(Brian Eno, 2003)
The experiments on this CD sometimes try to simulate existing bells, and (perhaps more profitably) imagine different sorts of bells, bells which may indeed by physically unmakeable. Some of the hypothetical bells have idealized overtone series — where each overtone is the same pure multiple of the one below it. Other hypobells explore reversals or suspensions of some physical laws: what would happen if the highest partials lasted longest? What if the lowest notes were the first to speak, and the higher partials appeared later? What would a large bell made entirely of glass sound like? What if the first chaotic milliseconds of a bell’s ring could be extended over minutes? What if a bell became a drone?
When we started thinking about the Clock of the Long Now, we naturally wondered what kind of sound it could make to announce the passage of time. Bells have stood the test of time in their relationship to clocks, and the technology of making them is highly evolved and still evolving. I began reading about bells, discovering the physics of their sounds, and became interested in thinking about what other sorts of bells might exist. My speculations quickly took me out of the bounds of current physical and material possibilities, but I considered some license allowable since the project was conceived in a timescale of thousands of years, and I might therefore imagine bells with quite different physical properties from those we now know.