The Bells of Vancouver

As I was riding through downtown on Saturday morning, I heard this (it’s an AIF file, about 2 megs; you may need Quicktime to hear it).

What you hear there are change bells. Specifically, the bells of Holy Rosary Cathedral.

These bells are rung very differently from carillons, which are the other kind of musically-tuned tower-sized bells.

The easy way to tell the difference is that carillons are pretty much bells treated as a keyboard-played instrument, and they can play perfectly ordinary tunes (I suppose “Carol of the Bells” would be an appropriate choice). As you can hear above, change bells, though they make melodic sounds, and are tuned to a scale, aren’t used (and probably couldn’t be used) to play a conventional tune. Thus the distinctive sound of change bells. All the mechanical details are laid out in the Wikipedia articles, so just check those.

Oddly enough, there just happens to be a conference of change ringers coming through town, and this may have been the confreres ringing the bells. Nonetheless, they regularly ring Tuesday nights and Saturday mornings for practice, and Sunday morning for service.

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