The Sound of Bells

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The historical development of bell tuning

The history of bell-founding in the UK, from the standpoint of the physical evidence (shapes, founder's marks, inscriptions etc.) has been well documented by Stahlschmidt, Elphick, Sharpe, Dalton and many others. Classic works include:

However, apart from Dalton's books on Dorset bells, no-one has attempted to document the historical evolution of the sound of bells. This is unexpected given that bells are musical instruments which exist because of their sound. The most likely reason is lack of an easily established objective basis for comparison. To fill this gap, I am planning a number of 'occasional pieces' documenting pieces of the historical record of particular interest from the perspective of the sound of bells.

The first of these pieces investigates the tuning of nine peals of Taylor bells between the 1870s and the first world war, when Taylors were developing true-harmonic tuning:

More pieces will be posted as I do the research. In addition, brief histories of the various UK bellfounding firms put matters in historial context. Here are two, gleaned from various sources:


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Last updated May 12, 2002. Site created by Bill Hibbert, Great Bookham, Surrey