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Nearly Naked Notion - Bell Piece

Posted: Sat Dec 08, 2018 2:46 pm
by michaelmyers1
This is a scorecast that I created using notion. I remain convinced that Notion is second to no other notation program in terms of performance and playback. I think especially when it comes to winds, percussion, keyboards and brass, Notion instruments are exceptional.

This piece was recorded with all native Notion instruments, with the exception of the tenor voice, which was Soundiron's Voices of Rapture Tenor.

Let me know what you think!

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Re: Nearly Naked Notion - Bell Piece

Posted: Sat Dec 08, 2018 4:45 pm
by Surf.Whammy
This sounds good on the MacBook (13-inch, Aluminum, Late 2008) I use occasionally, which as best as I can determine is monaural, since all the sound for everything (music videos, movies, and so forth) appears to come from the right side of this MacBook . . . :)


The audio no doubt is stereo, but if I am listening to it as virtual monaural audio, then this is a good indication that the mixing is done correctly . . .

[NOTE: In Mac OS X "System Preferences" for this MacBook, the "Sound" panel has a balance control, and if I alternate it from far-left to far-right, there is a difference; but the tiny loudspeakers are so close together that effectively it's monaural. I did some research and discovered that on this MacBook model the right speaker has a subwoofer, but the left speaker does not have a subwoofer; so that explains the right side being dominant, plus it's 10 years-old. And on a curiously related note, Apple decided to have only one subwoofer on the right rather then one subwoofer for each side, which makes this MacBook model an excellent example of the fact that you need to have a subwoofer for each side of a studio monitor system . . . ]

It's always good to check a stereo mix by listening to it in monaural, which you can do with most Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) applications . . .

As I recall, Studio One Professional 4 has a button to toggle between stereo and monaural on the Master stereo output track, so it's easy to do . . .

I have been watching the BBC series "Midsomer Murders" now that it's included in Amazon Prime, and there was an episode about bell ringers that I watched a few days ago, which refreshed my audio memory regarding church bells . . .

The church bells in this piece are very realistic and have the required dissonance, which is one reason I like "Bell Piece" . . .

Lots of FUN! :)

Re: Nearly Naked Notion - Bell Piece

Posted: Sat Dec 08, 2018 9:36 pm
by Surf.Whammy
As a bit of follow-up, I am back in the sound isolation studio; and I listened to "Bell Piece" with the SONY MDR-7506 headphones, but there aren't any church bells, which is a surprise . . . :o


I prefer the piece when I listen to it with studio quality headphones here in the sound isolation studio; and it's interesting that on the MacBook I clearly heard church bells . . .

I think this is due to the way the more tinkly bells and chimes are blended with the woodwinds and perhaps cathedral pipe organ (or some type of church organ) . . .

When I listen at maximum volume, I start to hear hints of church bells, which is nice . . .

Regardless, I like "Bell Piece" even better now that I have heard it played through studio quality headphones, and I like the spatial work, which for me makes it very interesting . . .

Good work . . .

Lots of FUN! :+1

Re: Nearly Naked Notion - Bell Piece

Posted: Sat Dec 08, 2018 9:50 pm
by michaelmyers1
Thanks for listening, Surf, there are glockenspiel, vibraphones, marimbas, xylophone and two types of bells - tubular bells, and handbells (Swiss Handbells were called for by the composer, but I am not sure if the Notion handbells are Swiss or some other nationality).

Re: Nearly Naked Notion - Bell Piece

Posted: Sun Dec 09, 2018 11:18 pm
by Surf.Whammy
michaelmyers1 wroteThanks for listening, Surf, there are glockenspiel, vibraphones, marimbas, xylophone and two types of bells - tubular bells, and handbells (Swiss Handbells were called for by the composer, but I am not sure if the Notion handbells are Swiss or some other nationality).

The fascinating aspect of "Bell Piece" (George Percy Aldridge Grainger, composed in 1953) is that it has depth and, based on my perspective, is a thoughtful exercise in using non-"Church bells", non-carilion bells, and orchestral instruments to emulate or to hint at what I call "church bells", which is not an easy thing to do even when you have the modern knowledge now available about the acoustic physics and metallurgy of "Church bells" and carilion bells . . . :+1


[NOTE: I knew some of this, but I did additional research and discovered more information . . . ]

Carilions are arrays of bells--typically 23 bells--and are played via a "keyboard" apparatus of levers; but while these are found commonly or perhaps exclusively in churches, they are not "Church bells" in the technical sense of the usage . . .

"Church bells" are singletons and are rung by pulling ropes that swing the "Church bells" individually to cause their "clappers" to ring the bells; and they tend to be larger bells, where the idea is that they are heard over longer distances than smaller bells . . .

