Recasting the Tsar Bell

tsar bell

I worked with Chris Chafe, Greg Niemeyer, Edmund Campion, and Perrin Meyer to help realize two pieces in which a reconstructed virtual model of the Tsar Bell used as a performable element. Since this is/was one of the world’s largest bells (although it never rung), it was the interest of a number of researchers to hear it. John Granzow did a lot of work on the modeling of the bell to ensure that it was represented accurately. This involved modeling the bell with a polygonal mesh that was used to simulate frequency behavior in FEA (Finite Element Analyses). FEA basically allows for the approximation of which frequencies would be excited from the bell, if it existed. John even researched specfiic metals that allowed for the matching of densities in the model, which was eventually used for the resynthesis carried out by Chris Chafe in Faust. My role was to build externals with the Faust framework that could be struck by various types of impulses. I then created performance software that incorporated Chafe and Campion’s ideas on their respective pieces.

This work was conceived of by Chris Chafe and Greg Niemeyer. A quote from Greg Niemeyer on the physical characteristics of bells:

“Although bronze bells don’t appear to be elastic, when struck, they deform. The deformation moves throughout the bell, and since the bell is round, the deformation circulates until its energy is absorbed by the environment. The sound comes from the deformation moving the air surrounding the bell. The deformations’ constituent frequencies and their amplitudes form waves which define the pitch, volume and timbre of the bell’s sound.”

BCNM: Recasting the Tsar Bell

KQED Article

Performance site: UC Berkeley

BCNM Event

Here is a 360 degree view of the performance site, near UC Berkeley’s Carillon.

Location: UC Berkeley, Berkeley, California

A host of researchers and artist were involved in this project:

  • Greg Niemeyer
  • Chris Chafe
  • Edmund Campion
  • Jeff Lubow
  • Olya Dubatova
  • John Granzow
  • Perrin Meyer
  • DJ Spooky (Paul D. Miller)