Thinking allowed

The Structure of Bristol Surprise Major

Some 18 months ago, I described learn­ing Bris­tol Sur­prise Major. I haven’t rung very much of it since then, but I want to look at its struc­ture – what the dif­fer­ent bells are doing and how it fits togeth­er. Because it’s really very simple, and can be described in a few short sentences:

  1. The treble always treble bobs, out to the back, and then back down to the front, over and over again.
  2. The oth­er bells work togeth­er, either as a group on the front four, or as a group on the back four, and from time to time a bell moves from the front group to the back group, or vice versa.
    So far so good, now for the clev­er part:
  3. All the bells in the group that con­tains the treble simply treble-bob inside that group, in phase with the treble, up and down or down and up, until the treble crosses to the oth­er group.
  4. The four bells in the oth­er group (the one without the treble) just plain hunt; and every time the treble (which is in the oth­er group) moves from one dodging pos­i­tion to anoth­er, the four plain-hunt­ing bells switch from hunt­ing “right” (where “lead­ing” and “lying” are made at hand and back) to hunt­ing “wrong” (where “lead­ing” and “lying” are made at back and hand) or vice versa. See below for an explan­a­tion of mov­ing from one dodging pos­i­tion to anoth­er and of “lead­ing” and “lying”.
  5. There are three occa­sions when a bell, oth­er than the treble, passes from one group to the other. 
    1. When the treble itself moves from one group to the oth­er, a bell from the oth­er group must move in the oppos­ite direction;
    2. When the treble leads or lies, the two bells that are in 4–5 swap places.

And that’s it. Now you under­stand how Bris­tol Sur­prise Major works.

Before mov­ing on, an explan­a­tion or cla­ri­fic­a­tion of the words mov­ing from one dodging pos­i­tion to anoth­er. The treble dodges 1–2 up, and then moves to dodge 3–4 up, and then to dodge 5–6 up. The four strokes when it is in 3–4 are one dodging pos­i­tion, and the four strokes when it is in 5–6 are the next dodging pos­i­tion. The point at which the treble moves from one dodging pos­i­tion to the next is called a cross-sec­tion.

At the lead-end and the half-lead, the meth­od is sym­met­ric as the treble leads or lies at the back, and so the plain-hunt­ing bells do not change dir­ec­tion. The treble is con­sidered to be in the same dodging pos­i­tion (1–2) all the time that it is dodging 1–2 down, lead­ing, and dodging 1–2 up at the front, and sim­il­arly in the 7–8 dodging pos­i­tion all the time that it is dodging 7–8 up, lying, and dodging 7–8 down at the back. Express­ing that slightly dif­fer­ently, at the front and back, the treble spends eight strokes in the same dodging pos­i­tion: eight strokes in 1–2 (when it is dodging 1–2 down, lead­ing, and dodging 1–2 up); and eight strokes in 7–8 (when it is dodging 7–8 up, lying, and dodging 7–8 down). So when the treble is at the front or the back, the bells that are respect­ively at the back or the front all plain hunt for eight blows before chan­ging dir­ec­tion. We’ll see this more clearly when we trace out the work of each bell.

It’s also worth not­ing that “lead­ing” and “lying” are in quo­ta­tion marks, because this term here includes lead­ing and lying with­in each group of four. So if while plain hunt­ing you are mak­ing two blows in fourth place this is included in “lying” because you are lying at the back of your group of four; and sim­il­arly if while plain hunt­ing you are mak­ing two blows in fifth place this is included in “lead­ing” because you are lead­ing your group of four.

With that intro­duc­tion, we can look at how the bells inter­act with each oth­er and with the treble.



Thinking about Yorkshire and Pudsey Surprise

I looked recently at the under­ly­ing struc­ture of Cam­bridge Sur­prise on any num­ber of bells (6 or more), and now I want to do the same with York­shire and Pud­sey Sur­prise on any num­ber (8 or more, since they are false on 6 bells, though still ringable as Yorkshire/Pudsey Block Delight Minor). This may well not dir­ectly help you to ring these meth­ods, espe­cially if you are just learn­ing them. But under­stand­ing the struc­ture of a meth­od helps you know why you’re doing what you are doing, and what oth­er bells are doing around you.

