Plate bells - Sound production
When playing a set of bell plates the percussionist is faced with the following difficulties: the great distance between the plates, their differing size, damping and keeping an eye both on the score and the conductor. Long sequences can only be played at a slow tempo or require a great deal of practice, especially with regard to the exact damping of notes.
The sound is influenced by the weight and hardness of the mallet: soft mallets bring the fundamental more to the fore while hard ones favor the higher partials.
The striking spot in the center of the plate produces a clear fundamental, while striking the plate in the top or bottom third (still in the middle) produces a sound so rich in harmonics that the fundamental can be masked.
The musician damps the resonance with the hand.
It should be noted that the whole body is required to damp the resonance of the largest plates, hopefully not with the result that both plate and percussionist swing back and forth through the concert hall (-: