For the uninitiated in the world of bells, tubular bells, when seen for the first time, may be mistaken for wind chimes. Both have elongated tubes that are suspended from a beam. The resemblance is uncanny. Unlike wind chimes, however, tubular bells are cast from heavier metals.
Tubular bells also are not meant to produce sound when the tubes clash against each other, nor would an ordinary wind make them vibrate, by virtue of their weight.
In an orchestra, you may see an instrument made of a row of brass tubes with different lengths. They are usually about one and one-half inches in diameter and are suspended vertically from a large wooden or metal frame. These are called tubular bells tubes that are tuned and arranged like piano keys. The tubes are tuned chromatically, starting with C above middle C and extending 1.5 octaves. The longer tubes produce a lower pitch when struck, and the shorter ones produce a higher pitch when struck. They are played by striking one or two rawhide or wooden mallets against them. The vibrations that result produce the sounds.
Originally, it was bells that were part of the orchestra. But because they are harder to control, they were replaced in the 1880s by tubular bells. The sound from the tubular bells closely resembles the ringing of the bells. Tubular bells may be seen in museums or in cathedrals where they are still played.
If you fancy having tubular bells, whether you are a collector or home decorator, you may want to check out the various websites. You can purchase antique pieces or have them replicated. They are also nice gifts for a friends or relatives with a penchant for antique musical instruments. If you own a set, you can contact a restoration expert to tune and clean them for you.