Orchestral Percussion

"Campana" in Alexander Nevsky

  • 1.  "Campana" in Alexander Nevsky

    Posted 03-14-2011 15:39
    I'd like some thoughts/ideas behind the following!

    We're performing Prokofiev's "Alexander Nevsky" with the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra in April, and one of the parts is marked "Campana."  In the past, I would assume "church bells" and simply use chimes.  However, the part is WRITTEN like a gong part (aka, one note, no clef) and recordings sound like a, you guessed it, monopitch church bell (and to be honest, sound to my ears pretty crass, esp. against the chorus!)  However, to make it more interesting, SOMEONE has written pitches (aka, Bb, E, G, C) above about 1/2 of the notes...like they tried it on chimes and gave-up OR used chimes about 1/2 the time!  An idea put forward by David Eyler, our timpanist, was to use a low bell plate (since locating a church bell is, at best unlikely).  I'd appreciate your input and experiences!

    Thank you very much!


  • 2.  RE:"Campana" in Alexander Nevsky

    Posted 03-14-2011 23:40
    We did it last year.  Funny story.  I thought that it was a funny story anyway.  A fellow percussionist had a LARGE cowbell.  Her father had been camping in Switzerland decades ago and in the field next to the campground was a herd of cattle.  One of them had this cowbell that, without exaggerating, is pushing 15 lbs.  It would not be out of place in a church belfry.  I guess it was suspended from the cow's neck by a piece of leather not unlike a horse collar.  Anyway, when this camper got back home and was unpacking, here was this flippin' cowbell.  It really is more like a church bell.  The construction seems identical.  It's about 10" at the bottom.  We covered the internal hammer with some paper towel and tape, suspended it from a gong stand and struck it with a chime mallet.  It worked great.  We just used it again last week doubled with an E chime for Sprach.  In both cases, the sound quality it added to the work was of greater musical value than intonation.  Don't know when or if we'll ever use it again, but in the right place, it is a very cool sound.