A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Bells (Peals)

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BELLS are rung in peal in the British Islands only, with the exception of one or two rings of bells in America and the Colonies. On the Continent they are simply clashed, being swung with a lever—the notes of the bells not being arranged in any special order. In our islands it is usual to tune bells in the diatonic scale, and they are then rung in order from the highest to the lowest.

To enable the ringers to do this with accuracy, and also to enable them to change the order in which the bells strike by proper methods (see Change-Ringing), bells are hung as shown in the accompanying illustrations:—

(Fig. 1.)

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They are first carefully secured by iron bolts and braces through the ears or 'canons,' K, to the stock A (Fig. 1) which is fitted with axles or gudgeons of iron, M, working in brass or gunmetal bearings. The stock is fitted with a wheel, E, and a stay, B; and a ground pulley, N, is fixed to the floor of the belfry. By pulling the rope, F, the bell is gradually swung till she stands mouth upwards, as shown in Figs. 2 and 3, when she is maintained in this position by the stay B, and slider C, which prevent her from

(Fig. 2.)

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falling over (or turning clean round). It will be seen that when the rope, F, has been pulled enough to bring the fillet or ' sallie pin,' G, down to the nearest point to the ground pulley, N, that it can reach, it would in swinging past that point raise the rope; this gives tie ringer a second pull, M will be seen by reference to Fig. 2, and this is called the 'hand-stroke' pull. Now by following with the eye the motion of the bell as indicated by the arrow in No. 2, she will be seen to turn over, bringing the fillet G past N; then, winding the rope round the wheel as she moves, she will arrive at the position of the bell in Fig. 3—this is called the 'back-stroke' blow.

(Fig. 3.)

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The first thing a ringer has to learn is so to swing his bell by the use of the rope, that he can be quite certain to bring her from one stroke to another, pulling her with proper judgment, so as just to throw her over the balance as shown in Figs. 2 and 3. If however too much force is used, there is a danger of breaking the stay or some other part of the machinery, and the ringer himself may be seriously injured.

An alteration in the method of hanging the bell to the stock has been invented by Sir E. Beckett, though only occasionally carried out. By the ordinary make the 'canons' for hanging are so arranged as to serve only for one position of the bell in regard to the stock, so that turning the bell in order to get the stroke of the clapper in a new position, after it has worn the bell, is impossible. Sir E. Beckett's plan consists in having only four instead of six canons, at right angles to one another and forming a cross, on plan, on the crown of the bell. By this means the position of the bell can be altered by merely unstrapping it and turning it on the stock. As the clapper must always fly in the same plane, it is in this plan bolted to the stock, the bolt passing through a hole in the centre of the crown of the bell.