Music, Art, Culture, and Politics from Around the World
by Jaan Whitehead
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Pub Date 18 Oct 2022 | Archive Date 28 Oct 2022
Girl Friday Productions, Girl Friday Books
Discover the magic and mysticism of bells around the world, including their political and religious power, their musicality, and their familiarity in daily life.
We live in a world of bells but seldom notice them. However, bells have existed in all cultures since earliest times and are one of the world’s most remarkable artifacts. They have been the “voice” of God and Buddha, a talisman for early monastics, a source of glorious music, and part of many sacred rituals. Yet, they have also been the clocks, school bells, fire bells, and shop bells of daily life. The Song of the Bells brings together seventeen stories that explore the magic and mysticism of these bells, their political and religious power, their wide-ranging musicality, and their familiarity in our everyday lives.
The stories range from the recently discovered chimes of Ancient China to the music of carillons and change ringing to reindeer bells in Arctic Norway to the surprising bell that is on the International Space Station. Other stories explore Buddhist bells in Japan and Tibet, the famous African bells of Benin, Russian bells, early Christian bells in Scotland, the Liberty Bell and Big Ben, bells on trains, cable cars, and circus wagons, and two bells brought up from lost ships to serve as memorials for their crews. Illustrated with 130 photographs, this beautiful book brings bells out from the background of our days to create a living history of this amazing musical instrument.
The book is inspired by her great-grandmother’s trip around the world where she collected small bells almost one hundred years ago. Whitehead inherited these bells, which led to her own journeys that included crossing the Pacific to see the famous bells of China, finding peace in the Buddhist temples of Kyoto, interviewing the Sami reindeer herders in Arctic Norway, visiting with master bell ringers in London and Florida, and attending the launch of a space shuttle and conversations with the astronaut who suggested putting a bell in the International Space Station.
The book will interest bell collectors, musicians, and fans of musical instruments, as well as museums, universities, and libraries that have musical instrument collections. It will also appeal to general readers interested in cultural history, particularly the popular field of “commodity history,” similar to Mark Kurlansky’s books Salt, Paper, and Salmon.
A Note From the Publisher
"The most profound and interesting book on bells I have ever read. Beautifully written and illustrated, it places the history and culture of bells in an international context rarely found in musical literature."
Mark Regan, Former Ringing Master, Worcester Cathedral, England
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Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 4 members
A historical picture book on the origins and usage of bells throughout the ancient to modern world. A great look for history buffs and fantasy writers hoping to add a bell or two to their work.
Bells: Music, Art, Culture, and Politics from Around the World, by Jaan Whitehead, absolutely blew me away. A beautiful book that also taught me so much about the history of bells, both through a general history and several stories that brought the big picture into focus.
I was initially interested in this book because I expected it to be a visual treat. It is! I was expecting a few interesting historical bits and maybe a few things that would fall more under trivia. Not only does the book go into more depth than I expected, it is all very interesting. I am not a collector (I own six bells and each has a special meaning for me, but they aren't part of a bell collection) and my knowledge of them was limited at best.
What really struck me, in addition to the intriguing stories of certain bells, was how much bells have been a part of everyday life for so long. I guess I sort of knew this, history includes many instances of everyday bells as well as special bells, but I had never put it together.
I would certainly recommend this to any collector as well as anyone who simply likes books that are beautiful to look at. If you're like me and don't really have much knowledge of bells but enjoy history and cultures of the world, this book will be a great read for you in addition to the pictures.
Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
Wow. Absolutely spectacular!
The work that went into this book is amazing! Comprehensive research about not just iconic bells from around the world but really to the beginning of time.
My favorite is 'Bells and their Music'.
I would like to thank Net Galley and the publisher Indelible Editions for the opportunity to read and reviews this fascinating book!
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