History of Handbells
Handbell music originates from the church tower bells in the United Kingdom which has more than 100 years of history. In order to facilitate the arrangement of tower bell music, handbells were created. As an instrument with unique playing techniques, handbell ringing soon became an avant-garde performing arts. A handbell set is a combination of individual bells of different pitch and each bell resembles an enlarged piano key. We can easily associate the tintinnabulation of Handbell with the festive moods of Christmas.
Introduction of Handbell
The first tuned handbells were developed by brothers Robert and William Cor in Aldourne, Wiltshire, England, between 1696 and 1724. The Cor brothers originally made latten bells for hame boxes, but for reasons unknown, they began tuning their bells more finely to have an accurate fundamental tone, and fitted them with hinged clappers that moved only in one plane.
The existing range of handbells nowadays is seven and a half octaves, from G1 to C9. People appreciate the heavenly sound of handbells almost immediately after hearing it for the first time. Different handbell ringing techniques produce sounds of a different tone quality, it includes ring; thumb damping; pluck; martellato and shake, etc.
Handbell is a transposed instrument. The music is written one octave lower than the actual sound the bells make, so a “middle C bell” or bell is actually playing a note with a high C frequency.
It is suitable for students aged 10 or above.
Introduction of Handchime
Handchimes are musical instruments which are rung by hand, similar to handbells. Typically, they are tuned square tubes with an external clapper mechanism. Handchimes produce a mellow tone, it requires narrower techniques than handbells, some are more difficult (such as six-in-hand) or impossible (malleting).
Handchimes are mainly used with educational purpose. They were originally intended to be used as a training tool for prospective handbell ringers, handchimes are cheaper, easier, lighter and more resilient than handbells, making them more accessible for children aged over 6, church youth choirs and fundamental groups.
Introduction of Belleplates
Belleplates are invented by Maurice Davies, it is the sub-family of handbell. Consisting of a handle attached to a trapezoidal aluminum plate, struck by an attached hammer, they are something of a combination of handbells and handchimes.They are played with the same basic methods as handbells by ringers.
The instrument is not used a professional concert, it fills a gap in the market for a cheap, durable and lightweight handbell type instrument. It is even cheaper than handchimes, due to these qualities they have been used preferentially to handbells in kindergarden and with elderly or disabled musicians.