The Russian Bells

The Russian Bells are actually aluminium cooking pots. They were purchased by Makmed the Miller from a hardware store in Smolensk.This was during the Gorbachev era. He was on the road with a travelling circus where he worked as a fakir with a bed of nails routine.When travelling, he was always looking out for unusual or interesting instruments. However, this period was particularly infertile since the main furniture factory,which made 90% of the instruments for the entire Soviet Union, was on strike. Undeterred, he decided to wander around the small but perfectly formed city of Smolensk until he came upon a small shop which sold all manner of tools, ironware and kitchen utensils. They had about two hundred aluminium pots at the rear of the building and he spent a good two hours going through them all, checking not only the sound quality but also the pitch of each one, much to the studied indifference of the stone-faced babushkas who worked there. Finally he picked out four of them, chosen for suitability in slendro and Japanese scales. These bells have a wonderful sound. Its hard to believe that the true destiny of these aluminium sound bowls is not to create heavenly frequencies but rather to toxify hot borscht and other soup. Unfortunately the orchestra lost one of the bells when it apparently fell off the back of a truck whilst they were touring in the Balkans a couple of years ago, no doubt hitting the ground with a perfect concert pitch Bb.

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