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Jeff A. Arbogast





Joined: 16 Oct 2008

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PostPosted: Wed 28 Apr, 2010 4:46 pm    Post subject: The ring of a sword         Reply with quote

This may seem like a dumb question, but I really am curious about it. How does one explain the particular ring of a sword when struck? Is it the steel, the shape, the "harmonic balance" or some combination? I can tap my Albion Norman or Knight on anything from another sword to my knee, and it gives a clear, bell-like ring. Others, like wall-hangars, give a dull clank, like any piece of metal would. I would assume that the quality and/or design makes the difference. Am I wrong? You can notice this in lots of medieval movies too, old and new. One that actually didn't sound too bad to me was "El Cid," when the Cid (Heston) was fighting the potbellied "Champion of Castile" for insulting his father. Some of the strikes gave a loud, ringing sound that I rather enjoyed, mixed in with a few duller sounds along the way. But not bad overall, especially for the time. It made the whole fight scene far more enjoyable to me. But in, say, "Kingdom of Heaven," when Balian is practicing with his father, the strikes sounded downright dull. Now I know they are fighting with blunted swords, but personally, I think a high pitched clanging would be a lot more appealing to me, reflecting perhaps quality blades rather than plain old hollywood props. That could have easily been dubbed in. Just one of many gripes I have with that movie. Maybe I'm expecting too much? No, actually I'm not. If they could do so much better a job of it in "El Cid" way back when, why not in a modern movie? I suppose they just can't be bothered, figuring no one would notice. But it sure bothers me, just like the "SHHHHIIINNNNGG" sounds the swords ALWAYS make when they're withdrawn in EVERY movie, when that actually wasn't the case at all, unless you liked really dull swords.
But I digress. If anyone can inform me on this subject, or has ever wondered about it themselves, I'm all ears. I try to imagine what it would be like to see literally THOUSANDS of warriors clashing weapons together in a great heaving battle line of combatants. If the majority of weapons were like my Norman, the clashing and ringing metal would be deafening, at least initially I would think. Any thoughts?

A man's nose is his castle-and his finger is a mighty sword that he may wield UNHINDERED!
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J.D. Crawford




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PostPosted: Wed 28 Apr, 2010 5:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi, some of these issues were discussed here:

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=1488
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Vincent Le Chevalier




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PostPosted: Thu 29 Apr, 2010 1:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Also, here:
http://www.thearma.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=23838

During this discussion I observed that the ringing sound seems to be produced by the quillons and eventually aired by the blade. The necessary conditions would then be:
  • possibility for the blade and quillons to vibrate (temper, shape, construction play a role there, harmonic balance might help too)
  • tight hilt assembly, so that vibrations can go from quillons to blade and blade to quillons without too much dampening
  • a shared primary frequency between blade and quillons, so that the blade can air the sound coming from the quillons

I think that it is that last condition that explains that some sword ring loudly, other less so.

Regards,

--
Vincent
Ensis Sub Caelo
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Thu 29 Apr, 2010 8:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

On dampening: I have observed that the use of epoxy in assembly seems to dampen the ring, even on swords I know to be very tightly assembled. Since epoxy makes a sword's assembly MORE stable, it isn't necessarily true that a sword that doesn't ring is not well assembled. If in doubt, look for signs of epoxy or ask the maker.

Also, given the (to our eyes) extremely ill-fitting cross on some medieval swords, it seems likely that the required pitch or wood fill would have had a similar effect on swords any of us would be delighted to own.

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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J.D. Crawford




Location: Toronto
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PostPosted: Thu 29 Apr, 2010 11:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm not sure if anyone mentioned this detail before, but some Del Tin and Windlass swords, at least older ones I know, have a clear coat on them to inhibit rust. Once this is removed, not surprisingly, the blade has more of a ring to it.
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Jeff A. Arbogast





Joined: 16 Oct 2008

Posts: 180

PostPosted: Thu 29 Apr, 2010 3:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J.D. Crawford wrote:
Hi, some of these issues were discussed here:

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=1488


Thanks. I didn't know this thread was around.

A man's nose is his castle-and his finger is a mighty sword that he may wield UNHINDERED!
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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Fri 30 Apr, 2010 4:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeff A Arbogast wrote
Quote:
But in, say, "Kingdom of Heaven," when Balian is practicing with his father, the strikes sounded downright dull. Now I know they are fighting with blunted swords, but personally, I think a high pitched clanging would be a lot more appealing to me, reflecting perhaps quality blades rather than plain old hollywood props. That could have easily been dubbed in. Just one of many gripes I have with that movie.


The sound of the fight would certainly be dubbed in afterward and so the sound you hear would be a directorial decision to use that type of sound; certainly not the actual sound of the fight you see. I would also be pretty sure that the swords used to fight those scenes would have bamboo blades and if not bamboo, then aluminium, but absolutely not steel.

It is generally true that the higher the temper of a piece of metal the better/sustained the ring, so if we assume that most original swords had a lower grade of steel with far more variable properties, even within a single blade than modern equivalents and would often be softer to boot, then I assume that a modern sword will have a more defined ring than an original contemporary.

Tod

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