Cimbelstern German
Cymbalstern German
Cymbelstern German
Zimbelstern German
Zymbelstern German
Akkordglocken German
Clochettes French
Cymbel German
Cymbelglöcklein German
Étoile Sonore French
Stern German
Timpani Italian
Vox Stellarum Latin
Zimbelglocklein German

A “toy” stop consisting of a metal or wooden star or wheel on which several small bells are mounted. When the stop is engaged, the star rotates, producing a continuous tinkling sound. The star was often visible on the exterior of the organ case; when not visible, it may or may not have a star shape. It was common in northern Europe, Germany in particular, throughout the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. Williams suggests it was introduced 1585-8 at Münster Cathedral by Lampeler van Mill, though Osiris contains at least one older example (see below). After 1700 the bells were sometimes tuned to particular notes. The name Zymbelstern means “cymbal star”, Akkordglocken means “chord bells”, and Étoile Sonore means “ringing star”.

The name Clochette[s] is mentioned only by Wedgwood, who carelessly lists it as a synonym for Carillon, Glockenspiel and Gongs, without any further discussion of the name. We find ten examples of it in Osiris, four of which are mixtures (see Jeu de Clochette); the other six appear to be percussion stops, but it is not known whether they are of the Zimbelstern type. According to Adlung, the names Cymbel and Timpani have been used for this stop, but Cymbel usually indicates a mixture, and Timpani is usually a percussion.


Variations on the German name Zymbelstern are very common; Osiris contains over 200 examples, and the oldest known example is given below. No examples are known of the names Étoile Sonore and Vox Stellarum, which are mentioned only by Wedgwood, or of Akkordglocken, mentioned only by Williams, or of Stern, mentioned only by Adlung. No examples of the names Cymbel or Timpani are known to indicate stops of this type. (Contributions welcome.)

Cymbelstern (two); Katherinenkirche, Hamburg, Germany; Stellwagen 1543.

Zimbelglocklein; Christ the King Evangelical Lutheran Church, Houston, Texas, USA; Noack 1995. This is the only known example of this name by any spelling variant.

Clochettes; First United Methodist Church, Little Rock, Arkansas, USA; Casavant 1984.

Clochettes; Recital Hall, Birmingham-Southern College, Birmingham, Alabama, USA; Casavant 1987.

Clochettes; First Presbyterian Church, Portland, Oregon, USA; Jaeckel 2000.

Sound Clips

See the Sound Files appendix for general information.

Zimbelsterns (two) Culver Academies, Indiana, USA Möller 1951 1 & 2 1 then 2 then both


Adlung[1]: §133 Cymbel. Audsley[1]: Cymbelstern. Audsley[2]: I.XIII Cymbelstern. Grove[1]: Zimbelstern. Maclean[1]: Percussions. Sumner[1]: Cymbelstern. Wedgwood[1]: Cymbalstern. Williams[1]: Glossary Zimbelstern.
Copyright © 2001 Edward L. Stauff, all rights reserved.
Cymbelstern.html - Last updated 12 February 2009.
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