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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