A Parsifal bell (German: Glockenklavier, "bell piano") is a stringed musical instrument designed as a substitute for the church bells that are called for in the score of Richard Wagner's opera Parsifal .
The instrument was designed by Felix Mottl, a conductor of Wagner's works, and constructed by Schweisgut, of Karlsruhe, Germany.
It is constructed on the principle of the grand piano. A massive frame is shaped like a snooker table. The instrument has five notes; each note has six strings (three are tuned to the fundamental pitch, and three an octave higher). The strings are struck by large hammers, covered with cotton-wool, which the performer sets in motion by a strong elastic blow from their fist,similar to the motion of playing a carillon.
The hammers are attached to arms 22 inches (56 cm) long, which are screwed to a strong wooden span bridge placed horizontally above the strings at about two-fifths of the length from the front. On the point of the arm is the name of the note, and behind this the felt ledge struck by the fist. Two belly bridges and two wrest-plank bridges, one set for each octave, determine the vibrating length of the strings, and the belly bridge, as in other stringed instruments, is the medium through which the vibrations of the strings are communicated to the soundboard. The arrangement of pegs and wrest-pins is much the same as on the piano.
Difficulties arise whenever a composer writes a piece for orchestra in which he calls for reproducing the effect of church bells. Well-known examples include 1812 Overture , The Golden Legend , Cavalleria Rusticana , Pagliacci , Rienzi , and Parsifal . The most serious difficulty of all arose in Parsifal, where the bells are called for in an extremely solemn scene with deep religious significance. If real church bells were used for the notes Wagner wrote, they would overpower the orchestra and ruin the solemn atmosphere on the stage.
Various substitutes for bells were tried in vain, but no other instrument gave a tone similar to that of church bells. This is because a bell sound consists of rich harmonics composing the clang, plus two distinct simultaneous notes, first the tap tone, which gives the pitch, and the hum tone or lower accompanying note. The dignity and beauty of the bell tone depend on the interval separating the hum from the tap tone.
A stringed instrument, similar to the Parsifal bell but having only four notes, was used at Bayreuth for the first performance of Parsifal in 1882, where it was combined with tam-tams or gongs in an attempt to replicate the sound of a church bell. The instrument was built by the Bayreuth-based pianoforte manufacturer Steingraeber & Söhne. After many trials the following combination was adopted as the best makeshift:
In most orchestral music, tubular bells are used when a bell sound is called for.[ citation needed ] In another special case, a special peal of hemispherical bells was constructed for use in performances of Sir Arthur Sullivan's cantata, The Golden Legend . Struck with mallets, they produced both tap and hum tone. But Parsifal presented a particular problem because the lowest of the Golden Legend bells was a minor tenth higher than the lowest note required for Parsifal, and the aggregate weight of the four bells was thousands of pounds.[ citation needed ]
Modern productions of Parsifal typically use a synthesized, or electronically recorded, church bell sound.[ citation needed ]
The hammered dulcimer is a percussion-stringed instrument which consists of strings typically stretched over a trapezoidal resonant sound board. The hammered dulcimer is set before the musician, who in more traditional styles may sit cross-legged on the floor, or in a more modern style may stand or sit at a wooden support with legs. The player holds a small spoon-shaped mallet hammer in each hand to strike the strings. The Graeco-Roman dulcimer derives from the Latin dulcis (sweet) and the Greek melos (song). The dulcimer, in which the strings are beaten with small hammers, originated from the psaltery, in which the strings are plucked.
A harpsichord is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. This activates a row of levers that turn a trigger mechanism that plucks one or more strings with a small plectrum made from quill or plastic. The strings are under tension on a soundboard, which is mounted in a wooden case; the soundboard amplifies the vibrations from the strings so that the listeners can hear it. Like a pipe organ, a harpsichord may have more than one keyboard manual, and even a pedal board. Harpsichords may also have stop buttons which add or remove additional octaves. Some harpsichords may have a buff stop, which brings a strip of buff leather or other material in contact with the strings, muting their sound to simulate the sound of a plucked lute.
A harmonic series is the sequence of harmonics, musical tones, or pure tones whose frequency is an integer multiple of a fundamental frequency.
In music, there are two common meanings for tuning:
The piano is a stringed keyboard instrument in which the strings are struck by wooden hammers that are coated with a softer material. It is played using a keyboard, which is a row of keys that the performer presses down or strikes with the fingers and thumbs of both hands to cause the hammers to strike the strings. It was invented in Italy by Bartolomeo Cristofori around the year 1700.
A harmonic is a wave with a frequency that is a positive integer multiple of the fundamental frequency, the frequency of the original periodic signal, such as a sinusoidal wave. The original signal is also called the 1st harmonic, the other harmonics are known as higher harmonics. As all harmonics are periodic at the fundamental frequency, the sum of harmonics is also periodic at that frequency. The set of harmonics forms a harmonic series.
