Change Ringing

Did you hear bells played in even succession, one at a time? Did it sound like five to twelve total bells, constantly shifting in order? You may have heard change ringing.

Change ringing at Mitchell Tower at the University of Chicago.

This type of bell ringing is a team sport! One person is assigned to each bell, and each person pulls on a rope to swing the bells around to fly the internal clapper against the bell wall. There are approximately 60 rings in North America.

This style of ringing developed in Europe but was especially beloved in England, where there are the largest concentration of rings today. 

Change ringing requires mathematical know-how to execute. The bells are played in succession, never at the same time, but the order of the bells can never be repeated in a performed series, or a peal. Change ringers devised methods, or rules for the switching and swapping of bells in a sequence, to constantly create new orders of the bells and to keep everyone on track. The result is a shifting constellation of bell tones, pleasing to listen to.

Change ringing at Mitchell Tower at the University of Chicago with Tom Farthing, chime master. Video made by UChicago Creative.