Fork Bells


You can make a nice cowbell-like instrument as follows: find some fairly thin-walled metal pipe of about 2” or 3” in diameter, and cut it to a length of between about 4” and 8”. Use a vise to squash one end completely flat, while the other end remains open. The two Fork Bell sets shown here consist of mounted arrays of bells made in this way, but with the added characteristic that the bells are forked — that is, slits are cut in the sides extending in from the open end. The forking makes several more modes of vibration possible, adding to the complexity of the tone. Tuning the forked bells is not so much a matter of tuning to a particular note, because given their multiple modes of vibration there are many prominent tones within each bell. Rather, tuning is a matter of adjusting any of several variables to arrive at an overall tone, blending the many modes, that feels coherent and attractive. Ideally, too, you can tune so that the several bells within the set bear coherent and attractive relationships to one another.

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