You might think Pud­sey is a slightly odd choice to include imme­di­ately after Cam­bridge, but there’s a good reas­on why. In many ways it is the com­ple­ment of York­shire: the changes each of these meth­ods make, com­pared with Cam­bridge, are essen­tially identic­al except that they are made in dif­fer­ent places.

The basic idea of York­shire and Pud­sey is sim­il­ar to Cam­bridge: the treble always treble-bob hunts in each dodging pos­i­tion (1–2, 3–4, 5–6, 7–8, etc); and wherever pos­sible the oth­er bells treble-bob hunt, but out of phase with the treble.

(See the art­icle on Cam­bridge struc­ture for a remind­er of what it means to treble-bob hunt either in phase or out of phase with the treble.)

But York­shire and Pud­sey each make one addi­tion­al change to Cam­bridge. In each of them there is one bell that treble-bob hunts in phase with and adja­cent to the treble, and the oth­er bells have to deal with that bell as well as with the treble. The two meth­ods dif­fer only in which bell is in phase with the treble, and there­fore in which places the extra adjust­ments must be made.

In Pud­sey, it is the 3rd-place bell, which treble-bobs up to the back, dodging down with the treble and mak­ing places under the treble at the half-lead, and then dodging up with the treble and back down. Except when dodging with the treble at the back it is always one dodging pos­i­tion high­er than the treble.

In York­shire, con­versely, a bell treble-bobs down to the front, dodges up with the treble and makes 2nds place, and then dodges down with the treble and treble bobs out to the back. This bell treble bobs one dodging pos­i­tion lower than the treble. Where­as in Pud­sey the work begins and ends when the treble is at the front, in York­shire it begins and ends when the treble is at the back, i.e. from the half-lead to the next half lead, and begins as the work of the 5th-place bell, which becomes the 2nd-place bell at the lead-end in the middle of this piece of work.

York­shire     Pud­sey
half-lead end -----5-1 1-3----- lead end
----5-1- -1-3----
-----5-1 1-3-----
----5-1- -1-3----
treble-bobs down to the front ---5-1-- --1-3--- treble-bobs out to the back
--5-1--- ---1-3--
---5-1-- --1-3---
--5-1--- ---1-3--
-5-1---- ----1-3-
5-1----- -----1-3
-5-1---- ----1-3-
5-1----- -----1-3
51------ ------13
15------ ------31
where it dodges with the treble 51------ ------13 where it dodges with the treble
15------ ------31
makes 2nd place over the treble 12------ ------31 makes (n‑1)th place under the treble
21------ ------13
and dodges down with the treble 12------ ------31 and dodges up with the treble
21------ ------13
2-1----- -----1-3
and treble bobs out -2-1---- ----1-3- and treble bobs down
2-1----- -----1-3
-2-1---- ----1-3-
--2-1--- ---1-3--
---2-1-- --1-3---
--2-1--- ---1-3--
---2-1-- --1-3---
----2-1- -1-3----
-----2-1 1-3-----
----2-1- -1-3----
-----2-1 1-3-----
----2--1 1--3----

These two pieces of work are mir­ror images of each other.

Next, let’s con­sider one small but import­ant point. In York­shire, the bell treble-bob­bing in phase with the treble is below the treble. The oth­er bells must change their beha­viour (com­pared with Cam­bridge) whenev­er they meet this bell, and by defin­i­tion that can only hap­pen below the treble, since that’s where this in-phase treble bob­bing hap­pens. Whenev­er a bell is above the treble it behaves in exactly the same fash­ion as it would in Cam­bridge. That’s why York­shire is “Cam­bridge above the treble”.

In Pud­sey, on the oth­er hand, the bell treble-bob­bing in-phase with the treble is above the treble. The oth­er bells must adjust their beha­viour when they meet this bell above the treble, so the changes from Cam­bridge occur above the treble, but below the treble Pud­sey is the same as Cambridge.

Now let’s turn to the oth­er bells. They are try­ing to treble-bob out of phase, so when they encounter these two bells (the treble and the bell in-phase with the treble) then they must adapt their work.

