Wind Chime Q&A

Where are Mountain Song Wind Chimes imported from?

They're not... unless you live outside Australia, in which case the answer is 'Australia'. We are privileged and humbled to be able to live and work and make wind chimes in the Lucky Country, which is why we say "Humbly made in Australia!"

Should I hang my Mountain Song Wind Chimes under cover and away from severe weather?

Obviously, Mountain Song Wind Chimes are made for outdoor use! To ensure they are resilient and able to withstand Australian conditions, materials such as the woodwork for support, striker, and windcatcher are finished in a quality marine-grade water-based polyurethane, manufactured specifically for Aussie weather, with usually more coats applied than the manufacturer recommends. It will, of course, eventually degrade if exposed directly and mercilessly to hot sun - it's the UV that does it -  but that will take a while. In general, if the wind chimes can be afforded some shade, perhaps hanging on a covered deck or within the protection of a tree's foliage, they will last longer without too much attention.

What is the cord used to suspend Mountain Song Wind Chimes from the support plate, and will it wear or break?

The cord currently used to suspend chimes from the support plate is 'micro paracord', made in the same way and to the same specifications as parachute cord, but simply not as thick. We use 1mm and 2mm micro paracord, a single length of which is easily capable of taking the weight of an entire set of our larger wind chimes. (We don't make a habit of that, though!) Paracord is made with a tough stranded nylon core, over which an outer nylon mesh is woven - this makes it very strong and resilient to wear. Paracord is UV-stabilized and will not become subject to/degraded by fungal growth or rot. Used in this application, it should be many years before it would need attention. And just in case of the most unlikely event of breakage, all Mountain Song Wind Chimes are individually suspended from the support plate - which means that they won't all come crashing down!

Why are the cord holes drilled at different distances from the top of each chime - why not just make them all the same?  

The physics of a vibrating tube dictate very specifically the point(s) at which that tube may be suspended, if the suspension arrangement is not to dampen vibration. The so-called 'node' at which the hole may be placed must be 22.42% from one or other end. A surprisingly small deviation from this can have a marked effect on the chimes' ringing quality.

Why aren't Mountain Song Wind Chimes painted or coated?  Won't they rust?  

A. Aluminium wind chimes cut from pre-coated or anodized tube stock - if the tube ends were rounded or otherwise formed - would not be coated in the machined areas.  (Painting, coating, or anodizing after cutting and machining is potentially a more expensive proposition). Aluminium exposed to the atmosphere quickly and naturally forms a very tough oxide layer, which - if the tube has already been polished - will maintain the polished appearance very well. Aluminium is a resilient material, and does not rust or otherwise tarnish. If the oxide layer is damaged or ruptured, it will simply re-oxodise and 'self-heal'. Over long periods, certain salt deposits might cause surface pitting if left in place, so it is advisable just to wipe down the chimes with methylated spirits and a microfibre cloth from time to time to remove any adhering dust and residue.

What influences the musical note (or pitch, = vibrational frequency) of each chime, and how do you tune them?

A. The factors affecting the pitch of a chime are the material it is made from and its density (Mountain Song Wind Chimes are usually aluminium), the tube's outer diameter, its wall thickness, and its length. Since for a given stock of tubing the material type, diameter and thickness are already set, realistically the only remaining variable is its length. For a particular frequency (musical note) the length can be calculated fairly easily. Inconsistencies in stock manufacture, however, invariably mean that there will be some small error introduced. Therefore, we usually cut chimes a little overlength, determine the actual pitch, and then recalculate to trim it to optimal length. And if we cut too much off ...? then it can be the starting point for the next one up! The vibrational frequency of the chime is measured using a microphone and audio spectrum analyzer. It's not such an easy process - it is a characteristic of any bell (tubular or bell-shaped) that there are many simultaneous modes of vibration, all at their own - often unrelated - frequencies. Finding and measuring the one you want is a bit of an art.

Why do Mountain Song Wind Chimes hang so that the chimes are level at the bottom - why not so that they're centred? And why is the striker set at the lower end of the chime?

A. Without doubt, the best place to strike a chime (or regular bell) is right at the tube-end/lip.* (Think of how and where a clapper strikes a bell-shaped bell - half way up the side?) In fact, you would strike a chime near its mid-point deliberately to inhibit certain vibration modes and harmonics, to deaden the sound.** OK, there is a bit of leeway in all of this, but in general the principle holds true. So, obviously, if there is only one striker and it must make contact with all the chimes at or close to the end of each, they must be arranged to hang more or less at the same level.*** 
* i.e. to excite all vibrational modes and available harmonics
** the effect becomes more marked with increasing chime size
*** top ends of the chimes could be level instead, but the striker works less well when it is too close to the support plate

Why does the windcatcher on some chime sets hang at an angle, rather than straight down?

A. Hanging the windcatcher at an angle from the perpendicular allows it to catch vertical as well as horizontal airflows, which can often occur near the ground.  It also helps prevent the windcatcher from simply spinning wildly in a breeze, rather than doing useful work in moving the striker.

Some Mountain Song Wind Chimes' windcatchers seems quite chunky (and heavy) - why is that?

A. Experience has shown that if the windcatcher is too light, there is a possibility that it might just flutter ineffectually on the end of its cord, without transferring energy to the striker and so to the chimes. If it has some mass to it, this is less likely to happen. Additionally, the extra mass of the windcatcher gives it a pendulum effect hanging below the striker, which tends to make better use of the wind in gusty conditions.

What musical notes do you recommend for my Mountain Song Wind Chimes?  Can they be tuned to my favourite song?  

Answer coming soon :-)

If you can get the same note from a 16mm diameter chime as a 40mm diameter chime, just by cutting each tube size to the right length, why should I buy the larger (and more expensive!) ones?

Answer coming soon :-)

Most of the Mountain Song Wind Chime ranges seem to have five chimes as standard - why is that (why not more)?

Answer coming soon :-)

Chromatic tuners, multiple fundamentals, missing fundamentals(!), modes, overtones/harmonics, etc - why this ain't as easy as you'd think!

Witness marks in the materials - why?