[Bell Historians] non standard tuning

Drew Douglas drew_douglasuk at y...
Tue Feb 17 12:11:03 GMT 2004

I think this is an excellent suggestion. However "Old
Style" could equally apply to the style of internal
tuning of a bell i.e. non harmonic/Simpson.

Somewhat unhelpfully, I can't think of a suitable
alternative term though!


--- khsbelring at a... wrote: > I apologise for any
glaring inaccuracies as it is 45
> years since I did music 
> theory however for what it is worth here is my two
> pennyworth. 
> The first tuning fork by John Shore in 1711
> had A as 423.5 cycles per 
> sec. Since then various "tuners" have used A pitched
> anywhere between 400-455. 
> It was not until 1939 that A 440 was adopted as an
> international standard. 
> Even now you can get any instrument tuned to any
> particular style or wavelength 
> that one might require.
> I think that describing a ring of bells that
> might offend your ear as 
> MINOR would in most cases be entirely inaccurate.
> I, as a matter of interest, organised the
> first peal on the minor 
> DORIAN front eight of the nine at Basingstoke.
> It is undoubtedly likely that most old rings
> of bells are lucky to be 
> anywhwere near in tune. The old founders did not
> have the technology to 
> acomplish what our modern day ones do. If you look
> on some web sites and see the 
> complexity of how modern bells are tuned I think
> that by the seat of their pants 
> old founders from years past did a wonderful job.
> We then come to the point that it is likely
> that some bells were never 
> tuned to fit in with existing ones just merely
> placed there with the others 
> at approximately the right note. Nowadays
> instruments are generally tuned at 
> equal temprament over the entire range of twelve
> notes from the octave. If you 
> go to a three bell tower with old bells it is likely
> that first there was one , 
> then two with the second bell at any note higher or
> lower. Then there were 
> three and basically any note higher or lower or in
> the middle of the existing 
> two would do. Now you come forward a few hundred
> years and try to augment your 
> three to six and still make them sound tuneful and
> in what we might call an 
> acceptable attempt at a certain key pitch.
> Given the words major and minor keys we then
> get round to Dorian, 
> Phygrian, Ionian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian and
> Locrian. These are words that 
> medieval founders would never have heard of let
> alone be able to tune to.
> If there is a ring of 6 it could be tuned to
> the front, middle or back 
> of any of the keys. If you have 3, 4 or 5 that gives
> countless more 
> variations.
> Could we instead adopt a term, such as OLD
> STYLE , to show that the 
> bells are not tuned to any particular key.
> Howard E. J. Smith - Newcastle Upon Tyne

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