A musical scholar is challenged to find and explore an area different from his colleagues.
During the summer of 1972, Dr. Otto Henry, a musicologist in his third year at East Carolina University, accepts an invitation on the spur of the moment to accompany some old anthropologist friends from Tulane University, to the amazing little Mediterranean island of Malta. His friends have just completed a definitive study of Maltese folk music. However, he is encouraged to find an area of his own. And to stay out of the library!
After a few false starts, Henry accidently discovers the significance of the ubiquitous church bells that ring from their stone towers all day long and part of the night. Bells that celebrate the time of day, the season, religious services, and occasions; bells that, with their individual tones, rhythms, and colors, musically mark off and enhance the times, the days, and the seasons of Maltese life. And then, as it turns out, their passing as well.
Henry’s daily field notes capture the wonder and majesty of these huge bronze implements, some of which have been melted and recast as cannons and then back into bells.
Then there are those who ring the bells, a special lot, sometimes a little apart and distant from ordinary folk, but people who are always glad to help explain their lives and duties to a strange “Inglese” with a beard.