Did you know that the world’s largest bell was made in Russia? Ironically, it cracked before it could be heard.
Now UC Berkeley has replicated the sound that the 200-ton bell was intended to make. Sound engineers and researchers brought the imaginary bell to campus on Friday.
It’s the sound millions of Russians have imagined but have never heard. The frequency was so low that it makes your body tremble.
“It’s like a really low base and it’s more like a rumble,” UC Berkeley Professor Greg Niemeyer said.
Niemeyer made it his project to recreate the sound of the Tsar Bell built in 1735, commissioned by Anna of Russia.
Taking a mathematical approach, Niemeyer calculated the thickness, shape, movement and the materials used to make the bell.
Olya Dubatova gave a historical prospective of the bells in her native Russia. “Bells have always been important in Russian culture,” she said. “And they brought people together, they brought communities together, they alerted people, they had so many different functions.”
Most of the bells were destroyed under Communist rule because they were considered a religious artifact. Ironically, the Tsar Bell survived because it had been damaged shortly after it was cast.
“There was a fire when the bell was still underground. The workers there were worried the bell would somehow melt. But they cooled it off with water and cooling it off with water actually made it crack,” Niemeyer said.
Today the bell lives outside the Kremlin for all to see but not hear.
The width of the Tsar Bell is 22 feet, the height is 20 feet. It weighs more than 200 tons. If it were here, it would fit nicely within this space.
Trusses hold the big speakers used to bring the imaginary bell to life. On Friday at midday, its low pitch joined in with the sounds of the 23 bells from the Campanile as if to say, “From Russia with love.”