Web Historical Disclaimer:

This is a historical page and is no longer maintained. Read our Web history statement for more information.

 

Chime on My Hands

No 'Blue Skies' Next Week 

Final examinations begin Monday; and to mark this awesome occasion, Chopin's "Funeral March" will emanate from the Tower chime at 10 minutes until 1 o'clock. Lest students ignore the warning, it will be followed by "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen" and "O God, Our Hope in Ages Past." 

AT THE CLAVIER keyboard will be Tom Anderson, a graduate in music education, who began playing the chime in September, 1952. 

"I've got my hardest final Monday morning," says Anderson with a smile, "and I'll be in full mood for it." The final that has the good-natured Austinite worried is a music literature course on the life and music of Bach. 

IN A CUBBYHOLE slightly larger than a closet sits pensive Tom Anderson playing the chime in the University Tower. Behind that deep look is a wry sense of humor that promoted him to play "Blue Skies," make his wierd choice of Chopin's "Funeral March," which he will play Monday to mark the beginning of final examinations.

THE WRITER obtained special permission to go up to the top of the Tower with Anderson Monday. We got off the elevator at the twenty-seventh floor. Through a series of locked doors and up flights of cement steps, we made our way to the closet-like enclosure that houses the clavier. 

The clavier resembles a small organ and has a piano keyboard. However, instead of striking ivory keys, the musical tones are produced by a downward motion on a series of handles connected by cables to rods around the network of bells above the room where Anderson plays. 

THESE RODS are connected to the clappers on the inside of the bells' lobes. When Anderson presses down a handle, the rod rotates, and the clapper strikes the inside of the bell to produce the note desired. 

At the present time, the chime has a range of only an octave and a half. "Because of the limited range, I sometimes have to strike another note instead of the one called for in the music," Anderson explains. He states that a range of two octaves would give better harmony. 

"OFFICIALLY you can't call it a carillion," continues Anderson, "because a full-size carillion has 24 bells. Ours has only 17. Since it is not a full-size 

carillion, I guess it would be more proper to call the bells a chime, instead of chimes." 

The biggest bell is the C bell. There are no bells connected to the clavier to produce the sharps of C, D, and F. "If we had it, the C-sharp bell would be the second largest one," adds Anderson. 

WHILW ANDERSON played a group of sunshine songs Monday, such as "You Are My Sunshine," and "On the Sunny Side of the Street," the writer stood in front of the network of bells to watch them in operation. At the end of each number, the air was filled with a steady vibration akin to that of an airplane heard from the ground. 

Tom's brother, Dave, also a graduate in music, had the job before him. "Dave still plays occasionally," says Anderson. "When I hurt my ankle recently, he filled in for me." 

SACRED MUSIC was Anderson's undergraduate major. He is teaching piano now and plans to go into church music, when he receives his master's in music education. 

Students request "Happy Birthday" more than any other song. Requests may be turned in to Dean E. William Doty's office in the Music Building. 

Anderson is particularly interested in foreign folk songs and would welcome any turned in by foreign students. 

YOU NEVER KNOW what selections will be played on the Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays that Tom Anderson plays the Tower Chime. One co-ed recalls the time last year that "Blue Skies" sounded across the campus as the year's worst rain pelted against the Tower. 

Disregarding his morose selections for Monday to mark the beginning of finals, "Blue Skies" was typical of the man at the clavier. 

Talking with Tom Anderson raises your spirits, just as his chime music establishes a universal bond among University students and gives them something to smile about.

Daily Texan. December 12, 1954.
Author: Luke L. Patrenella

Back to News


3 May 1999
Send comments to evpp@www.utexas.edu
Credits and Resources