An interview with Nigel Taylor
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/