BASIC COMPOSITIONAL ELEMENTS OF THE BELL PROJECTS

BY PATRICK HAZELL                                                                          GO TO BELL PROJECT MAIN PAGE    HOME

The many times I have toured in Germany I have always looked forward to the bell ringing which seemed to happen every day, but at different times---sometimes in the morning, sometimes afternoon or evening. Germany doesn't have the variety of churches there are in the United States, so usually there was only one church in the central area of the town having its bell or bells rung for a good half hour or more almost every day. I have always looked forward to sitting in a park, or lounge in my open-windowed hotel room quietly listening to the bells while taking in the life around me.

When back home in my native state of Iowa, my desire to hear big bells ring motivated me to produce the first Bell Project in Burlington, Iowa, where the bells are never rung for any lengthy period of time. Inspired by my experiences in Europe I then developed my compositional techniques in order to accommodate the number of bells in the various churches and buildings participating in my Bell Projects.

There are many aspects to the Bell Projects that go far beyond my simple desire to hear the bells ring. As part of a musical composition I try to give each bell its time to sound alone and in different combinations with the other bells. I also want to present a texture of rhythmic and tonal interplay that changes through the performance---as opposed to simply having all the bells ring all the time. Even when they do all ring together, I have some of them rung with different timed cadences to allow more rhythmic variation. Elements of my compositions come from listening to the rhythms of insect sounds and how the whole sound of the many varieties of insects chirping in various rhythms becomes a creation in which an overall bigger cycle of synergetic rhythm is finally established. Perhaps one could call it a Universal Rhythm, or maybe even the Music of the Spheres. This is the most important goal of my musical pursuits--the feeling of being a part of this larger sense of Music.

I hope that the Bell Projects engender in the listener a reflection and meditation, and, perhaps, the feeling of respect and acceptance-a love---for the environment with all its landmarks and living beings existing within this continuum of sound marked by the rhythm of the bells.