You could say it is a very finely tuned art.
And new, much talked-about bells have hit the right notes with their ringers at Mirfield Parish Church, who from their installation in 1869 up until April this year had to practice with out of tune instruments.
Now, with what they believe is one of the finest sounding peels in Yorkshire if not England, the current all-ages group is on the look out for new members to share their passion for the craft.
Chloe Glover met the campanologists at their weekly Thursday night practice to find out why they think it is good for your health, relaxation and friendships, as well as a great way to enjoy a guilt free cake break.
If you are looking for a novel way to work out, bell ringing may not be a bad idea.
Climbing the 122 steps up a tight, winding staircase up the tower of the dramatic Church Lane building will certainly leave you needing a breather for a start.
A recovery later, it was there where I met bell captain Ian Ackroyd and five other ringers, the secret team who have been providing the sound track to weddings, Christmas services and even the 2012 Olympics with tunes that ring out across the neighbourhood.
I found out that practice had already started before I reached the deceivingly spacious, cylindrical space, it was hard after all to ignore the sound of several bells that weigh up to one and a half tonnes cascading down the stairs.
Fortunately, standing in the room itself will not leave you with a permanent ringing in your ears, thanks to some quality insulation.
“We’re in the process of installing a system that will reduce the noise outside”, said Ian, happily smiling away.
“At the start we have to keep ringing the bells until they move from facing down to up.
“We do the same at the end of the evening to bring them back to rest.”
The other ringers had positioned themselves evenly around the room, holding fluffy red, white and blue covers called sallys, which cover part of the long, thick ropes.
“We need 10 people to ring a full peel of all the bells,” said Ian.
“We have around nine but we need a good few more in case someone is ill or can’t make it to an event.
“At the moment we have to get people to step in from other groups to help us.”
Learning the ropes
Eager to have a go myself, I was stopped in my tracks by Ian, who was keen to point out it would be a good idea to understand what I actually needed to do first.
It is not just a case of pulling on the ropes, which could damage the bells.
The real technique would be easy for fishing enthusiasts – a smooth motion like casting a line, returning your arms to in front of your chest and only pulling gently down when the rope moves upwards.
The momentum is enough to get the bell to ring out, although trying to keep it in time with the others is a different kettle of fish.
“It can take on average six months to get a grip on them, but it depends on the person,” said Ian.
“The main thing is to keep calm, concentrate and listen to the other bells.
“You don’t have to be strong, it’s all in the technique.”
But research suggests that bell ringing does provide a good workout, with improved upper body strength, flexibility and cognitive function all cited by various sources.
It all justifies the homemade cake stop half way through the session.
“I’m led to believe it’s a sport I hate football but love bell ringing”, said Ian.
“We practice for one hour and when we do events we can ring for half an hour before and then three quarters afterwards.
“It’s about working as a team and we move from bell to bell it gives quite a nice sound and the impression that there are more bells than there actually are
“We have a lot of weddings at the church and people like to have the bells rung so we get quite busy.
“We also ring them for the carol service and rang them for the start of the Olympics in 2012 along with other bell ringers across the country.”
Music to your ears
Their brand new set of bells, which were recast out of the originals, have caught the eyes of bell ringers nationwide.
“They sound 100 times better,” said Ian.
“There’s just no comparison to be made with these bells and the originals.
“We just got used to playing them out of tune and those from other towers didn’t like them.
“Now they are booking to come and have a go on them.”
What the other ringers think
Rachel Walker, 34, is one of the other regular ringers, along with Mark Jennings, 48, and Francis Dudley, 17.
She explained that no one has to be religious or local to attend.
“I think some people may be put off because they think you have to go to church to get involved but you don’t have to be religious at all.
“And you don’t have to be local to Mirfield to come along– we have a member who comes from Holmfirth.”
For Francis, bell ringing is an alternative to his friends’ past times.
“I helped to bring the old bells down and wanted to get involved.
“I’ve got friends in bands and bell ringing is something different, which is why I like it.
“It’s a bit frustrating when it goes wrong but it’s fun.”
And it is the relaxing element that chimes so well with Mark.
“I’d always wondered what went on up in the tower,” he said.
“It’s very relaxing because you concentrate so much – I’m really glad I know how to do it.”