Re (3): [Bell Historians] Bootle (Everton) and Fenham

Richard Offen richard at s...
Thu Sep 30 12:41:21 BST 2004

> The point I was rather elliptically driving at is, in plain terms, 
what the hell
> does it mean when WBF repeatedly refer to it. In the absence of an 
answer from
> Nigel, we can only deduce from his last posting that he refers to 
A452, which
> represents the dizzy heights to which it rose during the last half 
of the 19th
> century.

[Old Concert Pitch has A set at 454 Hz, not 452, and was the standard 
adopted by many leading orchestras during the late 19th century. 
When an old ring falls between the notes of the International Concert 
Pitch setting (agreed at an International Congress in 1939) it has 
always been Whitechapel's policy to tune to another recognised 
standard pitch rather than tune to the flattest bell (avoiding the 
need to remove too much metal from thin bells in order to get them to 
International Pitch). It may seem odd to you Mr Ivin, but it 
obviously seemed sensible to those who made that decision (probably 
Bill Hughes) many years ago.]

> The effect is that a bell of a note qualified by 'O C P' is about 
half a
> semitone higher than the same note in modern (A440) parlance. (OK - 
46.58 cents
> higher, to save you another posting!)
> Maybe one day we shall elicit a response, but the fact seems to be 
that beyond
> Whitechapel it has no precise and universally recognised meaning.
> Another peculiar illogicality which is emerging is the dreaded 
Kirnberger III
> scale. The whole point of these historic temperaments was that each 
key was
> playable (as opposed to meantone) _but_ each key signature 
differred from the
> rest in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Now we hear that such and 
such a ring of
> bells is tuned in Kirnberger III, which _ought_ to mean that 
different intervals
> ought to be found between the bells according to the pitch - i.e. 
Swineshead (RW p 800)
> keynote F-49c might be expected to use the K III F or E scale 
intervals, and
> Milton, Berks keynote B, the B scale intervals, but in practice 
both use the
> C scale intervals. I ask you! (It is also arguable that if one must 
pick a single
> scale for the preferred one, then the G intervals are a rather 
better choice.)

[On what basis do you make this assertion? Have you pitched these 

Readers may be interested to look at Nigel Taylor's web site on 
tuning for further information: 

One of the accusations I've regularly heard about 'modern' rings of 
bells is that they all sound the same. Using another temperament, 
which gives each key a 'different colour' addresses this criticism 
and is intended to bring some character to modern rings. A good 
idea if you ask me!]

Richard (equally ill tempered!)

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