The Sound of Bells

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Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, Abbey Church of SMV, 12, 27-1-5 cwt in D

Recorded: WAH 22/2/01
Analysed: WAH 3/3/01, 7/4/01

These bells are a complete Taylor twelve of 1962, with a flat sixth of 1991. The tower has a huge floor area - it is said to be the largest Romanesque tower in Britain - and the large space around the bells, together with the qualities of the bells themselves, make them first class to listen to. Without further ado, here is rounds on the 12 and, with thanks to David Bagley, the back ten ringing stedman.

Bell Founder Tuning
1 - 6 Taylor 1962 -
flat 6 Taylor 1991 -
7 - 12 Taylor 1962 -

Tuning of main partials

Tenor nominal: 583 Hz

Bell Hum Prime Tierce Quint Nom'l S'quint O'nom.
1 -2406 -1203 -897 -486 1939 661 1173
2 -2407 -1204 -900 -497 1735 666 1187
3 -2410 -1204 -907 -489 1632 674 1202
4 -2409 -1201 -903 -493 1426 692 1236
5 -2404 -1200 -909 -499 1222 692 1242
6 -2401 -1201 -906 -493 1122 691 1238
6f -2394 -1203 -899 -489 1016 693 1247
7 -2400 -1202 -901 -495 917 697 1254
8 -2395 -1197 -889 -516 708 694 1243
9 -2399 -1206 -895 -493 507 697 1257
10 -2394 -1206 -895 -489 402 698 1254
11 -2399 -1204 -895 -492 203 698 1257
12 -2403 -1206 -896 -491 0 700 1260

(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

Here are four of the bells from various points in the peal:

Tewkesbury treble

Tewkesbury fourth

Tewkesbury eighth

Tewkesbury tenor


These bells are tuned with octave stretch, quite unashamedly so, with the treble 40 cents sharp and the stretch spread evenly through the peal. This was first drawn to my attention by David Bagley, who suggested that if Wavanal was returning such results it must be the program, not the bells! However, octave stretched they are. The tuning of the lower partials in each bell is very accurate, as will be seen from the table above.

The tuning of the superquints and octave nominals is quite interesting. These show a considerable sharpening from trebles to tenors, and the octave nominals of the front bells are really quite flat compared with most modern bells. As these two partials will not have been tuned, we are seeing here some gradation in the shape or profile of the bells from front to back.

This gradation in shape is confirmed by examining the spectral intensity plots throughout the peal. The spectra of the trebles are quite different from those of the back bells. The trebles have strong hums, moderate primes, weak nominals and nothing much above. This is a very similar profile to the trebles at Greenwich and the old bell at Great Bookham. By the time we get round to the fourth the tierce has taken over as the strongest partial. Most of the heavier bells have a classic modern profile, with weak hum and higher partials. The eighth has possibly the strongest high partials. The tenor has a good profile - some high partials but not enough to really concern, and a good strong nominal. Many of the back bells have a noticeable 11th (the partial at about 500 cents above the nominal) but fortunately this partial is quite subdued in the tenor, avoiding a secondary strike.

It is notable that the intensity profile of the flat 6th is very similar to the 6th. Taylors clearly used the same profile for the new bell in 1991 as they did in 1962.

All in all, a good peal of bells.


Last updated April 7, 2001. Site created by Bill Hibbert, Great Bookham, Surrey