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Bellectronic (1980​-​1984)

by Meurig Elis Huws



Traditional church bell ringing methods transcribed for synthesizer and rhythm accompaniment

Meurig Elis Huws (1959–2020) was born and raised in Cynwyd (pronounced KUN-wid), a small village in rural north Wales. He spent his working life as an engineer at a local agricultural trailer manufacturer, but his real passion was music, often travelling to Manchester and Liverpool for record shopping and live gigs. Huws was also a keen hobby bell-ringer, and was an active member of the St Collen’s church band until the 1990s, when a hand injury forced him to scale back his involvement.

In 1979, a substantial football pools win allowed him to acquire a number of synthesizers and build a modest home studio of the kind that would be out of reach for most amateurs at the time; he would tinker with these in his spare time, but never released anything.

While clearing out the house after his death, his nephew found a number of tapes. Most of these were generic early 80s synth-pop instrumentals - crude works obviously inspired by The Human League, Gary Numan, Amigos and Mute Records, presumably unheard by anyone other than Huws himself, but in amongst these were a handful of reels marked ‘BELLS’, with an accompanying notebook containing details of the recordings. These tapes featured a range of traditional bell-ringing methods transcribed for sequencer and synthesizer, often with rhythm accompaniment – a sort of Anglican proto-techno.

Church bell ringing is in many ways the musical equivalent of combinatorial maths – peals feature every possible combination of (usually) 6-8 notes, without repetition, and arranged such that no two adjacent bells can swap places by more than one place at a time. With hung, swinging bells, being physical objects subject to the laws of physics, there is a standard tempo, and each pitch is fixed, with sets of bells tuned to a conventional Western scale. On the synth versions, however, Huws has sequenced the methods with a range of tempos, sometimes using non-standard scales. Some of the recordings are just the raw method but with very un-bell-like synth patches, while others are more complex, featuring rhythms, or multiple methods running simultaneously (and with different durations, so they weave in and out of each other).

On the macroscopic scale, the recordings seem hypnotic and repetitive, but on the microscopic scale they are anything but – an inspection of the method diagrams proves that, beyond the opening and closing rounds of repeated descending notes, no two lines are the same.

A selection from the bell tapes is presented here for the first time, curated by Huws’ nephew, Gwern Huws.

The cassette j-card includes a number of method diagrams and a helpful glossary of bell-ringing terms. Listeners are encouraged to try following along with a diagram while listening to the corresponding track – it’s quite a trip.


released June 3, 2021

Programmed & recorded in Cynwyd, 1980–1984.
Curated and transferred from the original tapes by Gwern Huws, March 2021.
Visit cccbr.org.uk and/or bellringing.org to learn about the fascinating history, theory & practice of bell ringing.
Cover shows blue-line diagram for Stedman Doubles.




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