By Christopher Monckton of Brenchley
Bob Carter’s Peal, a clock tune composed in memory of the late Professor Bob Carter, seems to have gone viral. In no time at all, Douglas Field put together a YouTube video showing various bell-towers and mechanical clocks accompanying the piano version of the Peal (hear it here).
Professor Robert Carter: may he rest in peace
Mike Haseler, the Scottish skeptic, arranged a souped-up version, which, from one direction, Zayn reworked as a virtuoso funk shuffle (hear it at links below: it’s awesome).
But now, from another direction altogether, what I had hoped has happened. Lou Mackenzie, in the noble tradition of Edinburgh polymaths, has worked for weeks to tune the waveforms of the ancient bells of Ghent Cathedral. He has used the tuned waveforms to play Bob Carter’s Peal as it was intended to be played – as a stately clock-tune on cathedral bells.
Lou has succeeded in retaining the authentic sound of the real cathedral bells. His virtual carillon is light-years ahead of the pasteurized bell-sounds that are commercially available. Some of the Ghent bells, particularly in the bass register, sound just a little off key, for that is what real bells do.
This is partly because the bells are very old, and partly because the harmonics of bells are extremely complex. The note that is struck when the clapper meets the bell is not necessarily the note that continues to sound. Often a secondary note is heard.
The Classical Turmuhrglockenspielsonatine (literally “Tower clock bell play short composition in several movements”) is in four movements. The second and third movements are respectively twice and thrice the length of the first, and the fourth movement, rung out before the hour-bell strikes, is movements 1-3 strung together.
The reason for this repetition can be seen when one realizes how much space read-only memory used to take up before the age of electronics. Huge cam-drums are programmable by arranging the cams to strike any desired sequence of notes. For clock-tunes, the cam-drum rotates twice an hour.
18th-century ROM: the cam-drum of the Ghent carillon
Now all we need is a genius to take the four movements of the Ghent version of Bob Carter’s Peal, add a suitable hour-bell, and set up an electronic carillon to ring out the Peal in his memory every quarter of an hour. Which version do you prefer?
Carillons are rare in Britain because our ancestors invented the sliding detent that allowed each bell to swing through 380 degrees, coming to rest mouth upward. A tug on the bell-rope brings the bell through just over a full circle, allowing the experienced bell-ringer (they don’t like to be called campanologists) to time the strike precisely. This allows what is called “change-ringing” – playing the bells in a precise sequence.
Because each bell takes time to revolve through 360 degrees, it cannot sound again until at least two other bells have sounded. This restriction gave rise to one of the oldest uses of deterministic combinatorics in deciding the order in which all possible sequences of n bells can be sounded.
English change-ringing, which is practiced throughout the Anglosphere, is vastly superior to the unholy jangling that is the best that most Continental bell-towers can manage, with each bell swinging only through 120 degrees at a rate determined by its weight.
As an alternative to the jangling, carillons became commonplace in Europe, especially in the German-speaking countries. Electronic carillons are spreading rapidly, but – until Lou Mackenzie came along and did the job properly – their bells did not sound like real bells.
When the climate scam finishes dying, as the gap between profitably exaggerated prediction and unexciting real-world observation widens beyond all possibility of data-tampering, the few good and brave scientists like Bob Carter will deservedly be remembered for all they did to try to defend the reputation of the scientific method against the hateful political forces that came so very close to destroying it. Long may his Peal ring out in his honor.
Bob Carter heard me playing this piano
Audio clips of the different renditions are below. Click the arrow to play.