Bell Trees/Wind Chimes

• Mar 14, 2013 - 21:16

In a lot of modern orchestral music, bell trees (an unpitched percussion aka wind chimes) are heavily used. However, Musescore doesn't have this available. One factor that might make this a difficult instrument to program is the fact that they are always played as glissandi, which Musescore doesn't support either. If there is any way to make this instrument available and sound good, that would be excellent.

My initial thought would be to use the triangle sound from the soundfont and have it repeat itself rapidly while gradually raising or lowering in pitch, if that's possible.


Have you read the Handbook on Soundfont ? There are many options available, and I'm sure some of them support these instruments. MuseScore itself is instrument-neutral - it's happy to play any instrument supported by whatever soundfont you load. And I suspect that any soundfont that provided these chimes would do so as a glissando; you wouldn't need MuseScore to explicitly force this.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Yes, I've read it before. However, chimes and bell trees are not supported by any soundfont bank I've seen. The closest thing I can think of is a repeated triangle sound or a glockenspiel glissando, but those both still don't replicate it well. If the musescore program could utilize one of these sounds in a way that would more closely resemble a bell tree, that would be appreciated by a lot of people, myself included. At the very least, the program should have an easy way to visually display a chime glissando on the notation, even if a sound is not plausible or possible.

In reply to by a_bohman

You can find Bell tree in the TimGM6mb soundfont supplied with MuseScore.

It is in the Standard Drumset mapped to MIDI note #84

You should, therefore be able to make a custom drumset with this sound in it - not that it is a particularly good one, but at least it's there :)


In reply to by a_bohman

Also, you can display glissando - they are found in the glissando palette. If you add it to a single note(as opposed to a chord) it will be fery short by default, but you can then double click and resize it. Amd GWIW, glissandi *do* normally playback in 1.X. But with only note, there is nothing to do, so you won't hear a difference. It's really intended for chords.

In reply to by Shoichi

That's a really cool sound, I might have to try it sometime. But I'm referring more to the unpitched percussion instrument "bell tree" and "wind chimes." This is still useful though, thanks.

In reply to by a_bohman

A bell tree looks like a bunch of brass bells of decreasing size stacked on top of each other with a handle at the bottom and is played by running a stick over them; a Mark Tree is a bunch of metal rods of decreasing size hung side by side and play by striking each other when brushed with a hand. The latter is what is normally called "wind chimes" (I don't know why).

In reply to by MDMilford

There is definitely some confusion between these instruments. I gather terminology is not exactly standardized. I had never heard the term "Mark tree" before.

I think of the bell tree as this:

I think of wind chimes as this:

As Michael observed above - and I think this may have been missed - the default soundfont, and probably most other GM soundfonts, *does* provide one of these two sounds as pitch 84. I wasn't aware of that as the original GM standard stops at 81, but I see now that the Roland GS standard defines several more percussion instruments, and I suspect most GM soundfonts do implement these Roland GS extensions.

However, I note that the Roland GS spec defines this instrument to be called the "bell tree", and that's how TimGM6mb plays it. But FLuidR3 uses wind chimes. And actually, my recollection is that it was wind chimes and not the bell tree that was used by the original Roland Canvas (which I still have, but am too lazy to dig out and check).

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Apparently not :) From Wikipedia:
The mark tree (also known as a chime tree or set of bar chimes) should not be confused with two similar instruments:

  • Wind chimes are mounted in a circle with a hanging beater strung in the center, and may be solid or hollow and of many materials, while the mark tree is mounted in a linear fashion, and is normally of solid metal bars.
  • The bell tree

In reply to by Nicolas

You and Wikipedia are of course correct, and now that I am reminded of this, "bar chimes" is indeed what I have heard as the official name. Still, they *are* colloquially referred to as wind chimes - indeed, the picture I posted (and others just like it) was found by doing a Google search on ":wind chimes percussion". And I would be willing to bet that when a soundfont says it implements specifies "wind chimes", that they really mean "bar chimes" at least half the time.

BTW, we have a set of actual wind chimes on the back porch that produces a Phrygian scale; I can hear them clanking as I type this :-)

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