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Effect of ringing speed on sound of ringing

Page history last edited by R H Johnston 6 years, 7 months ago

The Effect of Ringing speed on the sound of ringing


Bell ringing is a very public performance, and the listeners have not usually chosen to hear it.  That makes it important that ringers ring in a manner that the uninformed general public can appreciate.  In the last 100 years, as a result of changes in technology and ringers' tastes, bellringing has had a tendency to get faster and to be rung on more bells, and with the tenor turned in, all of which make listening harder for the public.  We need to reassess the way we are ringing.


As ringing gets faster, the bell sounds get closer together, and eventually start to merge.  The effect is most pronounced when a small bell follows a large bell which has a long sustained note, and the sound of the small bell gets lost in the earlier sound.  The commonest example is where the treble follows the tenor.  The following examples reveal how the speed of ringing affects the perception of the sound.  These examples of rounds were created artificially from the recordings of the individual bells at Crediton.  They all have the ells exactly placed, and with a handstroke gap of the same length.  The fastest speeds bury the gap and treble.  There is then a range of acceptable speeds, and the slowest is too slow and the ringing sounds laboured and ponderous.  This shows that there is a best (or range of best) speeds for any ring of bells for them to sound at their best.


Peal speed 2hr 40m (much too fast)


Peal speed 3hr (too fast)


Peal Speed 3hr 20m (fast and acceptable)


Peal speed 3h 40m (slow but just acceptable)


Peal speed 4h (too slow - laboured)



The above examples were rounds on 12. For many people, 12 bell ringing sounds like a sea of sound, and they can pick out individually only the largest bells.


Ordinary people hear ringing on smaller numbers much more as individual bells, provided the ringing is slow enough.


The following are of method ringing on 6 bells - a plain course of Cambridge minor on the back 6 bells at Crediton (26-2-23).  The music of the changes creates much more subtle impacts on the listener, but only if the ringing is slow enough for, the listener to savour and appreciate them, and the rounded sound of the individual bells.


Firstly at a peal speed of 2hr 48 - although the bells are clearly distinguishable, and initially it sounds ok, soon the ringing starts feeling rushed and the listener finds the ringing hard to emotionally engage with, and so becomes irritating, monotonous and unattractive.


2hr 58.5


3h 9m


3h 19.5m


3h 30m


3h 40.5m


3h 51m


4h 1.5m


and here at a stately 4hr 12m


At the slower speeds, although the ringing is actually metronomic, because of the character of the bell sounds, the listener finds himself shaping the sound so that it sounds as if it has been phrased, and the sounds seem to "bounce" off each other in a flowing manner, and the sound character of the individual bells and the contrasts between them in the different orders can be appreciated.

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