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Carol of the Bells

I always wanted to do a segment for Carol of the Bells but I wanted to find a version that actually had bells.  We attended a concert of the handbell group Golden Bells of Atlanta and they performed a version of the song with a handbell soloist and a hammer dulcimer.  As soon as the concert was over I approached them and asked if I could use their song in my light show.  After I explained what I meant, they were excited about the idea and offered to provide the sheet music (which did not actually exist yet) to assist with my sequencing.  I bought a copy of their CD so that I would have the audio.  

Segment Facts

Show: Christmas

Introduced: 2018

Artist: Golden Bells of Atlanta - Community Handbell Choir

Author: This segment is primarily a Julie segment.  I created the animated GIFs (and consultation) and Julie did all of the sequencing.

Duration:  #.## - Edited for Length


We chose Blue and Gold as the colors for this song.

Representing the Music in Lights

Our next task was to figure out how to represent the instruments/music in lights.  We considered the two types of instruments, the handbells and the dulcimer and talked about how to translate them to lights. 

The Handbells

We chose to use the Monster Matrix, Pixel Trees and Yard Grid to represent the handbells.

Monster Matrix

Using the matrix allowed us to do an actual representation of handbells.  We divided the matrix into ten (10) sections to represent the bells/notes.  To represent the motion of ringing a hadbell, I created animated GIFs for the bell motions of short and long ringing notes.  This allowed us to address both the motion and timing of the bells to the music.

Pixel Trees

Like the matrix, we assigned each bell/note to one of the ten (10) pixel trees.  We then sequenced the trees to the music.

Yard Grid - Ribbon

We mirrored the pixel tree movements on the yard grid.

Hammer Dulcimer

A hammer dulcimer is a stringed instrument that you play by striking the strings with a hammer.  We visualized the motion of the hammer hitting the string and the sound radiating out by an initial yellow pixel (the strike) and radiating blue pixels (in both directions).  I created another animated GIF to represent the motion of the dulcimer.  We chose to use the Garage Matrices and Rings to represent the dulcimer.  

Garage Matrices

We assigned specific rows on the matrix to the notes.  By activating the GIF on each row as the corresponding note was struck and deactivating it as the note ended we simulated the dulcimer.  The left and right matrices were sequenced as mirror images.


We assigned specific rings to the notes.  We used the animated GIF twice on each ring with the strike point centered on the bottom and also on the top of the ring.  When the note is struck, the motion starts simultaneously at the bottom and top of the ring and radiates out toward the sides.

Things to Observe

Some great things to watch in this segment:

  • Watch the motion of the bells as shown on the Monster Matrix,  Pixel Trees and yard grid.

  • Watch the motion of the dulcimer on the garage matrices and on the rings.  Observe how the same motion looks similar but different on the different display elements.


This section provides photos from past versions of this segment in the show.


This section includes images that were either used in the segment or are provided to explain something about how we designed the segment.  Select an image to view a larger version and additional information.

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