Wind Chime Puts Arkansas Town in Guiness Records

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The small town of Eureka Springs, Ark., has long been a haven for artists. Now one of those artists has given the town a new claim to fame: It has the largest wind chime as certified by the Guinness Book of Records. Reporter Jacqueline Froelich of member station KUAF reports.


The small town of Eureka Springs, Arkansas, has a history as a haven for artists. And now one of those artists has given the place a new claim to fame - the largest wind chime as certified by the Guinness Book of World Records.

Reporter Jacqueline Froelich of member station KUAF takes us to Eureka Springs to meet the man behind the big wind chime.

JACQUELINE FROELICH: When you drive along steep, twisting Highway 23 South near Eureka Springs, a huge metal wind chime suddenly looms out of the forest.

(Soundbite of wind chime)

FROELICH: The chime swings high up in a hundred-year-old oak tree. With enough breeze a wind catcher clangs a knocker against the silver-colored bells, which can be heard for miles. Creator Nathan Ranaga Farbiarz refers to it as his weapon of mass destruction.

(Soundbite of wind chime)

Mr. NATHAN RANAGA FARBIARZ (Artist): The sound of musical wind chime is the sound of nature creating a symphony, a feeling of peace and connection to the universe. Who wouldn't like a sound like that?

FROELICH: For 30 years, Farbiarz has made and sold wind chimes. But four years ago - after seeing what was then the world's largest chime - he decided to build this 36-foot-long one. And like his small chimes, the big one is a musically tuned. Most aren't.

(Soundbite of bell)

Mr. FARBIARZ: The strike tone of the longest tube is just like a European cathedral bell. The harmonic resonance that follow it is identical to the sound of a Tibetan singing ball. The final hum tone is like the sound of a jet engine, vibrating through your seat as you await take off. You can feel it.

(Soundbite of bells)

FROELICH: The chime hangs just outside his gallery, Celestial Winds Harmonic Bizarre.

(Soundbite of bell)

FROELICH: This is where Farbiarz, a former juggler and street performer, makes his time and entertains the visitors.

(Soundbite of wind chime)

FROELICH: Scavenging sound from found objects is an art Farbiarz learned from his father, a Polish inventor and electrical engineer. Farbiarz dedicated the world's largest chime to the memory of his dad, a Jewish Holocaust survivor. He's mom, too, managed to escape the Nazis. The couple met in a displaced person's camp in Darmstadt, Germany. That's where Ranaga was born. Today, Helene is 90 years old and lives in the (unintelligible) with her son. She says the giant chime is thrilling.

Ms. HELENE FARBIARZ (Nathan Ranaga Farbiarz's Mother): To me, it sounds like they are signing. And they are. In a way, they are, really.

(Soundbite of laughter)

(Soundbite of wind chime)

FROELICH: Now that he has the world's record, Ranaga Farbiarz is already onto something else - creating wind chimes that play distinct melodies.

For NPR News, I'm Jacqueline Froelich in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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