I see your nine hours and raise you 10,000 years

The visionary Brian Eno has outdone the nine hour performance concocted by Dorothy Sayer in The Nine Tailors. He’s imagined a change ringing method that will last 10,000 years. See these gorgeous, noble Bristlecone Pines? They are some of the oldest living things on earth—the oldest known specimen is over 5,000 years old. And they grow right here in the western United States at high altitudes. It’s no coincidence, then, that the location for the second clock that will ring out this 10,000 year change ringing method is near a grove of these Bristlecone pines in eastern Nevada. The 10,000 … Continue reading I see your nine hours and raise you 10,000 years

The Nine Tailors’ Nine-Hour Bell Performance Part II

In the last installment, we made sense of a relatively simple change ringing method, the Plain Bob Major, as a basis to understanding the Kent Treble Bob Major, which is performed for nine hours in The Nine Tailors. So here’s the grid for the Kent Treble Bob Major. It’s more complicated than the Plain Bob Major, definitely. That means there are more rules for the ringers to follow. But, more rules means more permutations and hence longer performances. Now that we understand better why the bells will swap places rather than continuing back and forth across the grid (hint: to … Continue reading The Nine Tailors’ Nine-Hour Bell Performance Part II

The Nine Tailors’ Nine-Hour Bell Performance

I recently finished Dorothy Sayers’ The Nine Tailors, a mystery novel in which bells feature prominently. The setting is a provincial English town with a formidable church and an equally formidable set of bells. These bells are rung in the change ringing tradition, so that each bell (in this case, eight bells) is rung by a separate person pulling on its rope. Early on in the book, the local Rector organizes a performance of the bells lasting nine hours. That is no small feat considering there is only one ringer per bell (so each person is constantly at work) and … Continue reading The Nine Tailors’ Nine-Hour Bell Performance

Patterns in the Sand

Check out this demonstration of Chaldni plates! The demonstrator changes the frequency by changing the position of the bow and his finger at the edge. For every frequency a different sand pattern arises according to the vibration pattern of the plate. Where there are few vibrations, called nodes, the sand settles, and where there are a lot of vibrations, called antinodes, the sand scatters. These resonance patterns arises for any instrument with a resonant body, including bells. Furthermore, an instrument, such as the bell, will vibrate at several different patterns at the same time. These different vibration patterns are what … Continue reading Patterns in the Sand

Paul Revere, Bell Founder

Did you know that Paul Revere cast bells? I know, right!? He warns of enemy troops AND casts bells—he’s a patriot after my own heart. And really, he did it all. He was at one time or another a silversmith, engraver, revolutionary propagandist, soldier, cannon founder, dentist, hardware store proprietor, coppersmith, and bell founder. Well, ok, the jobs of silversmith, cannon founder, coppersmith, and bell founder are all variations on the same profession of metalworking. Revere established his metalworking business not long after the American Revolution. His first bell was cast in 1792 for his own church, the New Brick … Continue reading Paul Revere, Bell Founder