After deciding it would be uniquely appealing to use handbells as part of the accompaniment music for "Just A Closer Walk with Thee" and "Amazing Grace," the next step was to find handbell music scores for these hymns, and in the keys they were already recorded in from the hymnals. Internet searches failed to find any such scores for handchime and handbells that were:
That meant I needed to find an arranger to create the needed arrangement scores. I made inquiries to all persons listed on the page of the Handbell Musicians Association who advertised they offer arranging services for handbells.(1) Mr. Larry Sue responded he was available to do so. Thus, Mr. Sue wrote the handchime and handbell accompaniment arrangements heard on:
Mr. Sue is a published handbell composer/arranger, and is the author of The Bass Ringer’s Notebook, Second Edition.(2) He has been a church musician for most of his life.
He became a handbell musician in 1987 in a workshop music conference. He subsequently became a bass-ringing specialist when the five-octave bell choir at his church became shorthanded. He received a long-term assignment of -
The C and D handbells in octave 4 (CD4) "and anything to the left that you can manage.”
For those not familiar with handbell pitches and ringing position descriptions, a CD4 ringing position indicates it is for both the C and D bells, which are at the bottom of octave 4. Octave 4 progresses upward to B at the top before octave 5 begins with C (middle C). The reference to anything to the left that you can manage, refers to the lower pitched bell ringing positions going down the scale (getting larger and heavier), i.e., down into octave 3, and if the organization has any, then those from octave 2 as well.
In the dropdown local menu under Handbells, you can access the page for "Major (English) Hand Bell Manufacturers," which contains a table of sizes of handbells made by each manufacturer. Keep in mind, for bells made by Schulmerich & Whitechapel, the table of handbell sizes only shows the seven (7) notes in the diatonic scale. It does not show the additional sharp pitched bells enabling a chromatic scale of 12 equally spaced half/semi pitches. (While in in that table, Schulmerich and Whitechapel do make those intermediate pitched bells.)
Handbell (or handchime) pitches are not labeled with flats (b) designating pitches. All half-step handbell pitches between whole note pitches are instead expressed as sharps (#'s). Thus, a bell labeled as an F# bell has the same pitch as what could be labled (but isn't) a Gb bell.
-- End of Window on Other Other Handbell Information --
Mr. Sue spent sixteen years with the Valley Ringers (Cupertino, CA) and eight years with Son Ringers (Mountain View, CA). He also performed with Bay Bells, one of the longest-running community handbell ensembles on the West Coast. He directed the Alleluia Ringers at Los Altos United Methodist Church, Los Altos, CA until the summer of 2016.
As the founder, leader, and composer/arranger of Low Ding Zone, the World’s First Bass-Only Handbell Ensemble, he was their Artistic Figurehead for eight years. He proved the upper musical staff isn’t absolutely essential to the world of handbells.
His experience also includes performing at Distinctly Bronze West (3) and the Bay View Week of Handbells,(4) plus many other more local handbell events, as well as occasional forays into the area of bass handbell solos.
His festival conducting experiences include the:
He frequently provides instruction as a bass handbell clinician. “On the outside,” he works full time as a software engineer, with sidelines in music teaching and piano tuning, and has been running his music publishing company, Choraegus, since 1995.
Larry and Carla were married in 2012. (Carla is one of the best ringers from England. They met at a Bay View Week of Handbells.)
In 2016 they moved to Holland, Michigan. They started a new adventure there by embarking on creating new arrangements for just eight bells, which they play together. Their repertoire of handbells for two extends across the entire spectrum of hymns, classical music, Christmas carols, and folk music. They continue to be surprised at just how many musical selections can be played using just eight notes. (5, 6)
For those not familiar with the handbell playing technique known as four-in-hand ringing, in the above picture, both Carla and Larry are holding two bells in each hand, and each bell is held perpendicular to the other in that hand. (Thus, four bells by one person.) Because the clapper in handbells only swings in a plane, by turning their wrist so only one of the two bells is swung in the plane of the bell's clapper, only that bell will ring. Thus, between the two of them, they can play eight individual notes as needed without putting down and picking up any of the other bells shown on the table in front of them.
After moving to Holland, Michigan in 2016, Larry subsequently became a member of the Kalamazoo Ringers, where he enjoys being part of the bass section.
Larry and Carla are available to teach classes and workshops in various handbell techniques, and to perform their 8-bell arrangements for two-ringers at concerts, weddings, corporate events, memorial services, church services, and other events in Michigan and beyond. They may be reached via email at: Larry-and-Carla-eMail.
* Information on this page was assembled from materials found on https://www.choraegus.com; Larry Sue; exchanges with Mr. Sue; and searches of the internet. It is used with permission from Mr. Sue.
1 Handbell Musicians Association: List of persons providing clinician and other servicess, http://handbellmusicians.org/events-networking/handbell-networking/1367-2/
2 Bass Ringer’s Notebook, Second Edition, 2017, https://www.choraegus.com/ring/bass-ringers-notebook/
3 Distinctly Bronze West is a production of the Handbell Musicians Association. It provides the opportunity to perform on the largest handbell sets available.
DISTINCTLY BRONZE is the Handbell Musicians Association's premier massed ringing event for advanced handbell musicians. Two events are held each year; one on the east coast and one on the west.
4 Bay View Week of Handbells “The Bay View Week of Handbells exists to give advanced ringers an opportunity to prepare a concert to be performed at a high professional level.” Founded in 1978, The Bay View Week of Handbells has become a destination for advanced handbell ringers from throughout the world. It takes place in northern Michigan on the picturesque shores of Lake Michigan. Ringers are assigned positions in ten choirs, using sets of handbells and chime instruments ranging from five to eight octaves.
5 List of songs Larry and Carla Sue have arranged for 8-bells that can be played together, see https://www.choraegus.com/ring/eight-bell-music/.
6 Current performance repertoire of eight handbells, see Larry and Carla Performance repertoire.
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