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Musical instruments which are idiophones, that is the sound is produced by the object itself being struck. Monophonic - they produce one note each and must be tuned to play with other bells or instruments.

The size varies from tiny hand held bells to huge bells weighing many tons. The striking can be done by an internal clapper or an external hammer.

Tiny bells are used by Morris dancers on bell pads worn around the shins (or on the shoes in North West Morris).

Churches usually have a bell tower containing one or more bells. Not only do these ring out for celebration and calling the faithful to prayer, but were also sounded in times of danger as warnings. A set of bells is rung in changes - a pattern of bells to be rung. One who practices this is called a bellringer or Campanolgist. The bell ringing can be automated as a Carillon, playing tunes rather than changes. Carillons are more frequently found on the continent of Europe in places like Holland , Austria and Germany but there is a notable one in Birmingham - The Bourneville Carillon. Carillons have at least 23 bells arranged in a chromatic progression. They are hung 'dead' - that is unable to swing - and are struck by lever operated hammers, in turn operated by spokes in a roller. Changing the roller or the spokes will change the tune.

The Cow Bell, once confined to Alpine meadows now forms a fairly standard accessory to a drum kit.

Sets of hand bells tuned to a scale were popular at one time. They would be played by a group of people typically one person controlling two bells. There are methods to operate 4 or even 6 bells per person.

Bells are used on ships to announce time for the watch. Rung every half hour over a 4 hour watch, there are one to eight bells rung and six watches.

Bells are usually made from Bell Metal - a form of bronze which is heated to make it molten and then cast into moulds. Once solidified and cooled, the bell is finished, tuned and polished. The Whitechapel Bell Foundary is one of the best known and oldest producers of bells.