If asked to name the most distinctive sound of Sergiyev Posad, some would certainly think of this one – the chimes of the Holy Trinity St. Sergius monastery belfry.
There are 90 meters and four years between those sounds. The first one was recorded in 2008 atop of the belfry of Lavra, which is one of the most important Orthodox monastery in Russia located right in the town centre in Sergiyev Posad.
With its massive clockwork it is no wonder that the ticking is so loud up there, very impressive. But even more thrilling is the moment as the chimes begin to play.
It sounds pretty quiet inside but this is how the same melody was heard outside – the same sound recorded from the ground some time after.
At first, I thought this melody got modified in some way over the course of time. It really sounds a bit different – compare the two recordings, one was made in April 2009 and the other dates back to July 2010.
Yes, these recordings sound similar but they are not identical. The most likely answer is that there are several variations heard every hour on the hour, on the half-hour, and the other two – on the quarter-hour (15&45 minutes).
The pitch and the sequence – this is what makes the difference. The on-the-hour chimes begin on a high-pitched note, then the melody goes down, whereas the quarter-hour chimes commence with a low-pitched note with melody line going up.
But even within the same pattern the dissimilarities are pretty obvious. I’m not quite sure what is the reason for that, probably this has something to do with the maintenance of the cylinder dotted with pins. As it is moving around each pin triggers a particular note making a melody.
The following are all four sequences in a row followed by a graphical representation of each pattern:
on the hour
at 15 minutes
at 45 minutes
Given the fact that the bell tower is 271 years old, and the chimes are heard four times an hour 24 hours a day, a rough calculation predicts the 1m play looming on the horizon.
There is a good 360° panorama at sergiev.ru which perfectly delivers the spirit of the place, it is worth checking out.
Published March 27, 2012