Bell sounds

John Baldwin Dovemaster at
Tue Apr 15 13:06:54 BST 2008

--- In bellhistorians at, "Bickerton, Roderic (SELEX 
GALILEO, UK)" <roderic.bickerton at ...> wrote:
> To speak heresy, when are we to wake up to the computer age and 
> sound bytes to bell detail records?
Let me try answer that from my own, that is the pNBR within Dove, 
perspective and at one particular instant in time.

There is, of course, no reason why such cannot be done.  True it 
would take some time to build up the data but, as we have shown, 
there is a tremendous amount of goodwill and a willingness to share 
this sort of information.  And it wouldn't be too difficult to devise 
a mechanism for collecting it.

But the real question surely is "where is it best to house any given 
piece of information?"

What I have tried to do with on-line Dove is to make easily and 
quickly available the relevant data for ringers wishing to ring at 
towers.  I have attempted to do this, via the internet, in the same 
way that Ron Dove did a generation earlier via a printed book. Thus 
we have constrained a Dove search - at present - to scanning a file 
whose size is such that good response can be provided. And such is 
achieved: results are delieverd to the screen quickly. 

As it is, the bell details file for Dove is now over 3Mbytes in 
size.  One should be able readily to appreciate just how dramatically 
file sizes would build up, as also would ALL the housekeeping 
activities associated with maintaining an up-to-date corpus of data, 
if we were to add pictures (which I have striven NOT to do from these 
performance considerations) or sound bites (which again are not 
exactly succinct in their byte requirements).

It is my view that - at the present time - a tower's own website is 
the right place for looking at a picture of the tower, and also for 
hearing a recording of the bells.  After all, such considerations are 
for most ringers fairly unlikely to influence a decision as to 
whether to visit or not, nor are they necessary for finding the 

As we have stated elsewhere, our primary objective is to help 
ringers find towers (hence the grid references and mapping), to know 
whether they're likely to be able to ring there (hence identification 
of practice nights, but we have stopped short of Sunday Service 
times, the reason being elaborated in our FAQs), and to know what to 
expect when they get there (hence some of the details of the bells, 
including indication of when they were last overhauled). 

One can for ever go on 'gilding the lily' but, as with all 
things, "you don't get owt for nowt" and we think that the current 
state of technology is such that a single central repository is not 
appropriate for absolutely every aspect about a ring of bells.

But, things invariably change, and it may well all be different in a 
few years' time.  

Also, please realise that compiling and maintaining such collections 
of data involve a considerable number of hours patient and careful 
work. Few people are prepared to make available their own time for 
the 'general good' and even fewer willing to provide their technical 
know-how in developing the applications to make it easily 
available to all.  As with most things, it's easy to suggest more 
things for others to do but very much harder to knuckle down and do 
it, day in day out, year in year out, as well as developing the 
mechanisms by which it can be accomplished. 


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