CARILLON, an arrangement for playing tunes upon a set of bells by mechanical means. The word is said to be a Fr. form of Late Lat. or Ital. quadriglio, a simple dance measure on four notes or for four persons (Lat. quattuor); and is used sometimes for the tune played, sometimes (and more commonly in England) for the set of bells used in playing it. The earliest medieval attempts at bell music, as distinct from mere noise, seem to have consisted in striking a row of small bells by hand with a hammer, and illustrations in MSS. of the 12th and 13th centuries show this process on three, four or even eight bells. The introduction of mechanism in the form either of a barrel (see Barrel-organ) set with pegs or studs and revolving in connexion with the machinery of a clock, or of a keyboard struck by hand (carillon à clavier), made it possible largely to increase the number of bells and the range of harmonies. In Belgium, the home of the carillon the art of the carillonneur was at one time brought to great perfection and held in high esteem (see Bell); but even there it is gradually giving way to mechanism. In England manual skill has never been much employed, though keyboards on the continental model have been introduced, e.g. at the Manchester town hall, at Eaton Hall, and elsewhere; carillon music being mainly confined to hymn tunes at regular intervals (generally three hours), or chimes at the hours and intervening quarters. The "Cambridge" and "Westminster" chimes are very familiar; and more recently chimes have been composed by Sir John Stainer for Freshwater in the Isle of Wight ("Tennyson" Chimes), and by Sir Charles Stanford for "Bow Bells" in London.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)