The bells once rang through a system of levers that had to be pulled by the master bell ringer, said Ben Lee, the current president of music fraternity Phi Mu Alpha.
Lee said now the system is run through a 14-key electronic keyboard.
“Every song that usually plays is prerecorded,” Lee said. “But there’s a time when if you want to play, you can just go up there, plug in the keyboard and rock out.”
At one time, the master bell ringer could only be a member of Phi Mu Alpha, but now Director of University Bands Jeffrey Fuchs said he chooses a student, usually a senior in the music department, to control the keyboard in the Bell Tower.
The current master bell ringer then teaches the new bell ringer how to operate the keyboard. Each master bell ringer holds the position until they graduate.
Fuchs said duties primarily take place during football games where the bells ring before the game, and if UNC wins, after as well.
Duties also involve events such as commencement, when the master bell ringer must turn the tower off to ensure the bells do not chime during the ceremony.
Senior Erin Vanderjeugdt, a member of the music fraternity Sigma Alpha Iota, is the current master bell ringer.