“Volteo” (full rotation) bell concert using Belltron linear motors
Date: May 19, 2014
A wonderful concert of eight “volteo” swinging bells, unique in the world because of its distinctive swinging system, can now be heard in Menorca at the Cathedral of Santa Maria. The cast bronze bells are driven by the Belltron linear motors: no mechanical parts subject to wear and tear, the bells are simply driven by an electromagnetic field.
The church of Santa Maria, in the Catalan Gothic style, was built between the XIII and XIV century and has just recently been restored. The bell tower has eight cast bronze bells of different sizes made by the Voegele company from Strasbourg, which was also in charge of the construction of the wooden structure of the bells.
In Spain it is tradition to play a bell that turns 360 degrees, hence the name "Volteo" for this type of bell playing, ie full rotation. Typically they are played by hand, today, for the first time in the world, they are swung and scheduled to play using the Belltron linear motor systems.
Three main difficulties should be kept in mind:
1) To play the “Volteo” system with bells that are often very heavy, large and bulky in their size and shape, make this electronic system very useful from a practical point of view without losing the possibility to play them in the traditional manner whenever necessary;
2) To produce the "canglore": a typical sound of Spanish religious music culture. It is the repetitive and fast sound of an “idiofono” instrument , not intentionally "tuned" according to our own customs. The sound of “volteo” bells remind us of the Book of King David, where in several verses the king sings the glory of God with dances and sounds of cymbals and bells in a fast paced and repetitive manner;
3) The Church Cathedral Santa Maria is subject to the wear of mechanisms due to the immediacy to the sea. The linear motors have a total lack of maintenance required as there are no mechanical moving parts subject to wear due to environmental influences such as salt. The bell is free to swing without friction and can be rope pulled too.
With great satisfaction of the rector of the Cathedral, Father Josep and bell specialist Dr. Albert Gil Iriondo, every day the bells ring their “volteo” concerts.