Exploring the Sounds of the Middle Ages

caldwell news


The metal spiral stairway hugs the historic stone wall, winding up to one wooden plateau, continuing to another and another until finally reaching the top of the tower, where the bells live.

During a field trip this semester, Three Penn freshman made their way up those 149 narrow steps, along with their professor, Mary Channen Caldwell, during a field trip this semester to The Church of the Holy Trinity in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square to learn about the carillon bells.

Their freshman seminar course, “Hearing (in) the Middle Ages,” explores a range of sounds heard throughout the medieval period, whether produced by people, instruments, bells, or animals.

“Bells are one of the most iconic medieval sounds,” says Caldwell, Assistant Professor of Music. “When we are talking about the sounds of the Middle Ages, it is important to talk about the voice of bells. The bell was literally the largest and loudest-sounding object.”

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