An overtone is any harmonic with frequency greater than the fundamental frequency of a sound. In other words, overtones are all pitches higher than the lowest pitch within an individual sound; the fundamental is the lowest pitch. While the fundamental is usually heard most prominently, overtones are actually present in any pitch except a true sine wave. The relative volume or amplitude of various overtone partials is one of the key identifying features of timbre, or the individual characteristic of a sound.
Orchestration is the study or practice of writing music for an orchestra or of adapting music composed for another medium for an orchestra. Also called "instrumentation", orchestration is the assignment of different instruments to play the different parts of a musical work. For example, a work for solo piano could be adapted and orchestrated so that an orchestra could perform the piece, or a concert band piece could be orchestrated for a symphony orchestra.
String instruments, stringed instruments, or chordophones are musical instruments that produce sound from vibrating strings when a performer plays or sounds the strings in some manner.
The crwth is a bowed lyre, a type of stringed instrument, associated particularly with Welsh music, now archaic but once widely played in Europe. Four historical examples have survived and are to be found in St Fagans National Museum of History (Cardiff); National Library of Wales (Aberystwyth); Warrington Museum & Art Gallery; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (US).
In music, inharmonicity is the degree to which the frequencies of overtones depart from whole multiples of the fundamental frequency.
Aliquot stringing is the use of extra, un-struck strings in the piano for the purpose of enriching the tone. Aliquot systems use an additional string in each note of the top three piano octaves. This string is positioned slightly above the other three strings so that it is not struck by the hammer. Whenever the hammer strikes the three conventional strings, the aliquot string vibrates sympathetically. Aliquot stringing broadens the vibrational energy throughout the instrument, and creates an unusually complex and colorful tone.
Piano tuning is the act of adjusting the tension of the strings of an acoustic piano so that the musical intervals between strings are in tune. The meaning of the term 'in tune', in the context of piano tuning, is not simply a particular fixed set of pitches. Fine piano tuning requires an assessment of the vibration interaction among notes, which is different for every piano, thus in practice requiring slightly different pitches from any theoretical standard. Pianos are usually tuned to a modified version of the system called equal temperament.
Chorus is an audio effect that occurs when individual sounds with approximately the same time, and very similar pitches, converge and are perceived as one. While similar sounds coming from multiple sources can occur naturally, as in the case of a choir or string orchestra, it can also be simulated using an electronic effects unit or signal processing device.
Each bass guitar tuning assigns pitches to the strings of an electric bass. Because pitches are associated with notes, bass-guitar tunings assign open notes to open strings. There are several techniques for accurately tuning the strings of an electric bass. Bass method or lesson books or videos introduce one or more tuning techniques, such as:
The 3rd bridge is an extended playing technique used on the electric guitar and other string instruments that allows a musician to produce distinctive timbres and overtones that are unavailable on a conventional string instrument with two bridges. The timbre created with this technique is close to that of gamelan instruments like the bonang and similar Indonesian types of pitched gongs.
A third bridge can be devised by inserting a rigid preparation object between the strings and the body or neck of the instrument, effectively diving the string into distinct vibrating segments.
Steingraeber & Söhne is a piano manufacturer in Bayreuth, Germany.
A tromba marina, marine trumpet or nuns' fiddle, is a triangular bowed string instrument used in medieval and Renaissance Europe that was highly popular in the 15th century in England and survived into the 18th century. The tromba marina consists of a body and neck in the shape of a truncated cone resting on a triangular base. It is usually four to seven feet long, and is a monochord. It is played without stopping the string, but playing natural harmonics by lightly touching the string with the thumb at nodal points. Its name comes from its trumpet like sound due to the unusual construction of the bridge, and the resemblance of its contour to the marine speaking-trumpet of the Middle Ages.
The strike tone, strike note, or tap note, of a percussion instrument when struck, is the dominant note perceived immediately by the human ear. It is also known as the prime or fundamental note. However, an analysis of the bell's frequency spectrum reveals that the fundamental only exists weakly and its dominance is a human perception of a note built up by the complex series of harmonics that are generated. The correct and accurate harmonic tuning is therefore important in creating a good strike tone.
Mechanical music technology is the use of any device, mechanism, machine or tool by a musician or composer to make or perform music; to compose, notate, play back or record songs or pieces; or to analyze or edit music. The earliest known applications of technology to music was prehistoric peoples' use of a tool to hand-drill holes in bones to make simple flutes. Ancient Egyptians developed stringed instruments, such as harps, lyres and lutes, which required making thin strings and some type of peg system for adjusting the pitch of the strings. Ancient Egyptians also used wind instruments such as double clarinets and percussion instruments such as cymbals. In Ancient Greece, instruments included the double-reed aulos and the lyre. Numerous instruments are referred to in the Bible, including the horn, pipe, lyre, harp, and bagpipe. During Biblical times, the cornet, flute, horn, organ, pipe, and trumpet were also used. During the Middle Ages, hand-written music notation was developed to write down the notes of religious Plainchant melodies; this notation enabled the Catholic church to disseminate the same chant melodies across its entire empire.