New Book on Bells Just Released

When Jaan Whitehead was a little girl, she marveled at a collection of handheld bells gathered from all corners of the globe by her intrepid great-grandmother. Proudly displayed in a curio in the family’s dining room, the bells told the story of a life well-lived, of adventures in far-off lands, and of the peoples and cultures that fashioned these wonderful objects.

The bells eventually found their way into Jaan’s own apartment in New York City, inspiring a curiosity in all things that ting-a-ling. In her travels, she would research and write about the bells and peoples she came across. Eventually, those stories came together in the aptly named new book: Bells: Music, Art, Culture, and Politics from around the World.

Bells is, above all, a love letter to the magic and mysticism of bells. The book explores bells’ political and religious power, their musicality, and their ubiquitous presence in cultures the world over. Bells have been the voice of gods, the soundtrack of sacred rituals, and talismans for early monastics. In secular society, they have kept the time in town squares and school halls. Firemen race into action at the sound of a bell.

This new book covers a history of bells that spans civilization itself, from the bianzhong of ancient China to the music of modern carillons, and even up to the International Space Station. Bells brings together seventeen stories that explore this rich campanological heritage, creating a living portrait of one of humanity’s most remarkable artifacts beautifully illustrated across more than one hundred photographs.

“The most profound and interesting book on bells I have ever read. Beautifully written and illustrated, it places the history and culture of bells in an international context rarely found in musical literature.” 
Mark Regan, former Ringing Master
Worcester Cathedral, England

Want to read more about bells in Bells? Visit to grab your own copy of the book!