Taylors and Harrisons

Bill and Margaret Hibbert bill at h...
Tue Feb 12 22:01:08 GMT 2002

As another poster has already mentioned, I am very interested in the tonal
history of bells. If anyone has access to or knows of a peal they think are
musically interesting for any reason, drop me a line, I would be very
interested in recording and analysing them.

To reply to various points made:
The only peal by Harrison of Barton upon Humber I have recordings (and
photographs) of is Castleton, Derbyshire. These bells have flat tops and
angular shoulders. The trebles are pretty normal shaped, the tenors are
rather bigger in diameter but no taller - i.e. are very short and squat.
Tonally the trebles are pretty much as expected - goodish primes, minor
seventh hums. The tenors in contrast are very exciting - tenor hum is 430
cents sharp (over four semitones!!!), prime is a tone sharp. One of the
Harrisons wrote a treatise on bell profiles which I have not yet read. I
believe the design aim was to produce bells with a much lower pitch than
their weight would suggest. This they certainly achieved . . .

I have not looked at many Taylor bells from the 1850s / 60s but agree that
there is much variation. The clock bell at Lahore Cathedral (Taylor 1862)
has a hum only about a quarter of a tone sharp and a not unreasonable prime.
On the other hand, the tenor at Dunham Massey (Taylor 1854) has a rather
flat hum (60 odd cents down) and an excruciatingly sharp prime. The trebles
at Dunham are quite reasonable. Both Taylors and Mears struggled throughout
the 19th century with scaling their designs across peals. Time and time
again one finds peals which have good tenors and poorer trebles, or more
rarely good trebles and poor tenors.

Someone mentioned bells with a bright tone. I am very interested in this
area, the variation in tonal quality even in bells tuned in fundamentally
the same way is quite striking - ranging from the dull and wooly to the
bright and harsh. The reasons are not yet fully explained and I am
researching this.

Bill H

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