Having worked at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry for 40 years, Nigel Taylor is the perfect guide to how to tune a bell, talking podcast host Cathy Booth through the whole process from design to casting and tuning. And if you’ve never considered the actual sound a bell makes before, this podcast will be a revelation.
You might never use the word ‘dong’ again after you discover that a tower bell is inharmonic, which means although a bell appears to have a single distinct pitch, the sound is made up of a variety of different tones.
As Nigel describes how this all works, Cathy gets the answers to a host of fascinating questions, such as why new bells sound different to old bells, how the shape of old bells makes a difference to how you retune them and which bells are the hardest to tune.
Be warned though, after listening to this podcast you may well wish to scramble up a ladder into the tower to look at the bells, just as Nigel did as a boy.
Top 5 takeaways
- Find out more about the campaign to save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry here http://www.savethewhitechapelbellfoundry.com/
- You don’t need to have perfect pitch, or even pitch memory, to become a bell tuner. Nowadays there are all sorts of sophisticated computer equipment to help.
- Listen to some old bells and some new ones. Can you tell the difference? How do you feel when the ringing ends and the tenor sets?
- Nowadays any inscriptions and decorations on a bell are created by attaching silicone on the bell pattern. Are there any interesting inscriptions on your tower’s bells?
- Why not visit a foundry and see the process for yourself, or even organise a trip for your tower http://taylorbells.co.uk/visiting/
Sponsor: This podcast is sponsored by the Association of Ringing Teachers (ART). To find out more about learning to ring, learning to teach or other resources to support your ringing go to bellringing.org.