Video of Bell Ringing

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Peter Stedman
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Joined: Oct 30 2000

I have the chance to do a project on our local church bell ringers. Has anyone done this before and is there any advice on any aspect about doing this. (The joke about a good supply of ear plugs has already been cracked)
Pete

Alan Roberts at work
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Joined: May 6 1999

Yes, and yes, in that order.

I'm a bell ringer and have done no end of video work in bell towers. While the bells can make a huge noise outside, you'll be susprised at how quiet they are inside (that's the whole idea, wake up the neighbours, don't deafen the ringers).

I did one recording with a mike in the bell chamber (actually it was outside the bell chamber door at the top of the stairs) and it sounded all right but the level's rather high, so you need a decent mike to do it. Almost any electret mike will do these days.

I've done a lot of recording in the ringing chamber, because that's what's most interesting. In there, you might not even be able to hear the bells properly, because being sensible folk, we build the towers so that the noise goes outwards, not downwards. But you'll hear a lot of noise from the ropes slapping the ceiling as they go through the holes, and you'll get a lot of sound from the ringers themselves, because the conductor's always giving instructions, even while reinging (I do a lot of it in my home tower).

You don't need any special precautions other than keeping away from the ropes. With a ton or more of metal whizzing around at the end of it, you don't want to get caught up in the works, it tends to get messy.

Depending on what you want to do, I'd use an external mike for recording the bells, an electret (like a lapel mike) on a long wire placved near the bell chamber (but not inside, it gets too loud). For everything else, you might get away with the mike on the camera, the sound level's going to be high but not deafening.

D some sound checks first. Record stuff and play it back through a decent sound system,. If it sounds ok, it is ok.

Experiment, that's the first and last advice you'll get from me

Peter Stedman
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Joined: Oct 30 2000

Ah yes - Alan of course (I'm getting worried about you as, you seem to have done the lot in your time. (I jest) Thanks for all the technical gen but what I was after is the 'treatment' in the job.
Clearly it is not going to be of world wide interest, just the story of this particular team with enough background info on the subject.

I have looked on the web and there are thousands of listings. So Alan, as a bell ringer yourself, how would YOU like to see your local team covered. (Don't say with fertilizer)
Pete. Thanks again.

Alan Roberts at work
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Joined: May 6 1999

Inspiration comes from you, explanation comes from me, perspiration comes from the ringers, exasperation comes from the villagers

Mark Jones
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Joined: Oct 25 2000

just a quickie in terms of the perception of the sound of church bells. They're one of those things where unless we live next to a church, the sound is distant, almost ambient etc. Will you be also capturing some stuff from a distance - you could just set up a minidisc and mic with a friend/other half some way away and then marry up the tracks. Not suggesting you use the distant sound all the way through but some close/far interspersed might be nice? It's like train whistles, they seem more evocative from a distance. Just me 2p. Good luck.

Peter Stedman
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Joined: Oct 30 2000

Alan, now you are trying to do another job - being a comedian. That's MY job so you are being 'TOLLED' off. Ho Ho Ho.
Peter

RayL
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Joined: Mar 31 1999

My knowledge of bell-ringing is limited to 'The Nine Tailors' but surely 'Stedmans' is a type of change-ringing and why has nobody commented on this amazing coincidence up to now?

Ray Liffen

Peter Stedman
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Joined: Oct 30 2000

Yes Ray - I was waiting for that one . . . I only found out myself recently on the web. Peter

Alan Roberts at work
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Joined: May 6 1999

I wasn't going to show off, but.....

Fabian Stedman was the first person to write about bell ringing. He was a famous ringer in Cambridge (17th century IIRC) and I've rung some of the bells he rang. He wrote down some of the "methods" that were being rung in his day, particularly "Grandsire" and alomost incidentally, the one that bears his name "Stedman". In fact "Stedman" isn't a method, it's a principle because all the bells do all the work rather than having one bell (usually the treble) doing something different from the others (like plain hunting etc).

These methods or principles describe the path that each bell takes among the others while they are changing. There are many thousands of them, I know a few, but my Psion 3a can ring about 400 of them using software that I wrote for it, including animated ringers pulling the ropes.

If anybody reading this is going to be at the Video Forum, nail me there and I'll gladly bore the pants of anybody about ringing.