As published in The Ringing World 3 April 2020, p.347

For many people Bells on Sunday (BOS) will be the only way, for now, for the general public to continue to hear the wonderful sound of change ringing. Admittedly BOS is only broadcast for a short period, twice a week, and probably reaches quite a select audience. That said, it does go a small way to ensure the sound of church bells remains part of the English soundscape, and helps ringing be appreciated and understood.

With the enforced period of non-ringing you may be wondering why I am writing this now! Well, firstly, I have just taken over the BOS liaison role, and secondly, those of you who listen regularly to BOS may have noticed that a number of towers appear regularly. This is because the BBC only have about 100 decent recordings, representing probably only 60–75 towers from which to choose. The producer of BOS has asked me to source more recordings that they can use.

It occurs to me that one useful activity during our down time would be to finally sort out those ringing recordings that many of us have made of our local towers, but that are languishing on our PC. Dig them out and submit a good one to me for broadcast on BOS.

Whilst I’m at it I’d also like to use this as an opportunity to start to build up an extensive archive of ringing recordings from across the ringing community, not just the UK, as a resource for bell ringers to enjoy as well as supplying excerpts to the BBC.

Below are some updated guidelines for making and submitting recordings. If you have any questions, then please contact me. I’m new to the role so am learning as I go along, so constructive advice is also welcome.

Phillip Orme


Making a recording

Please record at least 10–15 minutes of bells although longer recordings can be submitted. This will allow us to select the best two minutes or so for broadcast. The ringing itself should have no major mistakes in it please: we are looking to showcase our pursuit of excellence. Important: Please ensure the band have agreed to submission of a recording of their ringing. Submitting a recording shall be taken as implicit permission to use the recording for BOS and also subsequently by the bell ringing community.

Try to find a position to record the bells that is normally quiet, e.g. we advise not next to a busy road/railway/flight path. If this is not possible, plan the recording for a known quiet time – or wait for the area to become quiet; please avoid background conversation at all times. We suggest choosing a day that isn’t windy or rainy to record and also using a stand to keep the microphone as still as possible (we often hear microphone handling noise on recordings sent to us). Beware of bird song during a recording.

If this is to be an outside recording, then stand about 10–15 metres away from the tower and point the microphone about halfway up the tower; that should produce a good sound. If this sounds muffled try pointing higher up the tower, if too tinny, try lower down or angling the microphone away.

Uncompressed 16- or 24-bit stereo recordings in .wav format are preferred; but mp3 is also acceptable.

Submitting a recording

Ideally the recording should be supplied via Googledrive, Dropbox or a similar file transfer mechanism. I can be contacted via email and small files (20Mb or less) can be emailed direct. If you want to post a CD then email me for address details.

Also please supply details of location (dedication etc.) Founder(s) and year, Tenor weight, method(s), etc. A little history, that sort of thing. Have a listen to a few recordings on the BBC BOS website for an idea of the format.

If you have a particular Sunday (well in advance) on which you would like to have your recording broadcast please let me know (800th anniversary of the building of the tower, that sort of thing); no guarantee, but I will do my best to plead your case for a particular date. The BBC prepare their schedule for broadcast about one month ahead. New recordings are run through with the programme producer and appear to take longer to schedule. When I submit a recording I am able to recommend a broadcast start point.

Some added advice previously agreed with the BBC on the recordings finally submitted to them for inclusion on BOS: As broadcast time is limited it is advised [that a submitted recording has] no more than 20 seconds of rounds before commencement of the touch, better still start recording (or edit the rounds) during a touch. In order for the public to latch on and begin to understand the music it is a good idea to start your recording just before a course end in odd bell methods especially in Caters and Cinques, or just prior to the rollups as in say, 3 leads of Bristol Major. Multiple rollups off the front would also be of interest. Separate tracks with different methods are acceptable. Please also include some written notes to enable the BBC presenter to give hopefully the correct broadcast information.


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Central Council of Church Bell Ringers