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~ Selecting a Wind Chime ~

We are all familiar with the small windchimes sold inexpensively in department stores and garden centers. Yes, they are pretty, always enhanced with glass, wood, pewter or cute critters. But their tiny size gives them a very high pitch, and, being un-tuned, the resulting dissonance begins to grate on the ears after mere seconds.

For those looking for a strictly decorative windchime, or as it should be called, a garden mobile, some glass artisans make particularly lovely pieces.

With oriental influences being so fashionable, one may consider a bamboo windchime. They are ephemeral, rarely staying in good shape for more than 2 or 3 summers outdoors. Though not precisely tuned, they have distinctive, hollow notes that don't travel much, and are always soothing and relaxing. They also come in a variety of exotic shapes, and are a good compromise between sound and style.

Windchime afficionados consider department store windchimes to be no more than cute noisemakers. A real windchime must be tuned to a perfect A440, built with the care given to a musical instrument, and durable enough to endure the outdoors for many years. They must be made with materials that resonate sweetly, develop harmonious overtones and create a whole new aural dimension in one's environment. They should be easy to shut off for the night. The smallest tuned windchimes are usually quite a bit larger than the un-tuned varieties, and some are even a few meters in height.

They also come in a variety of flavors, some based on the scales used in Balinese or Gypsy music, even on the harmonies used by French composer Claude Debussy.

Naturally, a tuned windchime, because of its larger size, and care in tuning is expected to be more costly, up to several thousand dollars for extremely large ones - fit for public spaces rather than home gardens.

Some devotees build their own tuned windchimes. Several web sites dwell lovingly on the mathematics of tuning, harmonics and resonance of chime tubes, and the value of various materials. Different metals, such as brass, copper or aluminium support overtones in varying loudness, with aluminium tubing being favored.

Windchime Links

Kirk's Glass Art - Fused and stained glass.
Peter Craft - Tuned to the pentatonic scale, made in New Bruswick.
Music-of-the-Spheres - Tuned to several scales, made in the USA; maybe the best on the market.
The Blue Jay's Garden - Online Canadian supplier of Music-of-the-Spheres windchimes.
Grace Notes - Tuned to several scales, made in the USA.
Woodstock Percussion - Tuned to several scales, and in a variety of finishes.
Eric Reiswig - Serious amateur explains the making of a windchime.
Jim Haworth - Another serious amateur explains the making of a windchime.

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