Chiming / ringing profiles

oakcroft13 bill at h...
Fri Sep 6 22:09:01 BST 2002

Me (on flat primes in trebles):
> had the bell-founders not followed this path in
> their designs, then the work . . . leading
> back to true harmonic tuning would not have been
> necessary
> in the Victorian era not many founders managed
> true harmonics

I didn't explain myself very well. What I meant to say was that:
* old-style founders normally produced trebles with much flatter 
primes (up to two semitones down) than tenors (often only 1/4 to 1/2 
semitone flat)
* this is generally true for both light and heavy peals (i.e. the 
issue was not the design of a bell of a particular weight, but the 
ability to scale across the peal).

The tenors show they could produce bells with moderate primes. Also, 
they knew enough to avoid sharp primes and the destructive effect 
that has on tone. Carl S-Z makes the excellent point that exact 
scaling of the dimensions should give equivalance of tuning. The 
question I posed was: why did the UK founders not scale across the 
peal in this way? Was it lack of understanding of geometry, or was it 
a desire to have trebles proportionately heavier than the tenors 
either for the purposes of good striking or to give more meat to the 
tone of the bell?

Because it is practically impossible to raise the prime relative to 
the fundamental through tuning, a retuned historical bell will still 
be worth investigating unless it has moved positions in the ring.

An additional interesting issue raised by Carl is that the lighter 
chiming profiles did not always meet with favour from carilloneurs, 
even though supposedly they were cheaper - which suggests meatiness 
of tone may have been quite significant.

According to Isacoff's 'Temperament' which I am still reading with a 
great deal of glee, it was Noble and Pigot who in 1673 in Oxford 
discovered that musical strings had multiple overtones or partials. 
At what date this discovery was made for bells I do not know, though 
surely the Hemonys and Jacob van Eyck knew it in the 1650s.

So much more to learn and understand!

Bill H

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