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How Wind Chimes Make Noise

There are several different types of wind chimes that make noise in different ways.  All wind chimes are percussion instruments.  That means the noise is created when a hammer or clapper strikes another part of the wind chime and causes the air around it to resonate.  Different materials and arrangements produce different tones.

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Some wind chimes are collections of small bells.  Each bell has a clapper, and as the wind moves the bell, the clapper hits it and the bell rings.  Each bell produces a single tone.  Japanese wind bells and a Buddhist sixteen bell chime are examples of this type of wind chime.

Some wind chimes are more like a gong, where a hammer strikes one or more flat or curved circular plates.  They fill the air with the resonating sound of a gong.  An example is a Japanese Emperor gong.

Another type of wind chime is made of suspended objects that strike one another when the wind moves them.  These chimes may not make music; they may have a more percussive noise.  These chimes are easy to make out of common household items, such as nuts and bolts or knives and spoons.

The most common type of wind chime is made of hollow tubes or solid rods which are struck by a solid clapper.  These chimes are often tuned to produce specific sounds that are pleasing to the ear.   

Sometimes, such as with pagoda wind chimes, tubular chimes are combined with bells.  This gives a combination of the tinkling sound of bells and the chime of rods.

No matter what kind of wind chime you are talking about, the wind is what initiates the noise.  If the air is still, the wind chime doesn’t make any noise. 

The wind creates the amount of noise a wind chime makes.  A gentle breeze might produce a gentle tinkling sound, whereas a howling wind could produce a vigorous clanging.  Some wind chimes will give different sounds when the wind blows from different directions.

Whether a wind chime is made of bells, gongs, tuned rods or household junk, the noise it makes is produced when the wind blows through it, causing one part to strike against another and causing the air to resonate.