TINTINNABULATIONS for solo harp
"Scintillate the tintinnabulator" my maths master used to say when it was time to ring the school bell, adding his own take to Edgar Alan Poe's beautiful word "tintinnabulations", devised to describe the after-sound of bells lingering in the air. The word has always fascinated me, and so have bells. These pieces are impressions of three memorable church bell experiences, but only the third makes use of the actual sequences and changes that were rung. Owing to the manner in which all the strings of the harp resonate no matter which notes have been played, it is an instrument uniquely capable of tintinnabulating in bell-like fashion.
1. Chimes at Chagford - In 1997 I spent the first of many a New Year's Eve in the village of Chagford, Devon, at the home of harpist Elizabeth Jane Baldry. At midnight the bells of St. Michael the Archangel rang out across the valley, optimistically marking the start of the New Year.
2. Hand Bells at Bosham - One day in 1998 as Elizabeth Jane and I approached the picturesque Holy Trinity Church at Bosham, Sussex, the magical sound of hand bells wafted towards us on the afternoon air. We lingered in the church to watch the ringers, and as we left, the great church bells joined in, lending an element of majesty to this otherwise ethereal experience.
3. Westham Welcome - In August 2012 soprano Sharon Elizabeth and I, newly married, moved into a beautiful Tudor house next to the ancient church of St. Mary at Westham, Sussex. One afternoon shortly after, the church bells pealed out and an excited neighbour knocked on the door to tell us this was the first time they had been rung in ten years! I'm happy to say they have sounded regularly ever since, and though they were not rung because of our arrival, we like to think of their reawakening as a joyous welcome to our new home. Paul Lewis
Duration 16 minutes
Click the play button below to hear a performance which has been computer-generated from the score.