Leicester St Nicholas

Bill Hibbert bill at h...
Mon Jun 28 15:23:37 BST 2004

Many thanks to David Cawley for posting G&J's tuning figures for this 
bell. I think they tell us a lot about how G&J were tuning at the 

Richard Offen has already explained the terms 'with itself' and 'with 
peal' for the figures of this bell, I will only add that the planned 
nominal of 652 Hz is exactly an E related to A=435Hz; G&J were 
obviously using this older pitch standard, still used by some 
continental founders today.

To illuminate what I say below, I have uploaded a 
spreadsheet 'Leicester St. Nicholas.xls' to the files area with all 
the key figures.

The bell as cast is about a tone sharp of the intended pitch. It has 
a slightly sharp prime and a very sharp hum, both of which came into 
line during the tuning. The tierce was planned, and tuned, to be 
just, not equal.

The figures for the low five partials include a fractional part (e.g. 
163+1/9). My guess, unless anyone knows better, is that these are 
beat rates to a standard fork (in the example, one beat in nine 

The higher partials for which a 'with peal' figure is given are very 
interesting: they are the 'strike' partials giving rise to the strike 
note. I guess G&J had latched on to their significance, or did they 
just pick the partials at simple intervals above the nominal? Their 
planned figures for these partials are optimistic. These partials go 
up relative to the nominal when metal is removed during tuning, 
whereas their plan has the octave nominal going down to the exact 

To note frequencies for all these partials using forks must have been 
a lengthy task, and would have required good knowledge of the 
location of the nodes for each vibration.

I have tried to work out the abbreviations for the higher partial 
names. Some are a pure guess on my part.

C.P. is probably crown partial - so called because the partial is 
easiest to detect in the crown.

A, B and C are the three main partials lying between nominal and 
superquint, known sometimes as the tenth, first eleventh and second 
eleventh. Carillon experts tell me that, in a true-harmonic bell 
otherwise tuned spot on, the position of these three partials has a 
big effect on the sound of the bell.

OU is the superquint. Could this be a transcription error for OV, 
meaning octave fifth?

ON is the octave nominal. It looks as if the tuner found four 
different candidate partials for this in the untuned bell.

HF is probably the high or higher fifth.

4N is the double octave nominal, i.e. roughly four times the nominal 

The other partials (V.I, I.X, OPV and ?+VI) I can't help with.

Bill H

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