This metal combination results in a robust, long-lasting material that is resistant to oxidation and only suffers from minor surface weathering. The combination of low internal damping and low internal sound velocity, in particular, makes bell metal particularly ideal for resonant percussion instruments.
Other materials used for musical instruments include glass, wood, and ceramic. Each of these has advantages and disadvantages that make it suitable for certain instruments but not others. For example, glass is lightweight and very brittle, so it's not ideal for instruments that are likely to be dropped or hit hard. Wood is heavy but very flexible and resilient, which means it can be used for instruments that need to transmit the vibration of the bow or drumstick to the body of the instrument (such as guitars and basses). Ceramic is very hard but also very fragile, so it's not recommended for use on instruments that are played frequently at high volumes.
Metal sounds good when played properly, and metal instruments are some of the most popular in traditional music. Metal drums were originally made of brass because copper alloys are harder than bronze but less dense. Brass is a term used for any metal alloy containing significant amounts of zinc and copper. It may also contain other metals such as gold, silver, lead, and tin. In fact, before steel drums came along in the 19th century, metal drums were mostly made of brass.
Bell metal is a strong alloy that is used to make bells and other musical instruments such as cymbals. It is a kind of bronze with a greater tin content, often with a copper-to-tin ratio of about 4:1. The higher the tin percentage, the more stiff the metal and the lower the resonance. Church bells are made from bronze because it can be cast into the correct shape without breaking down under the strain of being struck. This would be impossible if they were made from iron because iron when hot will bend instead of staying in shape like wood does when it's cold.
Bronze has been used since ancient times for making bells because it can be melted at a low temperature and won't crack or break like silver will if you try to use it for making instruments. Bronze was also the only metal available during much of history, so people had to do what they could with what they had. Iron came later and it's stronger than bronze. But it takes heat very well so it's no good for making bells that are played at room temperature.
Bronze was first invented around 3000 B.C. by someone who didn't know how to work with iron yet! They just knew how to beat sheets of gold and silver foil into thin strips and then roll them up into balls which they stuck into wooden frames to use as bellows in religious ceremonies. These early bells were always made out of gold or silver because only those metals sound good when beaten hard with mallets.
Bells intended to produce an useful sound are often created by casting bell metal, a bronze alloy. Tin and copper are both relatively soft metals that distort when struck. By alloying, a harder and more rigid metal is generated, but it also has greater flexibility than using one metal alone. This allows the bell to sound without breaking.
The first bells were probably made of silver or gold, but as these metals are very expensive they were replaced by bronze, which is less dense but has similar properties to silver or gold. Bronze was originally used because it was easier to work with than silver or gold, but over time people started adding more tin to the mixture to make it harder while keeping the other ingredients constant. Today, most bronze used in art is made of 75% tin and 25% copper. They are hard enough to not break but still have some flexibility so they can be molded into different shapes.
Bronze bells were popular throughout most of history because they could be made in many different sizes and tones. For example, large church bells could take months or even years to cast, so instead they were usually made up of multiple parts that could be added or removed depending on how long they were going to remain in one place. This allowed them to be repaired or updated at any time without having to start from scratch.
In the 14th century, metal tongues began to replace bones as the main source of energy to drive bells.
The majority of bells are constructed of bronze, a copper-tin alloy. Bronze produces the finest sound and resonance of all known metals and alloys, and the sound it produces with a single hit can persist for a few seconds. This is what most people anticipate from a bell. Modern metalworking techniques allow for intricate designs to be cast into the metal, resulting in decorated bells that are functional art.
Bells were first cast from silver or gold, but these days most bells are made from bronze because it can be beaten into any shape without breaking and will not tarnish like gold or silver will. Bells have been cast since about 3000 B.C., so they have been around for quite a while!
Bells were used extensively by ancient civilizations for signaling purposes. They could be heard for miles under normal circumstances which makes them useful for alerting soldiers, hunters, farmers, etc. of an emergency situation. Bells also served as religious objects for many cultures throughout history. Some religions even prescribe that bells should be rung when performing certain actions such as opening a church window or releasing doves.
Because of their usefulness and cultural significance, bells have been used in folklore and fairy tales everywhere in the world. For example, in Germany there is a story called "Der Goldene Löwe" (The Golden Lion) about a lion who was turned into a bell that could talk.