More about carillons
and other tower bell instruments

This is the introduction to (or top page of) a very large collection of pages that provide more detailed information about specific sites.  (That means tower bell sites, not Web sites, which we refer to as Websites.)  There is also much closely related or supporting information on topics such as bellfoundries, great bells, etc.

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For quick reference:
NEW Jan.2020: You now have a choice of six worldwide mapping services and two regional mapping services.
Click here for more information, and to select your preferred mapping service(s).
Find instruments geographically: Find instruments by type:
Via indexes of all types for all instruments made of conventional, unconventional or tubular tower bells: Via regional locator map set:
  • All instruments  made of conventional, unconventional or tubular tower bells,
    as well as independent great bells
Conventional and unconventional tower bells: Tubular tower chimes:
Find instruments containing the work of a particular bellfounder
Search the entire TowerBells Website for any word, phrase or name

A complete Table of Contents for this collection appears further down on this page, after the following paragraphs about just what you can find here.

Introduction to the Data section

The tower bell instruments which have the greatest musical capabilities are carillons.  They are the focus of the World Carillon Federation (WCF) and its component national or regional societies (such as The Guild of Carillonneurs in North America - GCNA), and they are the subject of by far the most important part of this Website.  To enable our visitors to locate any carillon site in several different ways, we provide a variety of indexes and maps for North America and for the rest of the world.  These indexes and maps all point into a set of Web pages, one per site, which present useful information (data) in a standard format.  Each site data page also provides links to other places on the Web where information about that instrument can be found, when such are known to exist.

NOTE:  The WCF Website has a list of carillons worldwide, and the Websites of some of its component societies have lists of the carillons in their respective areas.  Each such list is useful in its own way, so we advise that you become acquainted with whatever is in your area of interest.  (You can find them all through the WCF Website - see "Organization.")  Some of those lists are quite detailed, and when they have an individual page for each instrument, we provide links from our pages to theirs.

For the sake of inclusiveness, and to help dispel confusion about what a carillon is, we provide similar indexes, maps and pages about non-traditional carillons, both for North America and for the rest of the world.  (Some of these instruments can potentially be upgraded by the addition of traditional playing mechanisms.)

In recognition that a number of traditional carillons in North America and in Europe are either enlargements of or replacements for chimes, we provide similar indexes, maps and pages for all chimes in North America and most chimes in the rest of the world, regardless of the type of playing mechanism used.  To support the North American Guild of Change Ringers (NAGCR) and other change-ringing societies outside of the British Isles, we provide similar indexes, maps and pages for rings of bells, i.e., chime-sized sets of tower bells hung for change-ringing, in those areas.  To clarify a major difference in nomenclature between chimes and rings, we provide a page on notation for chimes and rings.

To tie together these various North American indexes, there is a single combined index to all kinds of existing conventional tower bell instruments in North America by state/province.  An alternate combined index arranged by bellfoundry omits the great number of chimes made entirely by a single American bellfoundry (to save space).  There are similar combined indexes for each continent or campanologically important country in the rest of the world.

Since North America has the majority of the world's tubular tower chimes, made of a material similar to that of conventional bells, we provide similar indexes for these instruments worldwide (excepting the British Isles), and a similar locator map set.  For completeness, the conventional combined index and the tubular state/province index are merged into a general North American index by state/province, as well as a matching locator map set

Some instruments have moved from their original locations, while others no longer exist.  A list of sites that are no more identifies these places, and tells what happened to each one of the instruments.  Similarly, some instruments have been down-sized or have lost some capabilities; a list of degraded sites identifies these places, and tells what happened to each of the instruments.  There is a separate list of tubular tower chimes that are no more.

Statistical information is presented in various summaries which show the numbers of tower bell instruments in various categories for each of the regions of the world.  Regional summaries and type-specific summaries are also accessible from the various list-of-indexes pages.

Of related interest are various collections of tower bells, some of which are also museums - sometimes bellfoundry museums.

The historical significance of various installations is outlined in a set of milestones in history.

Most site data pages have a locator map to make it easy to find the place where that set of bells is installed.  Some have more than one, because several different online mapping services have been used from time to time; therefore what was originally a simple Help page for those locator maps has evolved into a complex set of map usage hints, though that is becoming obsolete as a new system gradually replaces the old.

The regional locator maps mentioned above are a specialized form of geographical index, and have their own Help page.  There is also an expanded description and explanation of the two map systems (site locator and regional locator).

We provide a list of bellfoundries around the world, both past and present (though it is far from comprehensive).  For each one, there is an index page to their work on carillons, chimes and great bells.  (Other bellfoundries are not listed.)  For most of them, that index page also includes some information on the history of the foundry.  For those which are currently in operation, the index page always includes information on how to contact them (and their North American representatives, if any).  We intend eventually to provide a list of carillon builders and maintainers (i.e., non-bellfounders) around the world, including information on how to contact them. 

There is a limited glossary of bell-related words to help you understand how those words are used in these pages (and elsewhere).

Finally, since many of the heaviest bells in the world are the basses of the largest carillons, we present some lists of great bells and some general information about bell weights.

We do not provide information about any of the various kinds of electronic devices that purport to imitate the sound of bells, even when they include the word "carillon" in their names.  However, we realize that you may run across such places while surfing the Web, and we want to help you avoid confusion about what they are.  Therefore, we do provide a list of such places that have come to our attention (but without links).

Although this Website is designed to give you ready access to specific data on every individual tower bell instrument which meets our listing criteria, we realize that a few of our visitors may have a need for a compact printout (or hardcopy) listing all of the tower bell sites that fit a certain set of criteria.  We provide that in two ways:

Both of these types of hardcopy originate from the same database that is used to produce the site data pages and indexes which you can find here.  They include additional types of technical information which are not included in these Webpages.  See our hardcopy page for more information.  You will also find there some of the history of this database and its earlier appearances in various print publications.

The same printout service is used to provide an expression of our thanks when you send us useful feedback to improve the contents of the database of tower bell sites.

The complexities of encoding and displaying the various characters that are used for native names in different languages are explained in a page about Characters.

Those who are technologically curious can read an explanation of how this Website is maintained.

Table of Contents

Here are all of the links presented in, or implied by, the Introduction above, grouped together for convenience:

If you used the first link after the quick reference table at the top of this page to get to this Table of Contents, then you can add this link to your hotlist (or set a bookmark) in your browser now.  (If you didn't, then use the one in the previous sentence!)  This will make it easy for you to keep just this one item on your hotlist (or among your bookmarks) and still reach quickly any page in this Data section which you want to revisit later.

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This page was created on 1996/12/10 and last revised on 2022/10/28.

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