Leicester St Nicholas

Richard Offen richard.offen at o...
Tue Jun 29 04:34:47 BST 2004

--- In bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com, "Bill Hibbert" <bill at h...> 
> Many thanks to David Cawley for posting G&J's tuning figures for 
> bell. I think they tell us a lot about how G&J were tuning at the 
> time.
> Richard Offen has already explained the terms 'with itself' 
and 'with 
> peal' for the figures of this bell, I will only add that the 
> 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 
> a slightly sharp prime and a very sharp hum, both of which came 
> 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 
> 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 
> seconds).
> The higher partials for which a 'with peal' figure is given are 
> interesting: they are the 'strike' partials giving rise to the 
> 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 
> up relative to the nominal when metal is removed during tuning, 
> whereas their plan has the octave nominal going down to the exact 
> octave.
> To note frequencies for all these partials using forks must have 
> 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 
> frequency.
> The other partials (V.I, I.X, OPV and ?+VI) I can't help with.
> Bill H

Bill is absolutely right about the fractions representing beats with 
the forks. I well remember Wally telling me how the final check was 
done with tuning forks and a stop watch and how long it used to 
take. Given what we now know from Andrew Higson about the accuracy 
of G & J's forks, it was all a bit of a futile gesture!

Again, what Wally told me, Gillett's knew quite a bit about the 
relationship of the upper partials to the 'strike' and, as I've said 
before, also realised that these partials made a big difference to 
the quality of larger carillon bells, where they are much more 

CP does stand for 'crown partial', which was also one that could 
cause problems in carillon bells. With the set of three 
partials 'A, B and C' above the nominal, Gillett's aimed to get all 
three in line with each other as a major third to the nominal.

I can't remember all of the notation that was used for each partial, 
but, what Bill surmises is correct. The IX is definitely the ninth 
that appears in (I think) the fourth octave and can be very annoying 
in large carillon bells.

How I wish I'd taken notes when talking to Wally - Nigel Taylor can 
probably remember more as he talked to him on a regular basis far 
more recently than I.

I hope this helps to shed more light on this fascinating subject.


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