Wordsmiths who don't ring may call it campanology, but people who ring bells call it bellringing. It's the heaviest metal you'll ever hear. For some it's an intrusion into their silent life (who has one of those in the 21st century?); for others it's a sound of heritage and history; for still others it's a call to church.
For many it's just a clangour. But stop a moment and think. A the end of each rope is a human being whose two hands are causing a bell and its clapper to connect at exactly the right moment to cause a rhythic series of notes to... well, to ring out. Each of those people has practiced and leart the craft for years before getting it exactly right. And even then, you never stop learning.
So what's difficult?
Have a look at the image alongside. Hover your mouse over it. Realise the bell itself can be about ¾ of a ton. At each point the bell comes to a stop the wooden bit the rope's attached to comes to rest against a wooden stay; so allowing the two bits of wood to hit hard is, let's say, not a good idea.
Add to that the knowledge that the bell strikes at about the 8 o'clock and the 4 o'clock positions. You can't see when it strikes as you're the floor below. Add the requirement to ring at a regular rhythm and alter that rhythm when needed, and you start to realise why it takes a long time to learn to ring.
Calling the changes
It's not just an expression in English. A conductor calls bells into different patterns and you have to alter the gap between you and the bell in front... Look: start off in the descending scale -
The conductor calls "6 to 4".
So he's telling the no 6 bell to follow the 4 instead of the 5. It's a new order for the bells ring in -
What it means is that the ringer of the 6 has to ring faster for 1 stroke, whilst the 5's ringer has to ring slower for that same stroke. A stroke is one of the two distinct motions the guy alongside can bee seen performing. Extend that idea - call the changes - and you'll end up with delightfully named patterns like Queens -
or Tittums (yes! really!). It sound like ti-tum, ti-tum, ti-tum, titum. And you thought I was being rude about the Monarch's physique, didn't you? -
And that's before you get onto the various Methods, which are predetermined ways of ringing a pattern of changes which can change at just about every stroke. And even then the conductor calls special variations to it. No, you can't look at the music. There isn't time because you're too busy looking at other people's bells to find out where you are and get a regular rhythm.
So now you know.
Oy - you at the back! Were you paying attention?