us/about-the-church/. Retrieved 2010-02-26. 

External links

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