Thinking allowed

Looking at Cambridge Surprise (again)

I’ve been ringing Cam­bridge Sur­prise for quite a few years now. I began with Minor (in 2005), learn­ing the vari­ous pieces of work by rote. Then when I could do that I moved on to Major (in 2006), again, learn­ing by rote the bits that were dif­fer­ent from Minor. Then I got to the point that I could barely remem­ber how to ring Minor, because I always for­got which bits of Major to leave out. I’ve got over that too, and recently have begun to ring Minor a bit more, because we have ringers who have moved on to learn­ing it.

All of which sparked an interest in learn­ing Cam­bridge Sur­prise Roy­al, i.e. on 10 bells. (Ringing it would be a rather dif­fer­ent mat­ter as I’m not a ten-bell ringer, and although I have rung Caters a hand­ful of times, I’ve nev­er rung Roy­al. But I want to stick with the the­ory for a bit.)

So I looked up the blue line for Cam­bridge Sur­prise Roy­al, and in search­ing for it I came instead across descrip­tions of Cam­bridge, and I real­ized I had been miss­ing some­thing about Cam­bridge all these years. The sort of thing that makes me won­der wheth­er I could have learnt the meth­od in a much bet­ter way — rather than learn­ing sec­tions by rote, and then re-learn­ing it by place bells, instead learn­ing it and ringing it from first prin­ciples. Because the prin­ciple behind Cam­bridge, on any num­ber of bells, is quite simple.

Here it is:

  • the treble always treble-bob hunts from the front, out to the back where it lies behind and then treble-bob hunts down to the front again; and it does this over and over again, (n‑1) times in a plain course, where n is the num­ber of bells (6 for Minor, 8 for Major, 10 for Roy­al, etc).
  • each of the oth­er bells also treble-bob hunts, but it does so “out of phase” with the treble. This means that whenev­er it meets the treble, it must change its pat­tern of treble-bob hunt­ing to fit around the treble.

What do we mean by treble-bob hunt­ing “out of phase”, and what are the con­sequences of this?


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