Choosing tower bells or handbells
Abel lets you choose whether the bells it rings look and sound like tower bells or handbells. There are a number of aspects to choosing tower or handbell settings: you can choose the style of picture that Abel displays; the sounds that Abel makes when bells ring; appropriate ringing speeds, and the pitch of the bells. Abel comes with standard option files for both tower bells and handbells; you can modify these, or add extra option files: see Options and Settings.
Abel comes with several alternative sets of bell pictures, for both handbells and tower bells; and it comes with both handbell and tower bell sound recordings. Abel also lets you define your own bell pictures, if you have a graphics editor, and it lets you use your own bell recordings or connect your computer to a MIDI device such as an electronic keyboard. This can be useful if you have a sophisticated sampling keyboard that makes it easy to record your own bells.
If you're ringing from the PC keyboard, the normal action is that a bell sounds each time you press (and immediately release) one of the bell keys (eg, 'j'). If you've selected moving ringer or moving ropes graphics, you may want to turn on User Starts Bell Movement in the Ringing menu, then press the J key when you want the rope movement to start rather than when you want the bell to sound - though it is extremely difficult to get good striking, and ropesight in methods is very difficult indeed, without a rope to pull! If you want to try using the J key to start the bell movement, you may also want to turn on Highlight Bell To Follow in the View menu.
If you're practising handbell ringing, you may like to use "key up/down action", which simulates the up-for-handstroke, down-for-backstroke action of handbell ringing.
Choosing picture styles
You choose the pictures that Abel displays to represent bells from the Screen/Print Options dialog. Click on the Options menu item and then on Screen/Print Options. This dialog has a drop down list that allows you to choose which pictures of bells are displayed. Several options come with Abel, and you can define your own if you want to (see Defining your own bell pictures to find out how). Choose the option you want from the list and click OK. The selected pictures are displayed immediately, even if Abel is ringing at the time.
Some of the pictures flip between handstroke and backstroke views as you ring; others move smoothly between them. If you're ringing from the keyboard and practising handbells, one of the sets of moving handbell pictures may be best. Practising tower bells from the keyboard with the Moving Ringer or Moving Ropes, you can choose whether the key starts the movement (so you can practise ropesight), or rings the bell immediately. Use the Ringing menu, User Starts Bell Movement to control this. Note, though, that practising rope sight from the keyboard is much harder than ringing with a real tower bell! If you want to try using the key to start bell movement, you may also want to turn on Highlight Bell To Follow in the View menu.
If you are ringing a single bell, simulating tower bell ringing, you will probably want to have the blue line display show the line for only that bell (and the treble). If you are ringing a pair of bells, simulating handbell ringing, you'll probably want Abel to show the lines of both bells in the blue ine display. If you like, you can choose to have the bell circle ring anticlockwise. You choose all these settings on the Screen/Print Options dialog too.
Choosing sound styles
You choose the style of bell sound that Abel uses from the Sound Options dialog. Click on the Options menu item and then on Sound Options. This dialog has a drop-down list that allows you to choose from the sound styles that Abel knows about. Choose the option you want from the list and click OK or Apply. The selected sounds are used immediately, even if Abel is ringing at the time. For some tower bell sounds the option tells you the original key of the bells (eg, Worcester Cathedral in B) ; you may want to set Abel's bell pitch to match, see below.
You can add your own bell recordings if you want to: see Defining your own bell sounds to find out how.
The Sound Options dialog also allows you to choose the pitch of the tenor bell for each method stage (i.e. number of bells ringing). Use the up and down arrows next to "Number of bells" to display the number of bells you want to change, and then use the up and down arrows next to "Tenor Pitch" to change the tenor pitch. This is shown as a note value, where "C" is middle-C, "c" is one octave above middle C, and "A" is the A below middle C.
An alternative way of changing the tenor pitch is to choose your bell style, then start the bells ringing rounds on the number of bells you are interested in. Then use the "<" and ">" keys to adjust the pitch until you have got the sound how you want it. Once you are happy with the sound, you can save the options so that Abel uses these values next time you run it.
You can have a different tenor pitch for each number of bells that Abel can ring, from 3 to 24.
In the Sound Options dialog, you can also choose a different musical scale to use when ringing. This lets you simulate (say) the front 6 of an 8 or to experiment with unusual settings such as pentatonic ringing or any of the old ecclesiastical church modes. See Sound Options, Using MIDI in Abel and Musical Scales and Modes.
This dialog is also where you can configure MIDI support if you want to use a MIDI device instead of Abel's own bell sounds.
Setting Ringing Speed
Abel adjusts its ringing speed depending on the number of bells ringing. You can set the speed at which Abel is to ring by clicking on the Options menu item and then on Ringing Options. Use the up and down arrows next to "Number of bells" to display the number of bells for which you want to set the speed, and then use the up and down arrows next to "Peal Time" to change the speed.
Alternatively, if you just want to change the ringing speed for the number of bells currently ringing you can use the k (kwicker!) and d (slow Down) keyboard keys. Or use the control in the left hand window: either use the up/down arrows, as described above, or type in a new peal time or number of changes per minute.
Saving your options
Once you have set up your bell pictures and sounds as you want them, you can save them in an options file: see Options and Settings for further details.