1946 Deagan Electric Chimes
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A Vintage Tube Amplified Carillon by JC Deagan
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John Calhoun Deagan was born in New York in 1853 and studied music at the University of London during his time serving with the Navy in English waters. He became increasingly interested in the science of sound after attending a series of lectures by German scientist Hermann von Helmholtz. Having undertook a series of experiments he made a number of historically important contributions to the science behind tuned percussive instrument design including the definition of standard universal pitch as being 440Hz.
Although tuned percussive instruments had long since been in existence JC Deagan was perhaps the most significant figure in the field to transform often seen as crude novelties into well respected percussive orchestral instruments with exceptional tuned harmonic characteristics.
Perhaps one of the most influential of the JC Deagan instruments is the orchestral marimba as we know it today.
Musical bell design with exceptional tonal qualities
As well as being synonymous with high quality tuned percussive orchestral instruments, JC Deagan also specialised in musical bell design with exceptional tonal qualities. These were produced in all shapes and sizes but it was to be the larger carillons for use in churches and public buildings where JC was to really excel. As electromechanical technology developed during the turn of the century the systems grew and became much more sophisticated resulting in some massive public bell tower installations.
For a short period of time JC Deagan produced a series of small electric carillons based on arrays of skilfully tuned chime rods tube amplified by pickup coils and actuated by solenoids and felt dampers. Deagan’s “Canto Chimes” were built circa 1946-1952. It is one of these rare instruments that formed the basis for this sampled offering following the overhaul of the amplifier chassis much in need of new capacitors after nearly 70 years of service.