A tiny slice of a full peal

Two exciting firsts for me yesterday.

Bell ringers just before they climb up into the tower

The more important and wholly satisfactory experience was listening to over an hour and a half of the full peal of bells that was rung by the ringers at St James Episcopal Church here in Dallas. My wonderful contact there, Jan Eppinette (center of the group, above), explains that they did “eight extents of five methods.” Okay, that’s not really an explanation, more of a description, but thanks to her and thanks to my reading lately, I more or less understand what that means. Bottom line, they rang all six of their bells through about five thousand changes. The ringers labored alone inside the ringing chamber, pulling their ropes in just the right way to ring a 500 lb bell, once every two seconds or so, for nearly three hours, without a break. It’s a major achievement.

For me, it was simply a joy to listen to. As I said on my personal Facebook page, I think it’s possible this is what I’ll hear in Heaven, if I make it there. Stravinsky said, “Melody is the most artificial thing in music.” I thought of that yesterday listening to the ringing of the changes. Change ringing is gloriously musical, but with more math than melody. I listened from outside in the church parking lot, where Jan said I’d hear best.

Which leads me to my other, and somewhat less satisfactory, first for the day: my first use of a DSLR to take video. Actually, the video as captured isn’t completely terrible. But there’s a lot more to video than you might think. The wind noise in this clip near the beginning is ugly and if I had any idea what I was doing I bet I could have prevented it. I also need to learn how to use iMovie to export a better quality video for the Web. I love still photography and honestly don’t have much interest in video. But since the cameras can now do it, I reckon I should learn a little. I plan to keep at this and hope to get better little by little.

Besides, the bell ringing was the sort of thing that it’s all but impossible to take a photo of. No one was permitted into the ringing chamber, as it would cause an intolerable distraction.

Anyway, here is just a tiny slice (a minute and a half) of the “full peal”.

The way I feel about my taking video with my DSLR reminds me of the old joke about the talking dog: the remarkable thing isn’t that he does it so badly, it’s that he does it at all.

2 comments on “A tiny slice of a full peal

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