Enrolled piano students have the opportunity to take carillon lessons as secondary study. The course is offered at the undergraduate (MUS 11K4) and graduate (MUS 51K4) levels. The course is taught by University Carrilloneur Lynnette Geary.
The McLane Carillon in the tower of Pat Neff Hall is a gift of the Drayton McLane family and the McLane Company, Inc., of Temple, Texas. Dedicated on November 4, 1988, the instrument was built by the Paccard Bell Foundry of Annecy, France. The weight of the bells ranges from 29 pounds to 4,370 pounds, with a total weight of over 22 tons.
The 48 bells of the McLane Carillon provide a compass of four octaves and place it among the fewer than two hundred carillons on the entire North American continent with a range of four octaves or more. The lower two octaves of bells also have electrically activated clappers controlled by a computer. These are used for the Westminster chimes, which strike the hour, and for melodies played at regular intervals throughout the day.
A carillon (pronounced CARE-uh-lahn) is a musical instrument of at least 23 cast bronze bells, arranged in chromatic series and tuned to produce harmony when many bells are sounded together. It is played from a mechanical keyboard - or clavier - with a pedalboard. Carillonneurs use closed hands and both feet when playing, sending clappers to the bells by striking dowel-like keys. Expressive playing is made possible through a mechanical wire linkage between the key and the clapper.
Carillon bells are hung stationary. Only the clappers move to strike inside the bells - an average of one inch. Dimensions of a bell’s profile - both inside and out - determine the pitches of both the fundamental tones and overtones which are tuned into the bell and form the bell’s characteristic sound.
Carillons originated in Belgium, Holland, and northern France during the 15th century. The growth of carillons in North America began in the 1920s with installations in Albany, New York, City Hall and Our Lady of Good Voyage Church in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Except for a break during World War II, the number of new carillon installations and enlargements continues to accelerate throughout the United States.