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  • Is a campanelli the same instruments as a glockenspiel?

Although a literal translation of campanelli (It.) is something like "little bells", I thought that campanelli in an instrumentaion setting simply meant "glockenspiel" AKA "orchestral bells", i.e. the series of metallophone bars in a keyboard layout with a standard range written as G3 – C6 (2½ octaves) and sounding two octaves higher (as given in a variety of orchestration manuals).

However, it appears that it isn't always that simple.


I'm looking at a full score of Igor Stravinsky's The Firebird (a ballet).
In the percussion section there is a part for an instrument with the name campanelli (It.) / Колокольчики (Rus.).

At rehearsal mark 98 (about halfway through the piece) a section begins that is called: Magic Carillon, ... (Eng.) / Carillon Féerique, ... (Fr.) / Волшебные Перезвоны ... (Rus.).
The campanelli enters with the instruction sur la scêne, playing the notes E♭3 & G3 written in bass clef:

music staff showing an instrument name abbreviated as "C-lli" (with "sur la scêne" written above the staff), bass clef with a tremolo chord on the notes E-flat and G

This is followed by a few measures of rest, then changes to treble clef and plays a much more prominent solo-like part (in the range G♯5 – D♯6):

music staff showing an instrument name abbreviated as "C-lli", treble clef two bars of rest, then a passage of notes on above the stave

Later in the piece the campanelli has notes as low as B♯4, and as high as F♯6.

The low E♭3, and high F♯6 are beyond the range of a standard glockenspiel.

  • What instrument is meant by campanelli in this score?
  • And what range does it have? Is there an instrument that could play all the notes from written E♭3 – F♯6?

The above is as given in a physical copy of the score that I have, and a 1964 edition I found on IMSLP.

However, in the 1st edition (also found on IMSLP) this instrument's name is given as campanelli for the bass clef part only; a different staff with the instrument name glockenspiel is used for the treble passage. This suggest that different instruments are being used. But interestingly, the instrument list at the start of the document has campanelli only (glockenspiel is not mentioned).

Upon further investigation, IMSLP also provides a copy of the percussion part as a seperate document:

percussion part showing campanelli and glockenspiel separately

This document makes it quite clear that the campanelli and glockenspiel are considered to be different.

  • How are these instruments different?

Watching and listening to some performances (of the ballet Mariinsky Ballet, The Royal Danish Ballet; and of orchestral renditions Vienna Philharmonic, WDR Symphony Orchestra) reveals that the notation for both the treble and bass clef parts are written just 1 octave (rather than 2) below their sounding pitch.

This makes sense of the treble passage, but means the bass clef notes are very low indeed, with the low E♭'s over an octave below the range of a standard glockenspiel.

  • What bell-like instrument can play notes this low?

I don't really understand the sur la scêne (on the stage) instruction. At first I thought it meant that the campanellli would be part of the scene in the ballet; that one of the dancers would be seen to be playing it or something similar. This apparently isn't the case — at least in either of the performances above. The instrument does though play a role in the narrative of the first performance — acting as alarm bells for the palace.

  • What exactly does sur la scêne mean in this context?

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  • I don't suppose some of these are tubular bells? Feb 10, 2023 at 16:22
  • I assume we're talking about the 1910 version here (I don't have a copy of the various other versions).I think that sur la scêne means at stage level (rather than orchestra pit) but hidden behind the scenery.
    – Peter
    Feb 13, 2023 at 12:51
  • @Peter It's the full ballet version (first two files in the IMSLP link) not the suite. Feb 13, 2023 at 12:55
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    @ElementsinSpace Thanks. At figure 98 there are also 3 trumpets marked "sur la scêne" and "derrière la 1re coulisse" which I take to mean "behind the first wing" in a traditional proscenium theatre.
    – Peter
    Feb 13, 2023 at 13:08
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    @ElementsinSpace I think (without any evidence to hand) you're right about the Wagner tubas. Transposition isn't always much of a clue given the total confusion about how Wagner tubas should be notated, but if he'd wanted a 'normal' bass tuba he'd probably have notated it in C.
    – Peter
    Feb 16, 2023 at 11:11

1 Answer 1

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sur la scêne does indeed mean "on the stage". This does not mean that a performance will necessarily follow this instruction.

About the instruments: All editions I’ve seen mark this as "Camp. sur la scéne", which should be "Campane sur la scéne", which in a mixture of italian and french would be "bells on the stage". You can for example see this in this performance:

Italian "campanelli" would be the same as German "Glockenspiel" (and nothing to do with actual bells). And no, this type of instrument does not play that low. But actual bells can go quite low easily, although it is not always easy to define the base pitch of a bell like instrument.

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