|How InspiredCode's ChurchBells Came About|
It would only be fair to start by saying that the
inspiration for the music existed before time began. Jesus Christ our Savior has inspired through the ages the wealth of Hymns and Carols whose melodies are played on these bells. For this reason the hundreds of hours on the music and code in ChurchBells were well spent if even one bell tower will call us to "think on these things".
With that said, I would like to start now where for me is the beginning, which is with my Mother. That's where I started. And long before I knew where she got her ideas about what is good and right, in the face of my whining she would explain: "because it's just good character training!" This is the legacy of a good moral upbringing under the tutelage of a godly Christian woman. She also never ceased from singing on her way about the house, instilling in us a close familiarity with music in song. I grew up singing the great old hymns and carols (since she never let us skip church) and came to love them dearly. The technical complexity of this work is proof that I also caught my Dad's "how does it work" bug, but to a great extent I can blame my love for the music in it on my Mom..
A brief history of the work:
A friend of mine designed a solid state bell tower system intended to replace similar units costing many
thousands of dollars. His cost just a few grand. The only problem was he had no sounds to put in it. One
customer provided some, but they were horribly lame. I said "I don't want people to hate all these great old
hymns. I'll make some good recordings we can use as long as I'm here". So I did. And being devout but not
devoid of common sense I copyrighted the work, knowing that I would find other ways to share it with the
world when I left my friend's company. After all, it had taken hundreds of hours of my own time. I had to
record, modify, synthesize and arrange bell sounds note by note to agree with chords being played. It was
very tedious, but was the only way to achieve harmonious four part bells.
Backtracking a bit, I've been involved with programming in various forms of Basic since the Vic-20 first
came out. Nearly every Engineering job I've had has used my Programming as well as my Electronic Design
skills. When I decided to pursue a certificate in Visual Basic I was surprised to discover how much was there
for me to learn. Having completed that (with an A average) I'm now working on my MCSD. I thought that
it would be good to have a showpiece, something with a versatile user interface sporting multiple screen states
and tending a database of some sort. I immediately thought of ChurchBells.
While heading RE (Reliability Engineering) I saw the devastation storms would wreak upon solid state bell
systems. The customer ended up waiting for weeks and paying hundreds of dollars for servicing, which was
well justified, since those units were toast! I had just bought an old 486 computer for ten bucks at a yard sale
and I put two and two together. If the bell tower were a software solution running on inexpensive hardware,
the user could deploy another inexpensive computer the next day after a lightning strike and have virtually no
down time at all.
Forty-seven hundred lines of code later I had the pleasure of sending my Mother the first software based
church bell tower on CD, playing Hymns and Carols on Harmonious Bells.