What Is A Bell Lyre?


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A Bell Lyre is a musical instrument belonging to the percussion family, and is essentially a more portable version of the glockenspiel, making it a popular addition to a marching band or military band set up.

Etymology - A Bell Lyre takes it's name from a stringed instrument known as a Lyre Harp, which is believed to have its earliest beginnings dating back to the civilization of Ancient Sumeria; what would now cover Iraq and parts of Syria in the Middle East. The Bell part is indicative of the similarity of sound it has to bells when played.

Structure - Similar in shape to the Lyre, hence it's use of the name the Bell Lyre is a cup-shaped instrument belonging to the percussion family. A hollow metal frame, often flared at the upper ends is home to a piano style arrangement of two rows of aluminum (formerly steel) bars.

History & Geography - The origin of the Glockenspiel is not recorded in Europe prior to the 17th Century, where as the more modern Bell Lyre is believed to have originated in Germany around the last 30 years of the 19th Century.

Playing the Instrument - The Lyre as previously mentioned is common in marching bands, so a strapped harness holds the instrument in place while usually mounted on a stand, and the player strikes the bars with a mallet. The thickness and size of the bars determine the pitch of the notes.

Lyre in modern music - The sound of the Lyre can be heard in such diverse genres as Traditional classical to modern Hip Hop, and many in between. An arrangement by minimalist composer Steve Reich sees the Glockenspiel play a senior role in the 3rd and 4th movements of his composition "Drumming".

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