Ringing at the Speed of Prayer

Ringing at the Speed of Prayer

Pealing the bells within
Brian Dewan
Brian Dewan
Jamie Barnes
Liverpool Cathedral Bell Ringers
Catalog Number: 
new music

Catskill, NY

Release Date: 
Feb 3, 2009
Liner Notes: 
1 CD
One Sheet: 

In the autumn of 2006, Brian Dewan presented the Liverpool Cathedral Bell Ringers with performance instructions for Ringing At The Speed Of Prayer. Each of eight ringers was to arrive at the bell tower with a number of prayers of their own choosing; after saying each prayer (which can be any length) the ringer pulls the rope and sounds the bell, then returns the bell to its original position. After saying another prayer, the bell is rung again. This yields a sparse and jagged melody created not by an author but by Providence. Though the ringers and their prayers can be neither seen nor heard outside the tower, it is because of them that the bells can be heard below intermingling with the sounds of automobiles, airplanes, emergency vehicles and the chimes of ice-cream trucks, an intermingling of the public and private, the seen and unseen, the secular and the sacred. 

The other pieces on this album are performed on the Rock Harmonicon at the Keswick Museum in England's mountainous and rural Lake District. The instrument was chiseled from a kind of local slate that rings like a bell when struck. Brian Dewan and Jamie Barnes of the Keswick Museum play a hymn tune upon the stones, striking them with wooden hammers at a gradually waning tempo. (The final piece is the same melody produced by stroking the stones.) The instrument also possesses a rack of Alpine bells, which are rung in a methodical scheme that cuts a diatonic scale in half and half again in a piece called Split Staircase. 

All of the these pieces unfold slowly, the sounds marking time in long intervals like milestones, each sound a single landmark in time. Brian Dewan is an artist and musician living in Catskill New York.


.....This is an intriguing experiment

..... a fine, Japanese Zen meditative quality.

.....Both Rock of Ages and Ages and Ages are played on the fascinating Musical Stones of Skiddaw in Keswick Museum. 

- Dominy Clements, MusicWeb International