Because the two bells are in adja­cent pos­i­tions, we will dodge with one and plain hunt past the oth­er, though which of these comes first depends on where we meet them. And in addi­tion, we must also make places adja­cent to the dodge to switch phase.

There are two possibilities.

We can either plain hunt past a bell, dodge with the oth­er, and then make places and (now back out of phase) dodge again. Or else we do the oppos­ite of this: after dodging out of phase, we make places to get in phase, dodge with one of the in-phase bells and then plain hunt past the other.

Which we do depends on wheth­er we have already dodged when we meet the first of the two bells.

If we meet the first of the two bells after we have dodged, then they have not yet dodged, so we must make places to wait for them, dodge, and then pass through the next dodging pos­i­tion to get back out of phase, and then resume out-of-phase treble bob­bing. (In the fol­low­ing dia­grams the treble and the in-phase bell are labelled p and q; in Pud­sey p is the treble and q the in-phase bell; in York­shire p is the in-phase bell and q is the treble.)

when going down
to the front
when going out
to the back
p-q--x-- --x--p-q
-p-qx--- ---xp-q-
p-q-x--- ---x-p-q
-p-q-x-- --x-p-q-
--p-qx-- --xp-q--
---pxq-- --pxq---
--p-qx-- --xp-q--
---pxq-- --pxq---
---xp-q- -p-qx---
--x--p-q p-q--x--
-x--p-q- -p-q--x-
x----p-q p-q----x
-x----pq pq----x-
x-----qp qp-----x
Altern­at­ively, if we meet the two bells before we have dodged, then they have already dodged and one of them is about to come into our cur­rent pos­i­tion so we must miss a dodge and go straight on to dodge with the oth­er one, and hav­ing done so, make places to get back out of phase and resume out-of-phase treble-bobbing:
p-q--x-- --x--p-q
-p-qx--- ---xp-q-
--pxq--- ---pxq--
--xp-q-- --p-qx--
--pxq--- ---pxq--
--xp-q-- --p-qx--
--x-p-q- -p-q-x--
---x-p-q p-q-x---
---xp-q- -p-qx---
--x--p-q p-q--x--
---x--pq pq--x---
--x---qp qp---x--

There’s one more detail before we have enough inform­a­tion to under­stand each of these meth­ods. If we are about to meet the treble or in-phase bell at the back, when we are in the top­most dodging pos­i­tion, then rather than miss­ing a dodge or mak­ing places to get in phase we add an extra dodge. We’ve already seen this in Cam­bridge when we were about to meet the treble and we were at the back. York­shire here is identic­al to Cam­bridge (because we are above the treble), but in Pud­sey this also applies when meet­ing the in-phase bell, so we must do these double dodges when about to meet that bell. And because the meth­od is sym­met­ric­al, when we said “about to meet”, the same applies when “reach­ing the back hav­ing just met”, as it does in Cambridge.

In the full art­icle, we’ll look at the details of York­shire, then at Pud­sey, and then do a final com­par­is­on of the two methods.



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?


1 Comment

learning London Surprise Major

Hav­ing more or less suc­cess­fully rung a Plain course of Bris­tol Sur­prise Major last week­end, it’s time — like Dick Whit­ting­ton — to turn to Lon­don: Lon­don Sur­prise Major, that is. Lon­don is the last of the “stand­ard eight” Sur­prise Major meth­ods, and Cole­man describes it as the zenith of stand­ard sur­prise. But he also sug­gests that it is easi­er to learn than Bris­tol, and strongly recom­mends learn­ing it by place bells. Oth­er Lon­don web pages seem to agree, one sug­gest­ing learn­ing pairs of place bells togeth­er, as in each pair one is the mir­ror of the other.

The order of the place bells is the same as for Rut­land and Bris­tol: 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 6, 4; with the pairs being: 2 and 4, 3 and 6, and 5 and 8; while 7 is sym­met­ric about the half-lead end.

