McGraw Tower in fall


The Cornell Chimemasters have been ringing since Cornell opened its doors in 1868. Since then, the bells have been associated with Cornell victories, defeats, celebrations, and memorials. The bells' home in McGraw Tower has become a visual symbol of the university, and their activity falls within Campus Activities. The chimes have become university icons and receive frequent requests for special songs or lighting; please refer to our policies.

McGraw Tower Lighting

The tower is lit for certain long-standing traditions, including Cornell Homecoming, Halloween, Veteran's Day, Valentine's Day, and Dragon Day. The tower is not illuminated for special causes, including awareness days, vigils, or memorials.

The chimesmasters, by request, can honor events, traditions, or awareness days by playing a song; see "Other Musical Requests."

Other Musical Requests

The Cornell Chimesmasters have a wide array of music in their library. They are open to individual visitor requests and music requests honoring events, traditions, or awareness days, provided the music is in the chimes library, and the chimesmaster is comfortable performing the piece. The best way to make an individual music request is to visit a concert in person. For a special event, email chimes@cornell.edu at least one week before the event. A student organization may make up to one request per academic year, or a fee will be incurred (see specialty concerts).

Music Library

We are not permitted to share the music in our chimes music library.

National Anthems

National anthems are only played at the discretion of the chimesmasters. The Office of the President may make external requests for national anthems or when a visiting dignitary is coming to campus.
"The Star-Spangled Banner" may be played at any time.


Tolling is ringing a single bell with slow, measured strokes, creating a solemn sound. Due to the difficult and emotional nature of tolling, it is only done for university priorities at the request of the Office of the President.