[Bell Historians] Proto-NBR and musical scales

edward martin edward.w.martin at q3ilgpYq7DfiHtLspd_4W0x8KXdtfYJd-F_VBzoDO7yP7oy0fwkJ7RbK2X-DcoX9wxfkS4e8fzpnoN_lPf_U.yahoo.invalid
Sat Dec 2 14:34:28 GMT 2006

On 12/1/06, Carl S Zimmerman <csz_stl at pGFe9y-kO_z81SLmfWVjqc0Nk1vDB5bw2RjL6Fua1W0dKxubLsdgnc-PmZA1U5Yjmdq7PlMSQgs.yahoo.invalid> wrote:

Back to key signatures - of what use are they to ringers? Only to
help explain to non-ringing musicians a very small bit of what
ringing is all about - otherwise, no use at all. Contrary to
Michael's assertion, bells hung for change ringing are NOT musical
instruments in the ordinary sense of the term. They cannot be used
to play music written for other instruments, and the music of change
ringing is of almost no interest to musicians who play other
instruments and are not ringers. Can you imagine playing 5040
changes on 8 keys of a piano, for example? Indeed, some ringers take
pride in the fact that the music which they make is incomprehensible
to non-ringing players of ordinary musical instruments. So the key
signature that happens to fit the pitches of a particular ring of
bells is irrelevant to how they are actually rung.

P.S. If you think that the choice of sharp or flat for note names is
confusing, just try to understand the viewpoint of the non-ringer to
whom bell numbers are being "explained". The relationship of the
number of a bell to its position in the major scale (which itself is
based entirely on the tenor bell) changes not only with how many
bells accompany the tenor in the tower but also with how many bells
are being rung at the moment! Whuf! Oh, and the meanings of "up"
and "down" the scale for a musician are opposite to what they are for
a ringer. Now that's confusing, innit?

Of course Carl wrote much more, but the above is selected.

Regarding his P.S. comments:

I wouldn't have thought that how many bells are being rung at the moment
compared with how many bells are in the tower is much different from a piece
of music written for a quartet not including lines for all the other musical
instruments that constitute an orchestra. Also, the terms 'up' and 'down'
are identical when speaking of the sound produced whether on say a piano or
on a ring of bells. What might be confusing to a non-ringer is that in bell
ringing a bell is said to go 'up' because in order to do so, the ringer
doesn't affect the sound of his bell but actually holds it 'up' on or nearer
the point of balance in order to move it 'up' through the sequence of sounds
It is a question not of moving up & down the scale of sounds but of moving
up & down the sequence of positions

The following (taken directly from the mss of a book of mine which will
probably never be published) might be of interest:

"Another instance of mistaken identity is found in a book on the general
history of music, written by Dr. Charles Burney, and published in 1789. My
notes on this are faded, therefore although I quote, it must be read with
caution. I have not come across this book since to allow me to check
punctuation but, in his book, Burney refers to the Tintinnalogia when
speaking of a piece of light music entitled 'A 5 bell Consorte'. (This
music, composed by John Jenkins, is actually reproduced on pages 37-43 of
Morris's 'History & Art of Change Ringing.' Ernest notes that there is
something of the music of a course of Grandsire Doubles put to use.) Burney
wrote that what had originally given rise to this Consorte :-

seems to have been a book called Tintinnalogia, or The Art of Ringing,
published in 1668; a work not beneath the notice of musicians who wish to
explore all the regions of natural melody, as in this little book, they will
see every possible change in the arrangement of diatonic sounds from 2 to12,
which, being reduced to musical notes, would point out innumerable passages
that in spite of all that has hitherto been written, would be new in melody
and composition. The reader will be able to form some judgement of the
wonderful variety which the changes on bells afford to melody by the annexed
calculations, where it appears that even in the plain and simple
arrangements of natural sounds according to the species of the octave,
without the intersection of flats and sharps, eight notes will produce
40,320 different passages, and on twelve, 479001600.

Mersennus, in his 'Harmonie Universelle', published 1636, has enumerated
these changes and reduced to musical notation, those of the hexachord, as an
illustration of the amazing variety, which may be given to the arrangement
of only six sounds in melody. It must not, however, be imagined that all the
changes in the Table will be equal agreeable, or even practicable if
introduced in an aire. Yet in an almost infinite number offered to a
musician's choice, many would doubtless frequently occur which would not
only be pleasing but new.

Out of the great number of peals, which are given on 5, 6, and 8 bells in
Tintinnalogia, it is extraordinary that melody has not been consulted in the
choice of changes. There seems a mechanical order and succession in them,
without the least idea of selecting such as are most melodious and
agreeable. Even the 'clams', or the collision of two bells together in
counterpart, has been settled by ringers without the least knowledge of

Dr. Burney would seem to be referring not to Tintinnalogia but to
Campanalogia because Tintinnalogia only goes as far as two versions of Bob
Minor on six bells and gives no instructions on how to ring anything on 8
bells. The term 'clams' is found not in Tintinnalogia but in Campanalogia
which book introduces many more methods to be rung on up to eight bells."


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