[NOTE: Centuries ago, "Church bells" were baptized, which apparently endowed the "Church bells" with the ability to ward-off evil spirits; and this continues to be done in a variation in modern times, where instead of being baptized, they are "blessed" by a priest, which might be the exact same practice but with a different, more modern name similar to christening a ship . . . ]

I did a bit of searching on "Swiss Handbells", but did not find anything definitive . . .

Instead what I found is that there appear to be three types of handbells, (a) English, (b) American, and (c) Dutch, which leads me to think that a reference to "Swiss Handbells" by an Australian-American composer probably refers to English Handbells, which might have been American Handbells, since "Bell Piece" was composed by Grainger in 1953, some 18 years after the Schulmerich company started making English-style handbells in America (see below) . . .

[NOTE: I think it's likely that Grainger would have known about Dutch Handbells, hence would not have called them "Swiss Handbells". The information I found suggests that in America, troupes of English Handbell players were referred to as being "Swiss"--perhaps to add a bit of mystique, even though for the most part they actually were English. The premiere Dutch Bell company, Royal Bellfounders Petit & Fritsen, dates back to 1660, hence has been making bells for nearly four centuries . . . ]

Royal Bellfounders Petit & Fritsen

As best as I can determine, English Handbells and American Handbells have a distinct 12th overtone (octave plus perfect fifth), while Dutch Handbells have a distinct 10th overtone (octave plus minor third) . . .

Handbell (Wikipedia)

This is the link to an American company that makes what I think are English Handbells--although perhaps with some modern improvements specific to the way the "clappers" work, in the sense that they are constrained in their motions rather than being more unrestrained like in "Church bells". The Schulmerich company is the "world's largest producer of handbells" . . .

[NOTE: The "clappers" of some types of handbells are free moving, which requires more control to constrain them; but when the "clappers" are constrained by design, they are more precise and are easier to play. Additionally, these types of "clappers" are designed to hold their centered positions, which allow the handbells to be held upside-down when doing so is convenient or desired by handbell players. This additional center detent constraint allows the handbells to ring unhindered, which is another benefit tonally . . . ]

Schulmerich Handbells

Based on this information, I think the handbells sampled by Bolder Sounds are English Handbells, but I am not certain they have constrained "clappers", although based on the following photo I think they are constrained, at least with respect to having faceted "clappers" instead of ball-shaped "clappers" and what appears to be a center-detent holding position . . .


Handbells V2 for Kontakt 3+ (Bolder Sounds)

The Bolder Sounds Handbells sampled-sound library includes a particularly deep pitched handbell (C2 in scientific pitch notation) played by Randy Richards of the "Denver Bronze" handbell ensemble . . .


This YouTube BBC video provides an overview of the history of bells, including examples of "Church bells" and carillions, where "Church bells" are made from a blend of 77 percent copper and 23 percent tin, both of which as you know are elements and when mixed together form bronze, which also is used to make carillion bells, although I am not certain of the mixture percentages for carillion bells . . .

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Lots of FUN! :)

P. S. Several hours ago, I knew about five percent of this; but now if I am shopping at the local Walmart Supercenter and someone asks me about bells, I am well prepared to embark on an extended soliloquy, which is fabulous . . .

Fabulous! :P

Re: Nearly Naked Notion - Bell Piece

Posted: Mon Dec 10, 2018 9:36 pm
by michaelmyers1
All fascinating, Surf. You never cease to amaze!

I rang the church bell (only one) at the small town church I attended from birth and where I sang in choir as a teenager. It was always a thrill!

This is one of many pieces that Grainger wrote for what he called "tuneful percussion," in other words, mallets, bells, timpani, glockenspiel, marimbas, etc. I recorded some of those pieces on my album E|G|VW, released in 2014:

"Country Gardens" is a piece that uses this instrumentation to great effect.

Regarding your bell research, I think you may be right that Grainger was referring to Dutch bells as "Swiss". The Bell Piece I recorded was composed for his wife, Ella, who apparently played bells, although it seems to me that bells could not possibly be played by a single person (unless that person is an octopus) in any composition of any complexity. I would think it would take a team to play them.

Something I thought about when recording this piece is that the players have to anticipate the note timing so that they start the movement of the bell in the precise time to hit the note exactly when it needs to sound. Additionally, presumably the lower the note, the larger the bell, and therefore the more in advance of the "hit" you'd have to start playing the note! All very interesting, I can't think of a similar instrument.

The hexagonal "clapper" in the photo you show may be for "rolls" as one could (I imagine) move the bell around in a circular motion to get a tremolo or roll type sound.

I have since recorded this piece using VSL instruments in Studio One and am very happy with it. Some final adjustments and I will post it.