Re: [Bell Historians] Warner's,  Bowell, and harmonic tuning.

Benjamin Kipling bdk at b...
Sun Jan 30 22:39:35 GMT 2005

Having popped into work and checked the tuning figures, I'm now in a better position to reply to this. 

>(Nigel Taylor) 
>Bowell never attempted "harmonic tuning" because he had not the first 
>idea on how to design the bells, in order to achieve a correctable 

The figures for Smarden suggest otherwise. The tenor is remarkably close to being in tune with itself and the other five look to me to be within the realms of 'correctable', if not precisely then at least considerably closer than most old bells. With a little extra thickness in the shoulders of the two trebles, it would be possible to get them all spot on, as near as makes no difference. For those who are interested and can make sense of tuning figures, I've set them out below. Since different people seem to process figures differently, I've given just the raw frequencies for lowest five partials for each bell, to the nearest 0.5 Hz. The Quints of 3, 4 & 5 are a bit uncertain, but everything else should be reliable. 

1 1156.0 893.5 689.5 555.0 299.5 
2 1019.5 787.0 613.5 496.0 269.0 
3 914.0 720.5 552.0 455.5 241.0 
4 853.0 649.0 510.0 425.5 218.0 
5 756.5 577.5 453.5 376.0 196.5 
6 675.5 500.0 404.0 343.5 170.0 

The bells are relatively chunky, the tenor being 18-1-21 and quite a sharp E. The treble was tuned from the low soundbow to the mid waist and the back 5 were all tuned from the low soundbow to beyond the shoulder. The machining (not very smooth) suggests lots of cuts for short distances, rather than tuning all the way up in one go. The Hums all lie between octave and major seventh, but each of the bells has plenty of thickness to spare all of the way up the waist. From this I venture to conclude: 

1. Bowell was attempting to tune these bells harmonically, although with varying degrees of success. 

2. The profile used was sufficiently close to allow fairly accurate harmonic tuning, had Bowell had all of the equipment and knowledge to enable him to do so. 

Benjamin Kipling


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