From Academic Kids

The  in Arlington, Virginia, USA
The Netherlands Carillon in Arlington, Virginia, USA

A carillon is a keyboard percussion instrument composed of a range of bells controlled by a keyboard. Carillons are normally housed in towers and are among the largest musical instruments in the world.

Carillons originated in the 15th century in Flanders, when bell-makers perfected their art to the point where bells could be cast with an exact tone. The greatest concentration of antique carillons is still found in Belgium, the Netherlands, and the northern regions of France, Germany and Poland, where they were commonly put in place by rich market towns as tokens of civic pride and status.

They were most often housed in church towers, clock towers, or on municipal buildings, and the same holds true for those carillons that have been installed in other parts of the world since the art of casting precisely tuned bells was rediscovered in the late 19th century. In Germany, such a carillon is also called a glockenspiel.

Since each separate note is produced by an individual bell, a carillon's musical range is determined by the number of bells it has. With fewer than 23 (two octaves), the instrument is considered a chime, not a true carillon. Average instruments have ranges of around four and a half octaves (47 bells), while the largest specimens, with as many as 77, can span six octaves. In comparison, standard grand pianos can play 88 different notes.

Missing image
Carillon bells

Seated in a cabin beneath the bells, the carillonneur presses down, with a cupped hand or fist, on a series of baton-like keys arranged in the same pattern as a piano keyboard. The keys activate levers and wires that connect directly to the bells' clappers; thus, as with a piano, the carillonneur can vary the intensity of the note according to the force applied to the key. In addition to the manual keys, the heavier bells are also connected to a series of pedals, offering the carillonneur a choice of two ways of playing the lower notes.


Noted carillons

Missing image
A carillon keyboard

Noted carillons can be found in the following locations:

The Americas


Template:Web reference


  • Mexico City, D.F.: The Banobras Carillon. A 47-bell instrument in the world's tallest carillon tower (125 m), which is part of a Mexican government development bank office complex in the Tlatelolco neighbourhood.

United States




  • Douai: carillon of 62 bells
  • Pamiers: carillon ( of 49 bells in Cathdrale St.-Antonin, played by students of the local music school (webpage in French).


  • Utrecht: 50 bells in the Domtower. [10] (


  • Mafra: In royal palace (2 carillons = 114 bells)
  • Oporto: Tower of Clerigos (carillon of 49 bells)
  • Leiria: Tower of cathedral (carillon of 23 bells more a old game of 8 bells)
  • Alverca: Church (carillon of 72 bells)

United Kingdom



Missing image

Also of note

  • Frank DellaPenna, founder of Cast in Bronze (, is a notable carillon performer. His 35-bell instrument is particularly rare in that it is one of the very few travelling carillons that exist in the world.

External links

eo:Kariljono fr:Carillon ja:カリヨン nl:Beiaard pl:Carillon ru:Карильон


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools