Change ringing does sound good. The typical bell tower in the United States is attached to an Episcopal Church (with a few exceptions) and has eight tuned bells that form a diatonic scale. Some towers have 10 (the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., for example) or even 12 bells (Trinity Wall Street).
Invariably, the bells ”” giant instruments cast in a foundry ”” are procured from England. Many are very old. They are mounted in a manner that enables them to rest in the upright position and turn a little more than 360 degrees when rung. A rope is attached to a big wheel in such a way that pulling it gets the bell going in both directions.
A ‘stay,’ or rigid piece of wood, projects from the bell’s crossbeam and reaches the ‘slider,’ another piece of wood fixed at one end but able to slide a little to and fro at the other end. A properly struck bell has just enough momentum to get it back into the upright position with each pull of the rope. The stay reaches the slider, preventing the metal tonnage of the bell from continuing in the same direction. Another pull on the rope and the bell comes ’round the other way.
David Porter, tower captain at Grace Episcopal Church, is teaching me the hand stroke. The hand stroke and back stroke together cause a complete two-dong ring. A circle of practiced ringers can achieve ‘perfect striking’ with even and orderly strokes. The rings of the bells overhead should be evenly spaced. It requires concentration and adroit maneuvering.