‘Boring’, ‘Oldfashioned’, ‘Carillon what?’. People’s response to carillon music is usually not that outrageous. But there are ways to bring these medieval sounds to the 21st century. In Ghent, we use our 14th-century Belfry to do that. The region – roughly, Belgium and the North of France – is littered with Unesco World Heritage belfries. Those belfries were important representations of civil independence and their bells were used for marking the routine in daily life. Today, the towers form the city skyline and are popular tourist stops on city trips.
Besides looking at our belfry, I often listen to it. Every day, every quarter of the hour, a specific song is played. The 4 songs are chosen by the public by online voting every two years. This time we even got votes from New York and Hanoi.
You can recognize ‘Perfect Day’ by Lou Reed, ‘Bluesette’ by Belgian jazz legend Toots Tielemans and ‘Ruimtevaarder’ by the Belgian band Kommil Foo. Song number four is Boven Gent Rijst (Above Ghent Rises) also known as Klokke Roeland. ‘Klokke Roeland’ is the clock that hangs in the concrete base next to the City Pavilion and the song about the bell is the unofficial anthem of the citizens of Ghent.
Being creative with a carillon pays off. Since 2009, Ghent has been known as a Unesco Creative City of Music. Be a part of this creative title & try to recognize which songs are playing when on our belfry. You can try it all day long, every 15 minutes.