The Bilo, or Talanton


Definition.... bilo talanton semantron semandron

"O Adam, o Adam, o Adam o protoplastis, o Adam..." or "To talanton, to talanton..."

In the photos is a bilo of 2000 kg. It sounds like a thirty ton bell. The earth trembles when this bilo resounds!

Selection of Bila

Here's a standard selection of bilos. They can make bilos of any weight. They are very beautiful and elegant. Each has interesting ornamentation, splendid iconography, and special inscriptions— truly a "resounding icon"!

      Weight (kg) Approx. US$*
No. Tone Oct Bilo Bell Bilo Bell
1 C 1 68.2 1638 $4,000 $65,500
2 E 1 34.7 820 $2,000 $40,000
3 G 1 22.3 410 $1,200 $22,500
4 C 2 8.5 180 $500 $10,000
5 E 2 6.8 106 $400 $6,000
6 G 2 5.7 69 $350 $4,000
7 C 3 2.7 35 $150 $2,000

*Very rough, with bells maybe a little on the high side.

In price, of course, the bilo has the advantage. The tone of a 68.2 kg bilo is rather the same as that of a 1638 kg bell, but the price is many times less.

Can You Substitute a Bilo for a Real Bell?

If this is really true, why don't people use bila instead of bells? Well, of course bila can't really substitute for bells, and a zvon played on a set of bila actually sounds rather different than one played on a zvonnitsa. So even a few smaller bells sound better and more traditional for church purposes, than a larger number of bila. You could say that bila sound perhaps more "Chinese" than Russian— or rather, perhaps like a big xylophone, glockenspiel, or set of vibes.

Nonetheless, modern bila are very impressive and do have a definite musical value, and are used by churches which are not ready for bells. They could be recommended for musical enjoyment (a brief example is shown at the beginning of our video). And sometimes bila could substitute for the bell zvons that are sometimes required in classical symphonies.