There are a few famil­i­ar pieces of work:

  • Sted­man whole turn, which occurs only on the front
  • fish­tails, which occur at the back (8–7‑8), and also both ways in 5–6 — 6–5‑6 and 5–6‑5
  • plain hunt­ing below the treble — but plain hunt­ing “wrong”, i.e., lead­ing with back­stroke then hand­stroke (“back and hand”) rather than hand­stroke then back­stroke (“hand and back”)
  • treble-bob hunt­ing above the treble, some­times “right” and some­times “wrong”

When you meet, or are about to meet, the treble you have to get back into phase with it, either to pass it, or to dodge with it. You do this by mak­ing a place, or by doing a Sted­man whole turn, or doing fishtails.

Anoth­er point to note is that the 4th-place bell and above all start in the oppos­ite dir­ec­tion com­pared with most meth­ods learned so far. So even bells (≥4) go out, and odd bells (>4) go in. The 8th-place bell strikes an extra blow at hand­stroke in 8th place before going down.

Oth­er than that it seems that the only way to learn this is by place bells, which we do in the full article.


1 Comment

Bristol Surprise Major: the plain course and bobs

Armed with a con­tinu­ous blue line, as described in the pre­vi­ous post, we can write this more com­pactly as a single lead:


We can also write out what hap­pens when “bob” is called. The front two bells are unaf­fected, and run in and out as in a plain course to become the 2nd and 3rd place bells. The bell in 4th place, which would have run out to 5th and become the 5th place bell, instead makes the 4th-place bob and becomes the 4th place bell. The bells above 4th place each dodge back one place, which brings them back to their start­ing pos­i­tions, so that they simply repeat the same lead as they have just done. Like this:

21345678 bob

The bob per­mutes the 2nd, 3rd and 4th place bells. If called at the end of each of the first three leads this will bring the touch back to rounds – three leads of Bristol.

1 Comment

learning Bristol Surprise Major

It’s been a long time since I wrote here about learn­ing a Sur­prise Major meth­od. In the inter­ven­ing peri­od I’ve learnt to ring six such meth­ods: Cam­bridge, York­shire, Lin­colnshire, Super­lat­ive, Rut­land and Pud­sey. These are six of the so-called “Stand­ard Eight” Sur­prise Major meth­ods, and in many ways they are quite sim­il­ar to each oth­er — York­shire, Lin­colnshire, Super­lat­ive and Rut­land are all the same as Cam­bridge when you are above the treble [edit: this isn’t true of Super­lat­ive], and Pud­sey is the same as Cam­bridge when you are below the treble. The oth­er two SM meth­ods in this Eight are Bris­tol and Lon­don and they are dif­fer­ent from the oth­ers, and from each oth­er. Sev­er­al times I have sat down to learn Bris­tol, but not got very far. Time to put that right.

So I’ve spent an hour or so look­ing at the “blue line” for Bris­tol, as well as a couple of guides. From it I can see that:

  • Bris­tol is a double meth­od, so that once you have learnt a quarter of it you should know all of it
  • There are basic­ally three or four pieces of work that you need to learn in that quarter; I call these: 
    • the “front­work”, though you also do this at the back
    • “Sted­man” and “fish­tails”
    • “light­ning work”

I’ll look at each of these in turn.

First we’ll look at fish­tails. These are single blows where you reverse dir­ec­tion after each blow, so on the front it might be: lead, 2nd, lead, 2nd, lead:


Next, the front­work. Bell 2’s work con­sists of doing half the front­work one way, and then mir­ror­ing it to do it the oth­er way:

  • dodge 1–2 down with the treble
  • lead right
  • fish­tails
  • lead wrong
  • out to point 4ths
  • lead right

and then do the same thing in the oppos­ite direction:

  • out to point 4ths
  • lead wrong
  • fish­tails
  • lead right
  • dodge 1–2 up with the treble

(And then, instead of mak­ing 2nd place over the treble, go out to 3rd place and become the 3rds place bell.)

