Music: The Brave Bells

When the church bells of France or Italy ring out in the sparkling air. they are apt to sound joyously at random or to strike the lilting cadence of a set tune. But such lightheartedness seems foreign and effete to English campanologists. Their idea of a rousing time in the belfry is to ring changes—mathematical permutations of a series of carefully tuned bells. To untrained ears, ringing changes sounds like the din of boilermakers at work, but the English love the arithmetical beauty of it all.

Begun as a sport by aristocrats in the 17th century, scientific bell ringing fell into disrepute...

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