Nothing evokes the sound of winter more than than ringing bells. There are countless songs and carols about silver bells, church bells, hand bells, and so on. In the United States, there is no better way to draw a listener in to a winter scene than to add some chiming bells. But what exactly is a jingle bell? Read on to find out!
Crotal bells, from the Greek word “crotalon”, meaning rattle, are a type of simple percussion instrument. They have been produced through a variety of methods. The most basic crotal bells can be made from a single sheet of metal, bent into a sphere with a rattler added inside. Another common method involves casting two hemispheres, then fusing them together, or casting the sphere whole. These simple instruments have been found around the world, including many Pre-Columbian cultures dating back to the Bronze Age.
In Europe, crotal bells have been used for centuries on horse-drawn carriages and sleighs for the purpose of pedestrian safety. The sleigh, which is essentially a platform mounted on skis, is particularly quiet when drawn on snow, and could pose a danger to unaware pedestrians or other drivers. A modern comparison would be the electric car, many of which produce artificial engine sounds.
It is easy to see how simple bells have become a staple of holiday music. Imagine a small village with a single street running through the center, suddenly enlivened by the ringing of bells after the first snow of the year. As sleighs and carriages were replaced by motorized vehicles, the need for jingle bells waned, but the nostalgia for that lively ringing and the holidays that follow remained.
Would you like to enliven your home with sound of holiday cheer? Contact Thompson Tutoring for music lessons today!