[Bell Historians] Sharp Treble?

David Bryant djb122 at y...
Wed Oct 2 12:52:32 BST 2002

> Just branching off a little from discussion of rings of twelve/Dove,
> I have never heard of All Saints Basingstoke being described as a
> ring of eight plus a sharp Treble,or Broughton in Furness being
> described as a ring of ten plus a sharp Treble whilst they were an
> eleven bell tower, nor was Accrington-yet there are towers with
> thirteen bells (plus a semitone bell) which can be safely rung as a
> true thirteen(no treble rope falling anywhere silly) yet they are
> often described as a ring of twelve plus two semitones,or a ring of
> twelve plus a semitone(in fact I gather a peal has been rung on a
> true thirteen at Redcliffe),so should we not be classing such towers
> as a ring of thirteen plus semitone.
> I have never been to Redcliffe,so I dont know what the circle is, but
> there are towers where a true thirteen can be rung full circle.
> Where did the term "sharp treble come from?

sharp = one semitone above the bell used as a reference (e.g. sharp 2nd)
flat = one semitone below the bell used as a reference (e.g. flat 6th)
extra = a whole tone above the bell used as a reference (e.g. extra treble)

Using the term 'sharp' to describe a bell a whole tone above the treble is
therefore incorrect.

While rings such as Redcliffe (and York for that matter) are true rings of
13, the extra treble is there to provide a light ten, whether or not it
would be possible to ring all 13 without danger (which I think it would at
Redcliffe, Wakefield and elsewhere). 13 bell ringing is an excrescence which
might be done occasionally for a bit of amusement, but in view of its
complete lack of musical and rhythmical properties is not generally done,
even where there is an extra treble. If, as Alan says, we are to count them
as rings of 13 then the semitone is a flat 7th, not flat 6th. However,
although this is technically accuarate is doesn't reflect the puepose for
which an extra treble is installed, namely to provide a light ten. The
description used in previous editions of Dove (ring of 12 plus flat 6th and
extra treble) does reflect usage, and provided 'extra' is used rather than
'sharp' is technically accuarate.

The case of Basingstone is different in that they are intended as a ring of
nine, whereas rings of 13 are not intended as such. Therefore, they are not
an eight with an extra treble as in such a case an extra treble is of no use
apart from in the ring of nine (I don't count its use to produce a
nasty-sounding modal (Dorian) eight). Liekwise, Broughton were a ring of 11
for a short period but that was only an interim step on the way to 12.


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