BYU students are carrying on the tradition and purpose of the Centennial Carillon Tower.
On Oct. 10, 1975, the Centennial Carillon Tower was dedicated by President Spencer W. Kimball. The bell tower would become a symbol of the dedication and sacrifice of those who helped found BYU, according to the dedicatory article provided by Don Cook, assistant professor of music.
Every hour the bells ring out to welcome students on campus with renditions of “Come, Come Ye Saints,” said Lisa Glade, a graduate student studying organ performance. Glade is one of four carillonneurs, people who play the carillon.
The hymn students hear is not a recording.
“There is a mechanism for ‘Come, Come Ye Saints.’ It is not recorded on a tape, instead the carillon is programmed to play, by itself, an original version of the tune every hour,” Glade said.
The Centennial Carillon Tower consists of a practice room, a clavier room and a belfry. There are 52 bells that weigh a total of 26,695 pounds and play on a chromatic scale, according to dedicatory information provided by Cook. Cook oversees student carillonneurs of the Centennial Carillon Tower and plays the carillon.
“We practice on a carillon practice keyboard on the main level of the tower,” Glade said.
For recitals, carillonneurs play on the clavier.
“The clavier keyboard, which is the keyboard from which the bells are activated, consists of wooden sticks which are called batons,” Glade said. “When you press down on a baton, it pushes down on a wire which is connected to a clapper inside the bell. The wire causes the clapper inside the bell to swing and hit the side of the bell.”
“They don’t actually swing back and forth. It’s the clapper inside the bell which moves and causes the bell to ring,” she said. The carillonneur also uses foot pedals to ring the bells.
Carillonneurs do not play the baton-style keyboard in the same manner as a piano or an organ. Carillonneurs play the carillon with their fists, said Glade, who has been playing the carillon for two years.
“We have to play with our fists or else we would break our fingers because of the size and weight of the bells. We wouldn’t even be able to make a sound by just using our fingers,” she said.
Carillonneurs are also able to control the dynamics of the bells by how hard they press the batons, Glade said.
Sabin Levy, a graduate student studying organ and composition, is also a carillonneur of the university’s bell tower. Levy enjoys the challenge of the instrument and its uniqueness.
“It’s a different kind of instrument. It’s just not like anything else. The carillon is fun to play because it offers a whole new sphere of music performance,” said Levy, who’s been playing for seven months.
The students and Cook put on 20 to 30 minute recitals every day at noon, Glade said. The carillonneurs also play before and after Tuesday Devotionals and for special events, like Christmas concerts and parts of the Fourth of July Freedom Festival.
The type of music composed and played on the carillon includes original compositions, arrangements of hymns, folk songs and transcriptions of classical pieces.
“Music composed just for the carillon has been difficult to find,” Glade said.
Tove Gerhardsen/Daily Universe
RING OUT THE BELLS: Lisa Glade, a graduate student studying organ performance, demonstrates how to play the Centennial Carillon Tower’s practice keyboard. The practice keyboard has pipes that imitate the sound of bells