Wind chimes are one of the most popular outdoor decorations, but most people don’t know much about them outside of picking one that they like based on how it sounds or looks. If you know the different parts of a wind chime, you can learn how to pick one that works better or even create your own.
The parts of a wind chime include the hanger, the suspension cord, the suspension platform, wind chime tubes, a striker, and a wind chime sail. Each part of the wind chime plays a different role in making the wind chime’s musical tones and is essential for allowing the wind chime to work.
There are many different types of wind chimes in the world, but most of them conform to this basic structure. Read on to learn more about the different parts of a wind chime and how they work together to make music.
What Are the Parts of a Wind Chime?
There are six basic parts to almost all wind chimes, though some primitive wind chimes contain less. These are the parts found in almost every standard wind chime (Source: National Artcraft):
- Hanger/O-ring: The hanger for the wind chime (usually made up of a metal O-ring) is the part of the wind chime that is used to hang the wind chime up from an eave or ceiling. The hanger has to be sturdy to prevent the wind chime’s weight from pulling the wind chime to the ground.
- Suspension cord: The suspension cord is the part of the wind chime that connects the hanger to the suspension platform. The types of materials used for wind chime suspension cords include metal chains, silk cording, and plastic threading similar to fishing lines.
- Wind chime tubes: The wind chime tubes are the part of the wind chime that hangs vertically and are blown into the striker by the wind’s movement. This movement is the action that creates the music of the wind chimes.
- Striker/clappers: The striker is the central part of the wind chime that hangs down between the wind chime tubes by the suspension cord. When the wind chime tubes knock against the striker, it creates a musical tone. The striker is sometimes also known as the clapper.
- Sail: The sail is the part of the wind chime that hangs down at the bottom of the suspension cord and catches the wind to drag the striker into the wind chime tubes. Some wind chimes may be designed with a cosmetic sail that is not effective at catching the wind.
Each of the parts of a wind chime may seem simple on its own. However, removing any one part of the wind chime will prevent it from working at all. Some wind chimes are designed to create complicated musical tones, while others are so simple that a child could make them.
Where Do Wind Chimes Come From?
Wind chimes can be found worldwide, but the oldest wind chimes discovered have been found mostly in ancient Rome and China. Among the first wind chimes used were the tintinnabulum used in ancient Rome. These wind chimes were formed from a series of bronze bells. (Source: University of Chicago)
In China, wind chimes were and still are commonly associated with feng shui, the practice of arranging interior decorations to promote positive energy flow throughout the house. Wind chimes are traditionally placed in the western or northwestern corner or a home or room. (Source: Onmanorama)
What Are Wind Chimes Made Out Of?
One of the reasons wind chimes are so popular is that they can be made from a wide variety of different materials. These materials allow wind chimes to be designed along with many different aesthetic themes and influence how wind chimes sound when they’re struck.
Here are some of the most popular materials used in making wind chimes (Source: Music House Musings):
- Hard metals: Examples of hard metals used in wind chimes include meals such as steel and anodized aluminum. Hard metals are chosen for wind chimes when a sharp, short musical tone is desired.
- Soft metals: Soft metals make a softer tone than hard metals, and one of the most popular soft metals used in wind chimes is copper. Copper wind chimes are more vulnerable to corrosion from exposure to the atmosphere, so a weather-resistant coating to prevent this is often used.
- Glass: Glass makes a high-pitched and tinkling noise compared to the sound of many wind chimes, and glass chimes are among the most fragile wind chimes constructed. Crystal is one type of glass commonly used in wind chimes, and some also incorporate mirrors. Glass wind chimes may be damaged if left out in high winds.
- Wood: Wooden wind chimes produce an atonal clacking noise that is uniquely distinct among wind chimes. Wooden wind chimes are often used around gardens where the property owner is trying to deter wildlife since the noise of the wind chimes can scare them away. Bamboo is a popular choice of wood for wind chimes.
Wind chimes may incorporate one or all of the above materials in their construction. Other materials that are sometimes found in wind chimes include natural materials such as shells or clay pottery pieces. Because they are relatively simple to construct with the right parts, wind chimes are a popular arts-and-crafts project for older children or teenagers.
Can You Buy Individual Wind Chime Parts?
In addition to purchasing full wind chimes, people can also purchase individual wind chime parts such as the chime tubes, O-rings, cording, or strikers. This allows people to build their own wind chimes at home according to their personal designs.
Another advantage of buying individual wind chime parts is that you can replace any part of a wind chime that becomes damaged or worn. If you contact the company that originally made your wind chime, you may even be able to get a part that is an exact replica of the piece that was damaged.
Types of Wind Chime Tones
The different types of wind chimes create different wind chime tones. The two major types of tones generated by wind chimes are as follows:
- Pentatonic scale: Wind chimes in a pentatonic scale create five tones per octave. This scale is also known as the five-note scale. Pentatonic scale tones are common in East Asian wind chimes. The major notes that form the tones in a pentatonic wind chime will always create a harmonious sound.
- Major scale: The major scale is a seven-tone scale that creates a cheerful and positive sound. A wind chime that incorporates the major scale will create both harmonious and dissonant tones depending on how the chimes hit the striker.
Along with wind chimes that create a pentatonic or major scale, there are some wind chimes that make atonal or dissonant noises, such as clacking wood wind chimes. Brushing your hand gently across the sail of the wind chime so that the chime tubes hit the striker can give you an idea of how each wind chime sounds before you purchase it.
Wind Chimes Are a Wonderful Addition to Any Home
Wind chimes may be simply made, but this simple decoration is a complement to almost any outdoor patio area or interior design. Even when wind chimes aren’t placed in an area where they will be affected by the wind, they add beauty and charm to the space.