Most carillons are fixed in bell towers, but Chime Masters makes a mobile carillon, used here to play a lovely Beatles cover.
Joey Brink, the musician shown above, is the University of Chicago's resident carillonneur. He was recently interviewed about his unusual instrument and choices of playlists:
You’ve chosen to play a lot of nontraditional carillon music. Why is that?
I really enjoy pop music and film music. Some of my favorite things to play on the carillon are Disney songs from Pocahontas, Beauty and the Beast, Mulan. Those songs work so well on bells—the melodies and the harmonies. So that was just personal taste. And I do really like taking requests from the community. People can submit requests online, and I keep a close eye on those. I also like to play contemporary music written for carillon, as well as classical music arranged for the carillon. I think playing a variety of music is the most fun for me and also best for the community.
What makes a piece of music work well for carillon?
Anything that has a clear melody that you can sing or whistle will work on the carillon. If the music doesn’t have much of a melody, like a rap or R&B song that requires a lot of percussive hits, it’s not going to work quite as well—though something like “Hotline Bling” was doable. I can’t sustain a note like a singer could, so a slow, dramatic Céline Dion epic is not going to work all that well. Alternatively, if it’s too fast and really rhythmic and arpeggiated, that often doesn’t work either. Disney songs tend to be right in that sweet spot.
• "With A Little Help From My Friends" by The Beatles on Carillon (YouTube / Joey Brink)
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