About the Baker Bells
Ernest Martin Hopkins, Dartmouth College President 1916-1945, Class of 1901, had visited Oxford and Cambridge and was much impressed with the bell-ringing on those campuses. When Baker Library was constructed, a trustee, Clarence B. Little, Class of 1881, donated $40,000 for a set of bells to be placed in the tower of the Library, in order to please President Hopkins.
Meneely Bell Company of Troy, New York built a bespoke 15-bell set. The bells vary in size from 200 to 5,300 pounds. They range an octave and a half on the scale, playing every note in that range, except E flat.
The bells first rang in 1928. They were rung manually for the first year. The following year, William Durrschmidt, an instrument maker and Professor of Music, invented an automation system from three machines and a clock. It was similar to the mechanism of a player piano, where holes are punched into a roll of paper and the locations of the holes triggered the bell mechanism. There was also a keyboard in the tower, so people could play "instantaneous music" on the bells.
In 1979, the bells were computerized. Two students designed a system to run the bells, as the system and the paper rolls used for the first 50 years were starting to wear out.
A 16th bell was donated in 1981 in memory of Donal F. Morse '51. Money was also provided for the maintenance of the system and to provide payment for a bell ringer.
The bells currently run via a remote Internet connection on a "Mac mini" computer in the tower that runs custom-designed software written by graduate students in the Master of Arts program in Digital Musics who are supervised by Prof. Michael Casey. The software and hardware is maintained and updated regularly by the students.
Bells ring the time on the hour and half hour. Songs are played three times a day - the alma mater at 6pm, and varying pieces during intervals between classes. Songs can be requested by e-mailing "Bells". If you are requesting a song that is already in the song database, it takes a day or two to program it. Songs can be scheduled for any time except on the hour.
Some current favorites:
Dartmouth College is one of the few locations that still uses real bells instead of recordings or synthesizers. Bells are turned each year so that the hammers don't wear out the same spot on each bell, and we can be guaranteed the enjoyment of these real bells for years to come.
Check out the Office of Alumni Relations For More Information: Alumni Relations Bells Information.
Baker Bells Requests
The Baker Bells staff accept requests from the Dartmouth community for songs to be played on specific dates / times. Choose from the list of songs below, or the carilloneur can prepare new songs if your requested song is not in the list of available songs.
Requests range from "Happy Birthday" to contempory popular songs. Not all song requests can easily be prepared for the Baker bells, due to the limited range and pitch classes available. Some time and effort are required to program new songs so lead time is appreciated.
To request a song, send an e-mail to Bells at Dartmouth. Please include in your request the following information:
The carilloneur will respond in due course to let you know the outcome of your request.
List of Songs (Indicative)