The Bells is a ground for keyboard by the renaissance English composer William Byrd (1543-1523). It utilises one of the smallest grounds found in the genre, an alternating semibreve C and minim D, similar, supposedly, to the tolling of bells.
Byrd adheres to the ground usually strictly, (although sometimes substituting an F for the D). Imitative contrapuntal lines above this minimal ground are in two or three parts and are like the peals of a carillon. The complex counterpoint (necessitated by the demands of keeping the listener's attention over a very short ground) is handled very skillfully, and leads scholars to assign a relatively late date to this work. Damage to part of the only surviving copy between bars 68 and 78 has necessitated recreation by scholars. Resulting problems unfortunately throw the overall rhythmic scheme out, and the recreation is, thus, imperfect.
-- David Cashman, All Music Guide
Select a specific Performer or Label or browse recordings by Formats & Featured below