Sunday, January 25, 2009

In Which I Get Ahead of Myself

Janice's comment on my last post made me realize that I need to do a basic bell intro here. I got a much better graphic than I can make from the Central Council website.

This is how a bell normally hangs. For change ringing you start with the bell "mouth" up. Hence the raising. Now, as you ring, the stay swings around with the bell, and comes into contact with the slider, which slides (duh!) to the end of the runner board. The next swing of the bell brings the other side of the stay into contact with the other side of the slider, sliding it over to the other side of the runner. The slider will only go so far, and when it is at its farthest, the bell is over the balance. Setting a bell means gently bringing the bell over the balance fully, leaving the bell mouth up, stay against slider at the end of its path. Stays are made of ash, just like baseball bats, and the reason is that ash will break if necessary, sacrificing itself to save more important parts of the structure. Sliders are made of oak, and are not meant to break. Overpulling can cause you to bang the stay against the slider, and banging the stay can result in broken stays. But as with so many things in life, just because you can doesn't mean you should. So you try not to bang the stay and try to learn to ring without breaking any. Here is a good page with animations of bells ringing so you get an even better idea of how it works. The middle link in the top row called "swing bell" particularly illustrates the action of the stay on the slider.

Ok, so the video below is of me raising a bell. Starting from the raised or up position means that when the band is ready, ringing can commence immediately. At the beginning of the video, you see me take the tail in my left hand and gently pull the sally. If the bell is indeed down, it will rock gently back and forth, causing the sally to bob up and down like in the video. You never assume the bell is down, so if I pulled and it was up, the bell would "come over", or, start its downswing. So that I am not screwed at that point, I have the tail in hand, and can stay in control of the bell. Then I put energy into the bell so it will swing higher and higher until it finally can be set to make it ready for ringing. One day I will learn to "raise in peal". That is when the whole band raises all the bells at once, in order, like rounds but more chaotic.

I hope this helps clarify a few basics for now. I'll try to remember to fill in background info in the future.

1 comment:

  1. I'm totally not afraid to say I understand something when I don't! And see what happened? I learned some fascinating stuff! I particularly loved the animations, which explained some stuff I hadn't known before. Since I'd only ever seen ringing on handbells...