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National Carillon to go electronic for lunchtime concert

When you hear warbling reverberating from the National Carillon on Friday, you can rest assured it isn't a magpie residing in one of its bronze bells.

Augmented sound effects will be paired with the peal of bells ringing out from the 50-metre-high tower for the first time during a special electrillon concert.

Fifteen artists from Australian National University composed the pieces solely for the concert, run with the assistance of the National Capital Authority.

Senior carillonist Dr Thomas Laue is also an ANU music lecturer.

He tasked his composition students with creating a piece to complement the bells, which weigh up to six tonnes.

"One student uses an early morning magpie he recorded at his house. He wrote the bells piece to emulate the birds," Dr Laue said. 

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"[When they hear about this] people think it's the bells being replaced by electronics but it's more about the electronic sound complementing the bells."

Technician Craig Greening said the bells would be used in real time and manipulated via software by Dr Laue.​

Then they will be redirected it out to the PA in the bell tower so the sound is "coincident with the acoustic bells".

"There's also play-back in some pieces which is balanced with the acoustic bells. This is one of the first time this kind of collaboration between natural bell sound and manipulated effects has been done," Mr Greening said. 

One of the composition students featured in the concert, Ben Drury described the pairing of the bells and the pre-recorded pieces like a "duet".

"My piece Untitled uses the sound of a harpsichord in reverse and samples from one of [Dr Laue's] previous Carillon concerts," Mr Drury said.

"This is a very unique concert for the Carillon as you wouldn't normally be able to perform something like a duet."

The concert - which could be the first of many - will run from 12.30pm to 1.20pm.