Pitch Standards

nigelsdtaylor nigeltaylor at k...
Thu Sep 30 21:29:16 BST 2004

Old concert pitch is that used in London during the mid to late 19th 
century. This is based upon A=454 or C=540. In cents terms, A is Bb-
46 cents. This pitch standard was (and to some extent still is) 
commonly used by Whitechapel. It is still often used for old rings, 
but up until the 1960's, new rings were tuned to A=439, A=454 and 
A=435. G & J and Taylor's used A=435 generally.
C=256 or A=431 was used in Paris. A century earlier, "A" tended to 
be around 415 to 428.
Not all new Whitechapel rings are tuned to Kirnberger III, and based 
upon the "C" scale. If you tune a new ring in say Eb major using K 
III, the intonation is similar to 12-tone equal temperament, so the 
scale is rather neutral. If you tune a ring to Ab, using the Ab 
scale, the scale is rather bright, with some rather stretched 
intervals, although the octaves at least are in tune.
Some new rings are tuned in different scales: Sewanee for example 
are tuned to G in the G scale of a modified mean-tone temperament. 
Milton bells were cast to G & J profiles. These have lower soundbows 
than Whitechapel bells. The thicker bells therefore have fairly 
horizontal lip to soundbow profiles. We always put a skim across the 
lip to ensure that it is level. With a flat lip, inevitably this 
produces a wide band. How sharp the bell is as cast tends to 
determine how much of this is cut away.
Nigel Taylor

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