The bell is one of the oldest, and certainly is the loudest of, musical instruments. The sound of a bell has the power to charm, to amaze, to warn, to frighten, and to lift the spirit. Bells are ubiquitous even in our electronic age. And yet the way in which a bell produces its sound is complex, and even such a simple question as which note a bell sounds can have surprising and unexpected answers.
This website describes investigations over many year into the sound and tuning of bells. In the early stages of research I developed a software package (Wavanal) which allows easy investigation into bell acoustics. The software is free and can be downloaded here.
In April 2008 I was awarded a PhD by The Open University based on research into the musical acoustics of bells, and in particular the note we hear when a bell is rung. The full text of the thesis and introductory articles are available on this site.
Since completing the PhD the research has continued. I have a growing collection of over 8,800 bell recordings with dates spanning 9 centuries, hundreds of founders and many countries which I use for ongoing investigations. Regular updates to this site document recent investigations.
For an introduction, including lots of bell sounds to listen to, click here.
- Identifying Bell PartialsDescription of a simple experimental procedure for identifying the nodal patterns of bell partials. […]
- Strike notes and tuning of old-style bellsInvestigation of the tuning of 30 historic peals of eight and ten showing their strike pitches were tuned more accurately than expected, followed by a review of the few written accounts of historic methods of bell tuning. […]
- Tubular bellsDetermining the strike pitch of tubular bells. […]
- Long-waisted bellsComparison of the partials of five long-waisted bells shows a pattern to the lower partials that helps with analysis. […]
- St George, Poynton, CheshireA classic Taylor peal from 1887. […]