The sound of church bells pealing can be evocative of several moods, ranging from cheerful and bright to moody and ominous. Church bell sound effects frequently are used in theatre soundscapes, television and movie soundtracks, and have been overdubbed in popular music on songs such as "Hell's Bells" by AC/DC and "For Whom the Bell Tolls" by Metallica.
Creating your own field recording is an option to capture an authentic sound. If you have the means to do a high-quality audio capture, recording a country church's bell helps reduce ambient sounds. Getting to know staff at the church may allow you to capture the sound of the bell under more controlled conditions, such as a time when no services take place and fewer vehicles may be in the area.
Free Internet Sources
The Freesound Project is a library of sound effects that operates under the Creative Commons Sampling Plus License. A search for "church bell" returns over 300 results. Other free sound-effects libraries include SoundJay and PacDV; many more sites can be found through a simple Internet search. In most cases, you are free to use the sound effects in any way, except for posting them on another web page or claiming them as your own.
Fee-based Internet Sources
Foley libraries such as SoundDogs, Sound Effects Library and SoundSnap provide access to high-quality sound effects on a fee basis. The selection of sounds is extensive, with many variations in duration and background sound. As of May 2011, a site search for "church bell" shows almost 500 sounds in a variety of libraries. Cost per effect is under £6, with most sounds under £3, so libraries of this type may be economical and time-saving, depending on your application.
Software synthesizers are another source for bell-like sounds. General MIDI doesn't include a dedicated church bell sound, but it does include a tubular bell sound at Program Change No. 15 that may be suitable for your project. If you have access to a keyboard synthesizer, check its patches in case it includes a bell sound effect outside of general MIDI specifications.
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