Because of their design, handchimes do not lend themselves to all of the special ringing techniques as handbells. Many of the techniques when performed, could be damaging to the handchime itself in the area of the tines which determines the tuning of the instrument. The damage is done when the chime tube cracks at the base of the tines, changing the length of the tines. If the vibrating tine’s length is altered in any way, the pitch is distorted permanently.
A tine generally cracks when it is bent from ringing or malleting with too much force or from using the martellato technique. Larger tines can also bend when their vibrating cycle is interrupted. The larger the chime, the lower the pitch and the slower the vibrating cycle. Playing short, repeated notes on bass chimes will weaken the tines. Shaking on treble handchimes will weaken the tines. A rule to follow would be: the larger the chime, the longer the duration of the note to be played. Bass chimes should be used for a harmonic support to the handchimes above it – C4 on up.
ChimeWorks® has created the chart below as an easy reference when using special ringing techniques with handchimes:
The Finger Damp is an acceptable technique in creating a stopped sound on a handchime. The size of the hand and the handchime will dictate who can employ the technique. The handchime is rung with the finger already in place therefore, the vibrating cycle is not interrupted.
Finger Damp (TD)
Slide the forefinger to the top area of the handchime and place the finger pad in the center of the tine slot and ring the chime.
This should result in pitch with little resonance.
The size of the handchime will determine if more than one finger is needed to properly execute the technique.
While we would like handchimes to be a full replacement for handbells, it is not possible because of the design and material of the instruments. We encourage you to embrace the unique qualities of handchimes and use their strengths in choosing repertoire and determining when to substitute them for handbells:
- A strong fundamental pitch with fewer overtones creates a richer sound quality which is why we love to use them for slow moving harmonies.
- Chimes are ethereal. Because aluminum is a softer metal, handchimes are more mellow in color. This is also the cause of handchimes being slower to “speak” than handbells and why slower tempos are recommended.
- A pure, intense tone is created by handchimes which resonates through more complex tonal sounds making them perfect to solo a melodic line.