Change ringing is a form of bell ringing in which a set of bells (generally 6 – 12) sounds in changing rhythmic sequences (called “methods”) rather than in tunes. It originated in England in the 17th century and is still primarily practiced in the United Kingdom and former British Colonies. The bells are rung by a group of trained ringers, each of whom rings one bell by pulling on a rope that swings the bell in a 360 degree arc from mouth-upward position to mouth-upward position each time it sounds. Since it takes about 2 seconds for a bell to complete its swing, tune ringing, which requires more frequent note repetition, is not possible on change ringing bells. Rather the bells ring continuously in always changing, non-repeating orders.
Change ringing sounds very different from the type of ringing most Americans are used to hearing – tunes played on chimes or carillons (pronounced car-a-lon). With chimes and carillons, the bells are fixed and are struck by mechanical hammers. They may be rung by a single individual who plays the bells from a console or keyboard to which the hammers are connected. Some chimes have been automated and don’t even need a person to play them.
Here are several additional resources if you are interested in learning more about change ringing:
North American Guild of Change Ringers
Wikipedia Change Ringing Entry
MIT Guild of Bellringers on Change Ringing