Carillons Chiming Again

After being silenced by a lightning strike some years ago, the carillons located just north of the University Center entrance returned to musical form this week. The chimes play a rendition of the alma mater, "Hail Northern," to usher in each day at 8 a.m., then ring in the top of each hour until 8 p.m.

"This is a piece of campus history, and once the decision was made to get it up and running again, we did a lot of research in order to update the technology," said Eric Smith (Broadcast and Audio Visual Services), who was enlisted to help repair the computer system and resurrect the sound.

"The speaker technology we're using is a ground system. It's a modified version of what you'd find at Disney. The sound is there, but it's not obtrusive. We're hoping it gives off richer tones that sound more like real bells. We're testing it this week and then we will make plans to get the speaker placed and permanently cemented."

Smith credits two staff members from his area for their help with the project, which cost less than $500 to complete. Pat Lakenen reprogrammed the unit and Dave Bett handled engineering on the tower. Other than periodic checkups, Smith said the new system should be self-maintaining.

Northern has had a number of carillons in its history, according to A Sense of Place: The Encyclopedia of Northern Michigan University by Russ Magnaghi (History). Bells located on the roof of Kaye Hall were removed with the building's demolition in the early '70s. The castle-like appearance was replicated, using sandstone from Kaye Hall, when new carillons were built and dedicated at their University Center location in 1980.


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Updated: May 5, 2006

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