Kidderminster tenor (was major third bells)

Bill Hibbert bill at
Mon Oct 16 20:39:03 BST 2006

Thanks to Alan Buswell for the figures from the G&J tuning of 1935, 
which agree with mine based on recordings taken shortly before the 
old bells were removed in 2003:

Partial, G&J1935, WAH2003
Hum, 173, 173.6 (-2101 cents)
Prime, 302, 301.8 (-1143 cents)
Tierce, 364, 363.4 (-822 cents)
Quint, 527, 525.9 (-182 cents)
Nominal, 585, 584.1

Ben Kipling:
> bells with very sharp Hums also tend to have sharp Tierces. When I 
analysed it, I seem to remember that the Hum of the old 
Kidderminster Tenor was in the vicinity of a flat sixth.
> a flatter Quint means the high waist will be thinner and the low 
waist will be thicker, giving a sharper Tierce.

I have recently been doing some work with Robert Perrin based on 
some papers he wrote in the 80's (e.g. RIR Modes of the Modern 
English Church Bell, Journal of Sound and Vibration (1987) 119(2), 
243-247 for those who care to look it up). He proposed based on some 
work of Chladni that a certain set of partials - those he calls RIR, 
which Lehr in his notation calls the class I partials - will all 
change together as a set. These partials are the hum, the tierce, 
the nominal, the superquint, the octave nominal and the higher 
partials I call the strike partials. Robert's theory would suggest, 
just as does Ben, that a sharp hum would lead to a sharp tierce. 
Unfortunately the theory also would imply that flat upper partials 
would also give rise to sharp hum and tierce, which is not usually 
true (for example, the old G&J trebles at Kidderminster had true-
harmonic lower partials but very flat upper partials). More work 
remains to be done, and Robert would like to think that bells can be 
divided into classes, for each of which his theory is separately 

The Chladni / Perrin theory does not apply to primes and quints. As 
will be seen above, the old Kidderminster tenor had a radically 
sharp quint.

My recording of the old tenor is of it being rung up alone. I know 
the joke about 'a bad eight spoilt', but the tenor would have 
sounded tremendous swing-chimed in some continental tower.

Bill H


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