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Hymns, Folk Songs 'Out' For Friday Chime Ringing 


Gordon King

Gordon King, the man who plays the tower bells at the chime-time (12:50 p.m. MWF), will abandon his repertoire of hymns and folk songs on Friday for the rest of the football season. 

Although he has no set program before he begins to play, King said he will definitely reserve Fridays for Texas tunes. The rest of the time he will play whatever comes to his mind--but he will play certain pieces on request. 

King, who took over the chimes job this year, is a graduate student in music. The Corpus Christi native says he enjoys playing the bells because they comprise "the loudest and largest musical instrument in Austin."

HOWERVER, he said "this has one big disadvantage--it is not possible to practice." Once a bell has been struck, it may be heard by everyone in the University area. 

He plays the 17 bells in a private chamber above the observation deck and clocks of the tower. To get to the chamber, he enters a wire cage on the twenty-seventh floor and walks up three flights of stairs. 

Security regulations regarding entrance to the chamber are so rigid that a Texan photographer was not allowed to accompany King for a picture of the musician in action.

The keyboard controlling the chimes consists of 17 levers which may be described as screwdriver handles. When a lever is pushed downward, a clapper hits the inside of al bell. A strong arm is required to work the keyboard, but King says a recent greasing job has cut down considerably on the manual work involved. 

THE BELLS, which have a total weight of almost 40,000 pounds, were shipped to the University from New York in 1935 at a cost of $40,000. They were raised to the top of the Main Building with a derrick and had to be installed before the top floor could be completed. Each bell has two clappers, one on the outside which is electrically operated and one on the inside connected to King's keyboard. 

A long lime of University players has tolled the bells since the tower was completed in 1937. The bells were first rung by Dr. Paul Boner, former dean of The University, when the body of University President H. Y. Benedict was lying in state on campus. 

King inherited the chiming job from James Moeser, also a music student, whose graduation left the job vacant. 

Daily Texan. October 15, 1961.
Article by: Unknown

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3 May 1999
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