Percussion instrument of the category of idiophones, constituted by a hollow, concave tube, made of bronze or other metal, of determined loudness. Frequently asked by composers in limited scope sets, the bells are struck by an interpreter, or automatically, of predefined form, using a clock mechanism. Predecessor of instruments like carillon or tubular bells, the bell served the musical practice of early Western civilizations (Mesopotamia, Babylon, 2nd millennium BC) and (China, 5th century BC). Since at least the 5th century BC is documented the fixing of several bells on a frieze, struck with one or two small hammer (s) by an interpreter; date of century II a. C. the use of automatic mechanisms for the percussion of bells.
Percival Prive, Helen Street & Bodman Rae, “Chimes” in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Macmillan, 2001.