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Federation Bells (Birrarung Marr) (2002 - )

Field of Bells
Go to Gallery Page Federation Bells (Birrarung Marr)
Related EntriesPublished ResourcesAudio Visual Gallery
Computer-Controlled Installation, Outdoor Installation, Instrument, Permanent Installation, Sound Sculpture and Interactive Installation
Location: Birrarung Marr, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Designed by Neil McLachlan and Anton Hassell

URL: The home page for this entity is located at http://www.ausbell.com/Federation%20Bells/FEDBELLS.html
Additional Information
Text from Ausbell website:

The use of large round mouthed temple bells spread across Asia with the movement of Buddhism from Northern India around 600BC. These bells evolved into quite culture specific shapes and sounds in various parts of Asia and across the European continent. While there is evidence of shared influences in Asian bell traditions to this day, the European and Asian traditions have remained separate for almost a millennium. With the use of very recent computer modelling of vibration we can better understand the relationships between physical shapes and the sounds they emit. Our project is unique in that we seek to bridge between these ancient traditions, and in so doing use the most advanced technology and acoustic knowledge currently available to reinvent the bell. To produce bells which are uniquely Australian and reflective of a community in which Asian and European cultural traditions co-exist and merge.

The installation is a set of musical bells like a carillon, but dispersed across a small field rather than hidden in a tower. Our primary impetus is that the bells are also sculptural forms to be seen and approached. Being able to see the different shapes and hear how they sound is fundamental to the aural/visual aesthetic of the project and the underlying concept of integrating the various traditional bell forms. Naturally the bells sound very different when you are standing in the middle of the installation to when you are 100 metres away at the edge of the park.

The installation is a public musical instrument. The bells are struck by computer controlled hammers programmed to play MIDI compositions. On a daily basis (8.00 am and 5.00 pm) sequences composed for the bells by 7 Australian composers play, allowing people to wander amongst the bells for an exhilarating experience or sit nearby and enjoy their clear and gentle musicality. While bells were once amongst the loudest sounds people would normally hear, they are now often drowned out by traffic and amplified music. These bells can usually be heard within about 100 metres in the relatively quiet riverside park. The sequencing of the bells uses standard musical software and the bell sounds can be downloaded from this site, allowing composers from anywhere in the world to write works for the bells and send them as MIDI files over the internet for performance.

The installation was designed in collaboration with Swanney Draper Architects in Melbourne, Australia. The plan shown below has been adapted from the installation plan designed by Swanney Draper in collaboration with Australian Bell.

Related Entries for Federation Bells (Birrarung Marr)


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Published Resources

Conference Papers

  • Hasell, Anton and Neil McLachlan, 'The Secular Bell', in Acoustic Ecology: An International Symposium, World Forum for Acoustic Ecology, Melbourne, 19-23 March, 2003. [ Details... ]


  • Hasell, Anton Glenn, 'The Secular Sonorous Site: New Technology in Multi-sensory Public Art', Thesis, Faculty of the Constructed Environment, School of Architecture and Design, RMIT, 2002. [ Details... ]

Web pages

Prepared by: Iain Mott
Created: 16 June 2003
Modified: 30 June 2006

Published by The University of Melbourne
Comments, questions, corrections and additions: i.mott@unimelb.edu.au
Prepared by: Acknowledgements
Updated: 18 January 2007

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