Almglocken

Another rarely used tuned percussion instrument are the Almglocken.  Almglocken are tuned Swiss cowbells.  They usually come in sets ranging from 2 to 4 octaves.  Almglocken have had their clappers removed, so to sound them they are stuck with mallets (yarn or rubber) like most other tuned percussion instruments.  There are three ways Almglocken can be mounted.

1. Fixed on a rack, unmoveable, most common

2. Lying flat on a table, produces a dampening effect

3. suspended from a rack, free swinging, can produce a “vibrato” effect

If not specified, the first option is the most common.

The dull plunk has little sustain, and the intonation is not 100% accurate.  I find it best to use Almglocken by themselves and not part of a larger percussion ensemble.  I’ve written for the instrument once as an accompaniment line in a quiet section of my Bassoon Concerto.

Introduction to Almglocken

Suspended Almglocken

The most well-known work that scores for Almglocken is Messiaen’s Et Exspecto Resurrectionem Mortuorum.  This work uses 4 octaves of Almglocken divided among three players.