Reviving bells across the United States

Do you know the three main characteristics of North American tower bells that help bind together the community within its aural reach? No? Well I don’t either. Fortunately, the folks at Community Bell Advocates, LLC do.

A photo of the bell tower at The Most Blessed Sacrament Church in Franklin Lakes, NJ. Recently, all but the tower was destroyed by fire.

Bells that bind together

First, they function as sonic analogues to public art; they provide public music, or at least pleasing tones, for an incidental audience for free. Second, bell sounds function as soundmarks, to use the term coined by R. Murray Schafer, the progenitor of soundscape studies. The sounds provide information (the time) and aurally define a neighborhood and its boundaries, distinguishing it among others and providing a common touchstone for its residents. Lastly, bells connect listeners to their shared histories and values. Bells recall Christian values and also secular values of collaboration and promotion of the common welfare, since for centuries their sounds regulated sacred and secular life in Europe. In the United States, the Liberty Bell became a symbol of the abolitionist movement in the 19th century, and in the mid-20th century, Civil Rights leaders described bells ringing for liberty to depict the longed-for future. 

You can learn even more about tower bells by reading the full article here.

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