The Sound of Bells

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.

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