Hand chimes are musical instruments similar to handbells. They are rung using the hands, and many handbell techniques can be applied to hand chimes. When combined, the two create a new and different timbre. They are tuned during manufacture and do not require external tuning. Hand chimes are inexpensive, lightweight and resilient instruments.
Hand chimes are used today to play music. Originally, they were intended to train novice handbell ringers and are commonly played in conjunction with handbells. Hand chimes are also frequently used in classroom settings to teach music to children. Churches and senior citizen centers also incorporate hand chimes. They are used for entertainment, socialization and enhancing worship.
Hand chimes are metal tubes made of aluminum alloy, which are slotted and cut. They feature a clapper mechanism that is mounted on the outside of the instruments. They are available in various lengths and diameters. Hand chimes readily lend themselves to slower tempos but an experienced player can produce most any type of music.
There are many ways to play hand chimes. However, they are usually arranged in a chromatic layout from left to right, so that the left-most chime is the lowest in pitch and the right-most chime is the highest in pitch. Sometimes a single player will play just one pitch on a single hand chime. Other times, a single player will play both the sharp and flat of their designated note.
Hand chimes require minimal maintenance. They should be handled carefully, as with any quality instrument, and they will last many years. A periodic wipe of the chime tubes with a wet napkin or clean, damp cloth will keep them clean and sanitary.
Hand chimes should never be played forcefully and are not intended to be played loudly. They sound best when gently manipulated to produce sound. Also, playing them boisterously can result in damage to the chime tube or tines.
Hand chimes should always be stored wrapped in soft cloth and placed on cloth, carpet or foam to avoid damage. The clapper head settings should also never be changed. They are set in the factory for optimal performance.