Scales and Modes
Abel can play back bell sounds using one of a number of different musical scales or modes. A mode is simply an ordered sequence of musical intervals. Normally, Abel (and most ringing towers and sets of handbells) will use the conventional major scale. You can use one of the other options for variety, or if you want to simulate ringing on the front 6 of an 8 (which many 8 bell towers do in order to use a lighter 6), or if your tower has bells tuned to a minor scale.
Abel provides the following scales and modes, though you can add your own if you wish. Some of these are based on the modern modes (rather than the old Church modes) - you can find useful discussions of modes on the Internet - others are simply for fun.
|The normal major scale and the default in Abel|
|Starts on the second note of the major scale; a true minor mode|
|"Front 6 of the 8" - starts on the 3rd note of the major scale.|
|Starting on the 4th note of the major scale.|
|Starting on the 5th note of the major scale|
|The true minor - equivalent to the modern melodic minor scale descending.|
|Starting on the 7th note of the scale, this is a theoretical mode that shows little evidence of having been used in practice.|
|This is the modern harmonic minor with the "eastern" sounding interval between the 6th and 7th degrees of the scale.|
|The "oriental" sounding scale. If you've never tried pentatonic ringing, give it a go - it can be very mesmerising. Don't use this on very large numbers of bells though as Abel doesn't have enough notes and you'll get an error message.|
|A semitone between each note - can be very confusing in ringing!|
|The whole tone scale was used to great effect by several 20th Century composers. As with the pentatonic scale, when applied to ringing it seems to have a mesmerising effect.|
The different scales and modes are defined in the file scales.ini which can be found in the same directory as the Abel program. It is a text file that you can edit with any text editor such as notepad, and has the following format:
Major (Ionian mode): 2212221 Phrygian Mode ("front 6 of the 8"): 1222122 Aeolian mode (melodic minor descending): 2122122 Dorian mode: 2122212 Lydian mode: 2221221 Mixolydian mode: 2212212 Locrian mode: 1221222 Harmonic minor: 2122131 Pentatonic: 22323 Chromatic: 1 Whole tone: 2
Each line consists of a text description, followed by a colon, followed by a series of numbers. These specify the number of semitones between each degree of the scale, and will automatically repeat at the end (thus you only need to specify one number for the chromatic and whole tone scales).
If you do experiment with your own scales or modes, it is probably wise to take a backup copy of Abel's scales.ini file first.