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Power of Tower Chimes Rings Out UT Spirit 

One of our professors held class a few seconds past the bell Monday and as were sitting there waiting to leave, we heard a sound that reminded us of a long-neglected duty. 

The sound we heard is one that has meant more to us than most anything else connected with the campus during our stint as student. It's the sound of the Tower chimes. 

Since our home is in Austin, we have been used to the chimes and never paid them much attention other than just a pleasant background for daily life. 

But when we hit the university as a student, the full impact of those chimes hit us. It's that happy feeling that pops onto to you as you make your way over the campus to a class and hear the chimes ringing out. There's deep power in the bells that seems to reassure and inspire. Like music from heaven, it floats over all and soothes. 

It's a glad sound that welcomes you when you've been away from the campus. They ring out, and you say, “I'm back.” 

Back to the neglected duty. 

We wanted to say it to him before he left for Alaska, but we hope this word will get to him: 

“Thank you, David Anderson, for the joy you gave to us all last year when it was your hands that brought the living sound from the Tower chimes.” 

And another word of welcome to Tom Anderson, David's brother, who has taken over playing chimes for this year. 

The seventeen bells making up the carillon of the Tower are hung in the top of the Tower at varying levels, the large ones at the bottom and the smallest at the top. Their total weight is approximately 40,000 pounds, and their cost averaged $1 per pound. They were installed in November of 1935. 

Marion Carnes was the first student to begin giving 10-minute concerts on the bells in 1938. Th folk tunes and hymns that he played have been carried down and much the same music is heard today, with a few popular tunes that can be played on the range of notes. Now, as ever, “The Eyes of Texas' has been the favorite. 

The largest bell, which gives the lowest tone, the Westminister peal heard every hour, has a diameter at its opening of more that five feet. Its metal sides are a hand-length in thickness. A large scale would be necessary to weigh its 7,800 pounds. 

The clavier of the carillon, corresponding to the organ's console, is located on a level just below the bells and almost within arms length of the inside of the face of the west clock. 

Corresponding to keys and pedals on an organ, the carillon clavier has manual and pedal keys. The manual keys are operated with wooden handles. To sound a bell, the musician must either strike one of the manual keys with his fist or press a corresponding pedal. 

Carillons are equipped to be played with both hands and feet because the work involves is striking the manaul claviers with the fists make striking more than two notes in rapid succession difficult unless the pedal can be used for the third note. Also, the larger bells are too heavy to sound by hand. 

The chimes which ring the quarter hours are operated electronically. 

Since there are only seventeen bells and therefore seventeen notes, the music played must be transposed. 

The room which contains the keyboard for the bells is at the base of the columns in the northwest corner of the Tower above the clock. The large keyboard fills the small room, leaving just enough room for the bench on which Anderson sits while playing. 

Daily Texan. October 1, 1952.
Article by: Jo Ann Dickerson

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3 May 1999
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