The Making of the Harmonic Canon

Bell Music is sponsoring Dominic Murcott's Harmonic Canon tour this month. He has had a bespoke 1/2 tonne bell that spins whilst it's played. An amazing project that we're excited to be a part of. We are providing the additional percussion Dominic needs to compliment his creation.

Here Dominic Explains how his project came about and his journey to date. If you can get along to any of the concerts or workshops I sincerely suggest that you do so.


Classical percussionists don’t have it easy: they have to adapt their playing across a vast range of instruments that are constantly changing. Every time a new piece comes along it might mean learning a unique setup of unfamiliar instruments. Can you imagine asking a violinist to play double bass one day and three violins simultaneously the next?

Perhaps as a result of this (or just because of obsessive personalities), percussionists and drummers love gear! Find a one that doesn’t get a buzz from a shiny set of toys waiting to be hit.

I’ve been working with sculptor Marcus Vergette and between us, we have come up with a truly unique set of toys: a huge array of metal percussion surrounding a custom built ½ tonne spinning double bell!

Harmonic Canon - Bell Music 





Both the bell and my composition for it are called The Harmonic Canon and the recording is about to be released on nonclassical with a six-date UK tour to coincide with it.

It’s being performed by a virtuosic Japanese/US pair of percussionists called arx duo who also made the recording and it’s really not easy!



The Harmonic Canon itself is two computer-design bells tuned a semi-tone apart. Ridges on the bells produce different tones when struck so it there is lots of variety possible. There are four other tuned instruments: vibraphone, pedaled glockenspiel plus almglocken (tuned cowbells) and an aluphone. The latter is a Danish instrument designed in 2011 made up of different sized aluminum cones (they were originally fence post tops so the story goes). The deepest sounds of the piece come from a low gong and large tam tam and the setup is completed with two sets of hi-hats and a dozen cymbals.  


The Harmonic Canon stage setup

Moving a ½ tonne bell is hopelessly impractical, never mind all the other gear, but somehow it works and really is quite a spectacle. The piece has a had a great reception so far and won the 2018 BASCA British Composer Award for best solo or duo work. You can check out the dates of the tour and watch a video of the piece here. The final show is in the circular gallery of the Royal Albert Hall which will be fun. If you make it to any shows come and say hello and we would love to show you around the instruments.

Finally a huge thanks to Bell Music for providing the extra percussion.

Dominic Murcott



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