[Bell Historians] Re: Telegraph letter

Richard Smith richard at WCqtTonqT373g_nnpbjZ1BBZOi6wNr4XzCRiKqZqAiefFwCTbZ5yUt7FFTMWL5OWbdMgfeTIEvxqqIks0Nt6Kw.yahoo.invalid
Thu Oct 15 11:29:37 BST 2009

David Bryant asked:

> To put it more clearly, what are the advantages of the 
> tuning system which you are proposing, and what are its 
> advantages over and above any other tuning system?

... to which Charles Lucy responded:

> Rather than re-writing the text from an existing site, I 
> would like to suggest that you got to a place where the 
> whole system derived from John Harrison's writings is 
> explained in detail, and comparisons to other systems are 
> shown.

So far as I can see, the purported advantage of your / John 
Harrison's tuning system is that you can tune an instrument 
such that music played in different keys sound equally good. 
You mention, for example, the problem of tuning a 
traditional guitar such that you are happy with both the E 
major and G major chords.

Now how is that relevant to bell ringing?  We have a brand 
new Taylor twelve in Cambridge, one that I'm overwhelmingly 
pleased with.  We use it to ring rounds in D major, Stedman 
Cinques in D major, Cambridge Maximus in D major, Bristol 
Maximus is D major.  We have even attempted to ring Orion 
transposed into D major; unfortunately some of the chords in 
this piece sound most unpleasant.  I can only assume this 
must be due to some subtle problem with Taylor's tuning of 
the bells, as it often sounds melodious when rung by others 
on the C major Whitechapel twelve at Bow.  I shall be 
raising this serious issue with Taylors in the near future.

Never once have we decided to ring Fabian Stedman's 
masterpiece, but in a deep, sonorous Bb major for a change: 
we simply don't care what our bells would sound like rung in 
a far-removed key.  We ring them in D major, sometimes we 
ring the front eight in G major, and if we're in a silly 
mood, we might try the descending melodic minor ten in E. 
All closely related keys.  Bells are not the same as 



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