Thursday, 10 October 2013

Tower Music

You can hear them here. In the summer, when the doors and windows are thrown open and the carillonneur is playing in his windy, stone tower, I hear these bells while I am at work. I do long to sit and quietly listen, but instead there are many tiny tasks and conversations and  lots of running up and down. Happily though, a few weeks ago, we climbed old wooden steps up into the tower so we could watch the bells as well as listen. It was the last carillon music of the summer.

The tower was full of sweet breezes and the feeling of joy that tall, safe places hold, especially on gently windswept days. Beneath our feet, the carillonneur sat in front of what looked like an organ with sticks coming out of it instead of keys. He used closed fists to hit the sticks, which tugged wires running up through the the floor between him and us, and pulled the clappers to sound the bells.

Sometimes there were the high, sweet rushes of the smaller bells, and other times the tunes turned eerie, low, and minor-keyed, sinister and delightful in the way only bells can be.

The largest bell tolls to announce the hour. In the winter, when the tower is only for ragged winds and icy bronze, a machine counts the minutes on old wheels and gears, and pulls the wires to ring the hours all alone. But on Christmas Eve, passing in the dark, I have heard someone playing up there in the lonesome cold.

The ringing shook inside and through us as we stood and watched until just before the end. Then we wound down the tower staircases, out through the mute stained-glass glow of the church, and through the old graves that sit like stone tables in the kirkyard. And the music followed us, unending.


  1. Jodi, this is so beautiful. So many images in your words that they stand alone, sounding out their own music. Many thanks.

    1. total agreement... the photos, too, are wonderful. and i can't help but wonder (after all that musicophilia) what sort of strange, unexplainable effect the vibrations of the bells could have as you continue your evening...
      what a piece of magic you have offered here. thank you!

  2. a very ethereal post, these singing bells. very nice.