Music Glossary

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Provided here are explanations of musical terms used in the context of bell ringing using Chime Master products.


An arrangement is a hymn melody that has been specially reconceptualized for a pleasing performance on a chime or carillon of a particular voicing and scope. This may include some stylistic variations between verses for variety. Choices of harmony notes, when used, are made with respect to the timbre and harmonic decay times of the bells.

SATB voicings found in hymnals never sound good on bells and modern church musicians rarely play them as such on other instruments, but rather improvise an accompaniment using the harmonic structure of the hymn.

Since many chimes are capable of playing in only a few keys, the original tune must be transposed to fit the chime. Also a chime may be missing semitones needed to accurately play the original melody. A decision has to be made to attempt it with changes to the melody, or that it will not be available on less than a given scope of instrument.

Chime Master libraries are always assembled with appropriate arrangement for the scope of the bells we are automating, and with respect to the tradition of the venue.


Chromatic refers to structures derived from the chromatic scale, which consists of all semitones. Every available note is a half-tone interval apart.


The simplest definition (not totally accurate) generally given is that the white keys on a keyboard are the diatonics.

Diatonics are the predominate note scales used in modern Western music. Modern performers (especially in most forms of popular music today) have a tendency to conform their music into these scales. The eight diatonic notes of an octave in the key of C major indeed correspond to the white notes of a piano or organ keyboard from one C to the next C.

The interval relationship between adjacent notes in diatonic scales can be either a whole tone (full step) or a semitone (half step). The determination of which notes in the scale sequence have these relationships give rise to modes.

These modes within diatonic music are named after the classical Greek modes, though they no longer represent the same scales - Ionian (Mode 1, white keys from C to C), Dorian (Mode 2, from D), Phrygian (Mode 3 from E), Lydian (from F), Mixolydian (from G), Aeolian (from A), Locrian (from B). Each mode has a different, distinctive sound, that may evoke different moods.


A song of praise or prayer directed to God is formally known as a hymn. Collections of hymns in books are known as hymnals. So called gospel music used in many Christian churches containing instructional or testimonial themes are often called hymns and are found in modern books of worship.


In music, interval is the distance measurement between two notes or pitches . If you simply count the number of notes in an interval (not steps) you can figure out its numerical size; remember that the first and last note must be counted. For example, from C to E we have a "third interval." However, not all intervals with the same numerical classification are created equal. Based on the exact number of steps between the two notes (whole and half), we can further define the interval. For instance, the interval between both a C and D and an E and F are "second intervals" however, there is a whole step between the C and D while there is only a half step between the E and F. Therefore, you can further define intervals by Diminished, Minor, Major and Augmented.


When multiple pure tones are combined, the result is called harmony when it pleases the ear. The individuals come together in a way that 'gets along' or literally from the Greek: 'fit together.' When the tones do not get along, we call the result discordance.


Pronounce as tamber. Timbre is the result of the interplay of various factors that give a note played on various instruments their particular and generally recognizable voice. You hear a note on a piano, bell or violin and recognized the instrument because of its familiar timbre. Experienced ears can hear the difference between manufacturers and luthiers of fine instruments. See our article on bell harmonics to begin to understand what makes a bell sound like a bell and also note differences between bell foundries.