Sunday, February 13, 2011

Grandfather Clocks: The Temperamental Timepiece.

Grandfather clocks puzzle me. The little "it's another quarter hour!" chimes are cute and perky. Yet the hour gong is spooky, angry, and morbid.
This video* is a good example:

If chimes could be transcribed into English, they'd go something like this:
"Tra la la la, tra la la la...."

"Dah de dum da, tra la la la...."
then comes the hour count....
Why is this?  What's with the personality change?
*Okay, this clock is a beauty, and I'm glad it's being taken care of .  I picked this video because it was a good example of the "mood change"  between the chimes and hour striking.


stray said...

I was terrified when, as a little kid, I stayed at a friend's house overnight and heard the grandfather clock all night.

Namowal said...

Hi stray,
Those clocks scared me out when I was little too. Between their stern strikes and their quasi anthropomorphic looks, I was sure they were up to no good.

Pile Girl said...

We always had a cluckoo clock. I think my dad bought it in Germany before the dawn of time (before we kids were born) It cluckoos every fifteen minutes, day and night. That takes some getting used to.

When I moved back into their home after my dad had a stroke, I had to get used to the cluckoo clock all over again.

My parents would go to bed very early. I would watch TV in the living room with the sound turned way down.

Once, when I was watching a mystery show, they were just about to reveal the name of the murderer. I leaned close to the TV and held my breath...

After that, I watched TV with the captions turned on.

Uniblogger said...

Grandfather clocks made sense in the days before electricity. You could know what time it was without having to light a candle to see a windup watch or clock.

Namowal said...

Funny story, Pile Girl!
As much as I like birds and automatons, I think a cuckoo clock would drive me up the wall.
Maybe that's why antique models are rare and expensive- the rest have succumbed to damage caused by things thrown at them.

Namowal said...

Good point, Uniblogger.
That being said, the inner workings of a chiming clock are intricate and complex. It's almost embarrassing that they appeared generations before humans invented light bulbs.

GhostBuild said...

I just took a look at how much these cost. WOW.

Your walking clock looks like it came right out of a Disney movie. Nice illustration!

Namowal said...

Yes, they can be pretty pricey. Especially the antiques, but even new ones cost as much as a major appliance.
Thanks for saying my clocks look like Disney characters. They weren't the easiest things to draw (but by the fourth one I sorta got the hang of it.)

Linda said...

Well, it is a strange phenomenon.
But I LOVE the way you drew the dancing clocks.

Namowal said...

Thanks, Linda.
I'm trying to decide what to name the character. Clocky? Casey?

p.s. He says his hour strike is like that because low pitched sounds are easier to hear at a distance, but I haven't gotten an expert to verify this.

Pile Girl said...

Clocky. Definitely.

walterworld said...

We used to have one; my mom had the chimes (and gong) 'disabled' at some point, but I do remember the occasional sleepless night being serenaded with the countdown of the quarter, half and three-quarter hour follwed by the top of the hour and that infernal Gonging.

Thanks for the therapy :)

Namowal said...

Pile Girl,
I like "Clocky" the best too.
"Casey" was a pun, as clock aficionados refer to grandfather clocks as "longcase clocks"

I suppose a quarter chiming clock could make insomnia really annoying. It's like someone saying "Ha ha! Another 15 minutes and you're still awake!"
I believe most of those clocks have separate winding mechanisms- one for the clock, one for the quarter chimes, and a third for the hour gong. If you stop winding the later two, the clock will clam up.