Church Bell Recordings
For many people, the sound of traditional Church bell ringing is an iconic part of the English countryside. Practiced for centuries, it is a style of ringing Church bells which relies on the bells being mounted on large wheels in the belfry, so that the speed of ringing each bell can be altered by the ringer below, allowing them to either ring in rounds (descending scales) or change position within a sequence of ringing by holding their bell up or slightly quickening the pace to vary the order in which the bells are struck. This can either be done by 'call changes' where one designated ringer (called a conductor) calls the bells into a different order to produce a musical effect, or by ringing methods (or patterns) where each ringer will move their bell in a certain sequence, so that the rows of notes produced by the bells are constantly changing. Each ringer must learn a particular method in order to know where to strike their individual bell. This is known as 'method ringing'. Methods rung in this way vary in complexity and many ringers enjoy the challenge of learning these together in groups and achieving more and more intricate patterns as their skill at ringing increases. For this reason, bellringing is an absorbing, stimulating and sociable hobby, enjoyed by many people as they challenge themselves to develop whilst providing a traditional service to the Church and local community. To learn more about the history and practice of bellringing or to find out about learning to ring, visit the website of the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers. If you are based geographically near to us, you are welcome to come and learn to ring Church Bells at All Saints' in Marsworth - we offer both intensive courses and ongoing lessons provided by trained ringing teachers, and our tower is certificated by the Association of Ringing Teachers.
When are Church bells usually rung?
Bells are traditionally rung before (and sometimes after) Church services, for weddings, state occasions, significant public events (such as to commemorate the London 2012 Olympics or the Queen's Diamond Jubilee) and tolled for funerals or memorials. For more sombre occasions like these and on Remembrance Sunday, bells may be rung half muffled. This involves fitting a leather pad to one side of the clapper which strikes the bell so that every other 'stroke' or blow is softened - this creates a more mournful tone. Examples of half muffled ringing can be heard on our second album 'Church Bells - A Collection'.
How are Church bells made?
Although the vast majority of Church bells rung in the UK are centuries old, it is still necessary to make new ones to replace worn out or broken bells or to augment the number of bells in a particular tower. For further information about how Church bells are cast and repaired, visit the websites of Taylor's Bell Foundry or Whitechapel Bell Foundry.
What can recordings of Church bells ringing be used for?
In situations where the sound of Church bells ringing is required, yet there are no tower bells available nearby, many people use recorded sound effects of bells, yet a search of the main download sites revealed that although many beautiful performances of ringing were commercially available featuring larger numbers of bells (such as at Cathedrals), there were far fewer recordings of bells being rung in the smaller, rural towers which are so evocative of the English countryside. Both of our albums have been produced to cater for this need with all proceeds from the albums going towards the maintenance and upkeep of our historic, rural bells. Both albums or a specific track can be downloaded instantly via itunes, amazon mp3 or CDbaby and offers authentic recordings of rounds (descending scales) and method ringing, performed on varying numbers of bells (with methods rung at towers housing between 5 and 8 bells).
The bellringers who have contributed to the performances of ringing on these albums are:
Lyndsey B Brett, Richard Booth, Rose Nightingale, Simon J O Head, Ruth Monks, Peter K Phillips, Kevin Pughe, Brian Baldwin, Bob Tregillus,
Nicholas H Brett, Jan Robinson, Richard Stroud, Alan Masters and Steve Millington.
Although we have no immediate plans to release any further albums in 2014, we will continue to record interesting examples of bellringing and these will be made available to download as sound effects through audiosparx.
We also extend our thanks to our friend Leigh Haggerwood for professionally mastering the recordings in his studio, and to Graphic artist Richard Bamsey for preparing the front covers, using photographs of Drayton Beauchamp Church in Buckinghamshire, taken by Richard Booth.
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