Y Facts

Carillon Bell Tower

Centennial Carillon Bell Tower

The Centennial Carillon Tower was constructed (by Paulsen Construction Company, with Markham & Markham Architects and Engineers doing the design work) as part of the 1975 Centennial celebration events and was dedicated at the Founder's Day Convocation October 1975 by President Spencer W. Kimball.  The bell tower would become a symbol of the dedication and sacrifice of those who helped found BYU.

The tower consists of a practice room, a clavier room, and a belfry.  There are 52 bells weighing a total of 26,695 pounds that play a chromatic scale.

The clavier keyboard, from which the bells are activated, consists of wooden sticks called batons that push down a wire connected to a clapper inside the bell, causing the clapper to swing and hit the bell, thereby making it ring.  The clavier keyboard is not played with the fingers, as is a piano or an organ.    Carillonneurs play with their fists, controlling dynamics of the bells with how hard they press the batons.  Carillonneurs also use foot pedals to ring the bells.

The 90-foot bell tower was fashioned after the time-honored tradition of ringing musical strains over university and college campuses and was the first of its kind in the intermountain west.  Dedicated in 1975 on a site overlooking campus (for commemoration of BYU's centennial year), the Centennial Carillon Tower brought a welcome landmark as well as a continued musical reminder of the purpose and history of this university through the playing of chimes and hymns.  The 52 cast bronze bells from Holland (totaling almost 27,000 pounds) can be seen from all four sides of the tower and can be played three different ways:  with the clavier, by magnetic tape, and by piano-style keyboard.  The bells are played daily on the hour, both mechanically and by hand, for concerts by university and visiting carillonneurs, and for each year's commencement exercises.  The bells have also been rung on such special occasions as the 1987 U.S. Bicentennial "Bells Across America" honoring the U.S. Constitution; the 1989 national "Bells of Tribute to George Washington" honoring the 200th anniversary of his inauguration as President; and the 1993 "Bells for Hope" national ceremony of 100 universities joining across the nation in the ringing of bells to show support as new President Bill Clinton took office.

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The Carillon Bell Tower at night

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