The Sound of Bells

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Disley, Cheshire, St Mary the Virgin, 6, 7-1-8 in A

Recorded: WAH 13/8/01
Analysed: WAH 29/8/01

A pleasant six, all Mears 1837, tuned by Whitechapel in 1969. Here they are being rung for a wedding.

Bell Founder Tuning
1 - 6 Mears 1837 Whitechapel 1969

Tuning of main partials

Tenor nominal: 878Hz.

Bell Hum Prime Tierce Quint Nom'l S'quint O'nom.
1 -2297 -1511 -913 -480 917 693 1235
2 -2288 -1317 -881 -464 718 685 1222
3 -2265 -1510 -921 -464 513 696 1244
4 -2287 -1366 -901 -525 402 704 1259
5 -2281 -1298 -886 -417 217 691 1250
6 -2282 -1194 -869 -363 0 693 1248

(The figures in this table are all given in cents. For all partials except the nominal, the partials are given from the nominals of the bell. Cents of the nominals are relative to the tenor. Pairs of values indicate a doublet. Frequencies for the quint are often not given, especially if inaudible.)

Intensity plots

(Not yet plotted.)


The tower notice definitely states that these bells were tuned by Whitechapel in 1969 - I remember them being removed from the tower at the time they were rehung. However, there is no sign in the partials of any tuning. These are a classic old-style peal and none the worse for that. Both in the ringing room and outside the tower they are pleasant and musical, and only in the bellchamber are the old-style harmonics really apparent. Here are the bells: one, two, three, four, five, six being rung full circle, recorded from the ringing room.

The nominals show just tuning, though the tenor is a little flat, about 15 cents or so. However, all the bells except the tenor have old-style flat primes, so in fact the pitch of the bells rung together sounds well in tune. The primes in one and three are very flat - over 300 cents or three semitones. All the hums are sharp, and unless there is not enough metal in the bells, I am certain that Whitechapel would have flattened the hums during tuning. This is the biggest sign that if tuning did take place it was very light. Tierces and quint show the scatter one would expect from bells of this period.

So, classic old-style and tuneful with it. The intensity plots would tell us the relative partial intensities and explain why the sharp hums and flat primes in the trebles are not at all intrusive in changes.


Last updated August 29, 2001. Site created by Bill Hibbert, Great Bookham, Surrey