Song Lyric Sunday 6/4/17 – The Bell Ringing/The Men of Northlew

A happy memory? Hah, as if I had many of those. Seriously. In my 30 years and 3 months on this planet, I’d say I’ve spent about 30 years and 2 months cumulative in total misery. Seriously. My life up to this point has been seemingly nothing but a constant shitfest. Somehow I’ve managed to hide that pain from the people I encounter on a day-to-day basis but it really is true. Sure, there are short bouts of pleasure interspersed in between those things but I always wind up back to square one.

I actually tend to agree with philosophy professor David Benatar when it comes to the state of sentient existence, “Each one of us was harmed by being brought into existence. That harm is not negligible, because the quality of even the best lives is very bad – and considerably worse than most people recognize it to be.” Yeah, that statement definitely rings true for me. Well, I know the overall culmination of my life has been that way anyway.

Well, in thinking of the happiest memory I have I’d have to say it has to do with bell ringing, as pathetic as that sounds. Probably the happiest I’ve ever been is when I rang my first “quarter peal” – a change bell ringing performance consisting of 1,260 changes or permutations of the bells. It’s a hobby that’s really all-consuming and requires full physical and mental concentration.

As such, I’m posting this song about bell ringing. This is a traditional English round (#1515) with an unknown author. This song is basically about a “striking competition” – a bell ringing competition featuring a set “test piece” of call changes or a method (two systems of permuting the bells) and the band that rings the test piece with the fewest “faults” or “striking errors” and the most steady tempo is declared the winner.

I will say there is some bell ringing jargon in here, but not enough to confuse anyone. So with that, here is the song, arranged by composer David Solomons. The lyrics are in the video so I won’t bother transcribing them here.

As an added bonus, I’ve decided to give you all a brief taste of what change ringing is. You’ll hear in this clip how the bells start ringing in sequence, then start changing according to a pattern (in this case, Grandsire Triples). It’s also easy to differentiate an evenly struck change vs. a change with one or more striking errors. This might clear up some of the meaning.

OK, I know, this is probably the lamest Song Lyric Sunday in history. I’m sorry I couldn’t do better than this. I’ve had a long day, I’m in a bit of a crabby mood and I just want a drink, an ambien and some sleep right now.

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10 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday 6/4/17 – The Bell Ringing/The Men of Northlew

    • It’s mostly an English thing but there are some towers in North America, Australia/New Zealand and South Africa that have change ringing bell towers.

      I’ve been ringing for 14 years and couldn’t imagine my life without it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I did a little Google search on change ringing (correct term?) and wow! The history behind it, the precision of it… I think it’s an awesome & unique thing to be involved in. I was trying to figure out if there are any events at the missions here in So Cal but came up with zilch. Would you know if any groups (is perform right?) ring at the missions? From the video it looks intense but fun. I’d love to go listen to a ringing.

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  1. I think this was a cool post. I know nothing about bell ringing, but I can only imagine, from watching the video, how hard it must be and how much talent it takes. I’m happy you’ve found some joy. Take care! ❤️

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    • You can’t ever truly master the art of bell ringing. New methods are being composed every day and it does take full mental and physical concentration. There’s a certain amount of physical exertion required (the bells weigh several hundreds of pounds after all) but most of it is mental focus and endurance.

      Very challenging but just about anyone with access to a tower can do it and in England kids start ringing as young as like 6 years old and they can go on well into their geriatric days.

      Hope you continue to feel better yourself.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Not lame at all, really interesting. Church bells like this are quite a common sound in the UK but I’ve never really given much thought to how the music is actually produced. Looks like a lot of coordination involved.

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