Skip to content

Westminster Quarters

     The clock tower song “Westminster Quarters” was composed by William Crotch in 1793.


     The last C that strikes the hour sounds more like a C minor, because of the audible Eb overtone. This type of modulation, from a Major key to the same key in Minor, is known as a Reverse Picardy.


     The “Westminster Quarters” is one of the most influential pieces of music in the urban soundscape. The Major Third in the third measure (from the E to the C) served as the inspiration for the Door Bell, Car Horn, and the Convenience Store. All are Major Thirds, a very happy interval indeed.
     If you live anywhere near a big clock, as I do, you probably hear this song at least 24 times a day, at every half, for 12 hours straight. Good thing “Westminster Quarters” rocks so much ass. When I hear it, I imagine the gods kicking in on weather drums. Most people are probably habituated to the “Quarters”, or probably don’t consider it much of a song.
     Still, it’s arguably the most played song on Earth, and I’ll hear it so much much more than my favorites, like Air Supply’s Lost in Love, or Rivers Cuomo’s Lover in the Snow. Certainly more than America’s That’s All I’ve Got to Tell You with vocals by Jeff Bridges.
     But probably not more than My Mother by the Chipettes.