Robotic bells

This is the Mk III robotic bell rig, designed to make it easier to take the bells to venues – earlier versions saw the bells inside a shed or scattered around a gallery, in dozens of separate boxes. Here, I’ve mounted them on an old shop fitting, salvaged by Vivien Angliss from a place in Bedfordshire that was closing down.

The Mk III bells had their first outing in the Malborough Theatre’s inaugural Steampunk night (Brighton – curated by Tarik Elmoutawakil). I’ve also taken them to the Gasworks Gallery, Vauxhall (for a Resonance FM night, curated by Ed Baxter) and to a Spacedog night at the Freebutt, Brighton. I’ve been using them quite a bit in my own compositions for bells, saw, theremin and vocals. But here’s a video of the bells playing a classic – it’s Troika, from Prokovief’s Lieutenant Kije. Over the next few weeks, I’ll endeavour to post more videos of the bells in action.

Technical notes

The bells are being percussed by servo-driven, spring-mounted beaters. These are controlled by a LynxMotion SSC-32 servo control board, which is receiving serial signals from Max/MSP.  As you can see, the springs make the beaters remarkably responsive – they can even tackle the odd semiquaver. See also the Mk I version of the bells, in Swinging London – my automaton show for the South Bank Overture Weekend.