The Rabbit Family And A Love Letter to Animal Bells

Last week I released The Rabbit Family over at Rabbit Ears Audio, which has prompted a bit of self-reflection. I started this little blog back in 2007 and it is still chugging along. Somewhere along the way it spawned a small business, Rabbit Ears Audio. Both of these sites are very much a labor of love and are creative outlets which I feel lucky to have. I started this blog in order to push myself out the door with my gear more frequently. I later started Rabbit Ears Audio in order to work on my craft with a deliberate purpose.

Rabbit Ears Audio’s primary focus is building collections that are not only useful, but off the beaten path. I run this business in gaps, among numerous other responsibilities, and when I launch a new collection in Rabbit Ears Audio’s growing library, I want it to count. Some of the collections have instant “sex appeal,” like Rockets, Jet Turbines[1], or Antique Engines. And then there are the collections with considerably less sex appeal like Typewriters and Animal Bells.

It is the less sexy ones I seem to love the most. I’ve written a fair amount about my love of typewriters. Animal Bells, however, is the true hidden gem in the Rabbit Family. I’ll never forget the sessions for Animal Bells:

For weeks my pal John Loranger kept sending me pictures of all of these crazy looking animal bells made of everything from brass to oddly shaped gourds. I kept asking him where these photos were coming from, but he just kept teasing me with more photos. When I saw a cow bell big enough to crush the neck of even the strongest Swiss cow, I harassed him until he gave it up.

It turned out that John and his family rented a vacation home, and the house showcases an insane private collection.[2] I tracked down the owner of the house, and made arrangements to record the entire collection over a weekend.

The location wasn’t too far from the home of another old friend, whom I dragged along to perform the bells. He performed the hell of out of those animal bells. Some of the actions include:

  • Short Rattles
  • Medium Rattles
  • Long Rattles
  • Repeated Rattles
  • Animal Meander

My favorite move is the animal meander. I’ll never forget coaching my old friend to “be the goat,” or to “trot like a sheep!”[3] We were on the floor in hysterics many times during those sessions.

I love those animal bells. There is not a ton of “sexy” there, but there is a whole lot of raw power.[4] They might not be flying off the shelves every day, but when you need a goat bell … you need a goat bell.

I’m often asked about the financials of REA, and whether or not running this little business is worth it. I’m never really sure how to answer those questions. I’m sure if I calculated the cost of my time and ran the numbers it wouldn’t make sense on paper, but it has never been about a balance sheet. All I know is that I have a collection of content that is as sexy and just as unsexy as it gets. It has been fun so far.

Lets hope the Rabbit Family keeps growing.

  1. Who doesn’t love a Jet Bike and a Jet Cart?  ↩
  2. I love collectors and gearheads. The guy who owned the place was both. He had a crazy collection of animal bells and crazy audiophile gear. It was meant to be.  ↩
  3. Do sheep trot?  ↩
  4. Iggy knows what I’m talking about. There were also times where I felt as if we were working on the set of “Altered States.”  ↩
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More Bells

For some reason I have a thing for bells.

In the last year I have recorded nautical bells, church bells, buddhist prayer bells, gongs, and all sorts of animal bells. Cow, goat, sheep … you name it I’ve probably recorded it.

I didn’t realize that I had a bell problem until recently. I guess there are worse problems one can have, but it is clear I have a problem.

My most recent bell encounter was another set of church bells. I took a drive up to the country in New York state to visit a secluded Ukrainian Catholic church. The church has a bell tower that is its own structure separate from the church. The bells are not struck with a fancy mechanism, instead they required rope and human intervention. Luckily I was not the guy that had to climb the tower. I safely guarded my hearing from a distance.

The largest bell was about 4 feet in diameter and just rings out for days.

I’m not sure what this recent obsession is about, but it sure doesn’t sound bad.

Recording Geek Note: Rig consists of Schoeps CMC5′s setup for MS, with the MK4 as the mid on the exhaust. It was all tracked to a Sound Devices 744T at 24/192.

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REA_008 Animal Bells

The new Rabbit Ears Audio Library is coming your way next week. REA_008 is a collection of over 15 animal bells with a couple of exotic non-animal bells thrown in as a bonus.

Recording Geek Note: Library was recorded with  Schoeps CMC5′s setup for MS and MKH 30/40′s. It was all tracked to a Sound Devices 744T at 24/96 with a Cooper CS-104 used a front end.

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REA_006 Bells

Just a short overview of the new Rabbit Ears Audio Library, REA_006 BELLS:

More sounds here:

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Buddhist Bell Plate?

I’m hard at work finishing the next Rabbit Ears Audio library, REA_006. The recording has taken me to a bell foundry and percussion rental facility, among others.

I wanted to take a break from editing and post a short clip of one of the more unusual bells I recorded. This bell comes courtesy of Percussionist Jonathan Haas and his percussion rental business, Kettles and Company.  Jonathan told me that he picked up the bell from a Buddhist temple when he was overseas, but didn’t have much more information than that.  I’ve tried to do some cursory research and I’ve seen it most commonly referred to as a “Buddhist Bell Plate” or a “Prayer Bell.”  I’m curious if anyone knows the appropriate name for this bell?

Please hit up the comments if you know the appropriate name of the bell or if you have any materials I can read. I would love to properly identify it in the library. Stay tuned for REA_006 BELLS!

Recording Geek Note: Rig consists of Schoeps CMC5′s setup for MS, with the MK4 as the mid. It was all tracked to a Sound Devices 744T at 24/192.

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