Wind Chimes

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What are Wind Chimes?

Wind chimes are chimes constructed from suspended tubes, rods, bells or other objects and are often made of metal or wood. Wind chimes are usually hung outside a building or residence, as a visual and aural garden ornament, and are to be played by the wind.

Bronze tintinnabulum, Roman, 1st century AD, British Museum.

Ancient Rome
Roman chimes called tintinnabulum were hung up in gardens and porticoes where they would make a tinkling sound as the wind passed through them. Bells were believed to keep off evil spirits, and so they were often combined with the phallus, which was also a symbol of good fortune and a charm against evil. The image shows one example with the main phallus portrayed with wings, and the feet and tail of an animal, perhaps a lion. These added to its protective powers.

Eastern and Western Asia
In India during the second century CE and later in China, extremely large pagodas became popular. At each corner, small wind bells were hung; the slightest breeze would swing the clapper and cause a melodious tinkling. It is said that these bells were originally intended to frighten away not only birds but also any lurking evil spirits. Wind bells are not limited to pagodas. They are also hung under the corners of roofs of temples, palaces, and homes. Japanese glass wind bells known as Fūrin (風鈴) have been produced since the Edo period, and those at Mizusawa Station are one of the 100 Soundscapes of Japan. Wind chimes are thought to be good luck in parts of Asia and are used in Feng Shui.

It was around 1100 B.C. after the Chinese started casting bells that the wind chime started to become modernized. A bell without a clapper called the yong-zhong was crafted by skilled metal artisans and was primarily used in religious ceremonies. Afterward, the Chinese created the feng-ling which is similar to today’s modern wind bell. The feng-lings were hung from shrines and pagodas to ward off evil spirits and attract benevolent ones. Today, wind chimes are common practice in the East and used to maximize the flow of chi or life’s energy.

Wind Cime Sounds and music

In instruments such as organ pipes, the pitch is determined primarily by the length of the air column, because it is the resonance of the air column that generates the sound. The pipe material helps determine the “timbre” or “voice” of the pipe, but the air column determines the pitch. In a wind chime, the vibrations of the pipe itself radiate the sound after being struck, and so the air column has little to do with the pitch being produced.

Sound can be produced when the tubes or rods come in contact with a suspended central clapper in the form of a ball or horizontal disk, or with each other.

Wind chimes may be used to observe changes in wind direction, depending on where they are hung when they commence sounding.

Wind Chime Materials

A close-up of metal rods on a wind chime
Wind chimes can be made of materials other than metal or wood and in shapes other than tubes or rods. Other wind chimes materials include glass, bamboo, shell, stone, and porcelain. More exotic items, such as silverware or cookie cutters, can also be recycled to create wind chimes. The selected material can have a large impact on the sound a wind chime produces. The sounds produced by recycling objects such as these are not tunable to specific notes and range from pleasant tinkling to dull thuds. The sounds produced by properly sized wind chime tubes are tunable to notes, as discussed in the external link below. As aluminum is the common metal with the lowest internal damping, wind chimes are often made from aluminum to achieve the longest and loudest sounding chime.

The tone will depend on factors such as the material, the exact alloy, heat treatment, and the use of a solid cylinder or a tube. If a tube is used, the wall thickness also has an impact on the tone. Tone may also depend on the hanging method. The tone quality will also depend on the material of the object that is used to hit the chimes.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]