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The Carillon

The Carillon from a distance.Charmingly diminutive compared to the grand versions seen in Europe, Napier's Carillon is a bronze and steel set of bells hung on a supporting frame.

Originally placed on a plinth in the water lily pond at the centre of Clive Square, it was moved to its present location in 1998 to make way for the water feature and light in the pond.

The Carillon plays every half hour from 11.30am until 2pm - four tunes one minute apart each time. The selection may include nursery rhymes, traditional airs and popular songs.

Programmes are changed regularly. The choice of tunes may be particular to the time of year, such as at Christmas and Art Deco Weekend. Tunes must be carefully chosen as the carillon is equipped with 19 bells that cover a limited range of notes - two octaves of "white notes", with just four "black notes" instead of the usual ten.

The bells have just one volume level and use a lot of harmonics.

Since 1997, the Carillon has employed a computer-operated system, donated by Napier company Electrotech Controls. This replaced the worn mechanism for working the bells.

Dr Tim Bell of the University of Canterbury developed the method used in the more recent system, playing a tune on a keyboard in Christchurch, recording it onto a computer, converting it to the controller format and emailing it to Napier for loading onto the Carillon.

Providing the feedback, an Electrotech engineer recorded the songs played in Clive Square, emailing the recording back to Christchurch.


This Carillon was presented to the City of Napier in its Centennial Year 1974 by Rothmans Tobacco Company Ltd. Unveiled 18 October 1974

Carillon images

Carillon Location Map

Dickens Street side of Clive Square


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