Then there’s “Sted­man”. This is like a whole turn in Sted­man: lead two blows, point 2nd, lead two blows. As in Sted­man, one of the pairs of lead­ing will be right (i.e. hand­stroke fol­lowed by back­stroke), and one will be wrong (i.e. back­stroke fol­lowed by hand­stroke). But in Bris­tol this doesn’t just occur on the front. It’s also done in 4ths — 4th, 4th, 3rd, 4th, 4th. And because Bris­tol is a double meth­od it appears at the back (8th, 8th, 7th, 8th, 8th) and in 5th place (5th, 5th, 6th, 5th, 5th). Each of these pieces of work occur twice, once with the first two blows right and the last two wrong, and once with the first two wrong and the last two right.

Armed with this inform­a­tion we can write out what bell 3 does:

  • dodge 3–4 up
  • 4th place
  • dodge 3–4 down with the treble
  • an extra blow in 3rd place
  • Sted­man on the front
  • out to 4th place
  • Sted­man in 4th place (4th, 4th, 3rd, 4th, 4th)
  • plain hunt down to …
  • fish­tails on the front (2nd, lead, 2nd, lead, 2nd and out)
  • dodge 3–4 up
  • out to 5th and become 5ths place bell

We’re nearly there, and all that remains to do is to look at the “light­ning work”:

  • hunt out to the back
  • one blow only at the back, then turn around and
  • hunt down with
  • two blows in 5th place
  • two blows in 4th place
  • down to the lead
  • one blow only in the lead, then turn around and
  • hunt up to 6th place

This path crosses the treble as it does the places in 4th and 5th:


That cross­ing point is also one of the pivot points of the meth­od, i.e. the point where you move from doing things on the front to doing things on the back, or where the blue line rotates through 180 degrees.

Bell 5 begins with the light­ning work as described above (the first three blows in the dia­gram are of course the last three blows of bell 3’s work).

After this point we repeat the work already described, but as places from the back, rather than places from the front. This enables us to write out a com­plete plain course, as is shown in the full article.



Julie McDonnell Triples

Close watch­ers of the ringing ‘scene’ — or of Songs of Praise — will be aware that there is cur­rently a sig­ni­fic­ant fun­drais­ing exer­cise under­way, rais­ing mil­lions of pounds to fight leuk­emia — by ringing bells.

The cam­paign was begun by Julie McDon­nell, her­self a sur­viv­or and suf­fer­er from the dis­ease, and also a ringer. She set up a cam­paign called Strike Back Against Blood Can­cer and per­suaded some gen­er­ous spon­sors to donate money to the cam­paign whenev­er a quarter peal of the new meth­od (or meth­ods) is rung. The new meth­od is fit­tingly called “Julie McDon­nell” and exists for vari­ous num­bers of bells.

Last night at anoth­er tower’s prac­tice the tower cap­tain said she’d like to ring a quarter peal of Julie McDon­nell Triples at some point, and poin­ted to a blue line of the meth­od drawn on the tower white­board. After we had looked at it for a few minutes some of us had a go at ringing a plain course, which we did susc­cess­fully at the first attempt.

It’s a fairly simple meth­od, with “front­work” done by the 4 and the 2, and “back­work” done by the oth­er bells; and 3–4 dodges to trans­ition between “front­work” and “back­work”

Start­ing on the 4 do the “front­work” dodge 1–2 down, lead, make 2nds; dodge 1–2 down lead, make seconds, becom­ing the 2. Hav­ing made 2nds and become the 2, it’s lead, dodge 1–2 up, make 2nds, lead, dodge 1–2 up and out, dodging 3–4 up and becom­ing the 3. Or to sum­mar­ize the “front­work” slightly dif­fer­ently: (dodge 3–4 down), dodge down, lead, 2nds, dodge down, lead, 2nds, lead, dodge up, 2nds, lead, dodge up; (and dodge 3–4 up).

The “back­work” start­ing from the 3 is: lie, make 3rds, lie, make 3rds, lie, make 5ths, lie make 3rds, lie, make 3rds, lie, dodge 3–4 down becom­ing the 4. Or, tak­ing the lying and all the inter­ven­ing plain hunt­ing as impli­cit: 3rds, 3rds, 5ths, 3rds, 3rds.

The starts are:
2: in the middle of the frontwork
3: at the start of the backwork
4: at the start of the frontwork
5: has just made 5ths in the middle of the back­work; lie, 3rds, lie, become the 6
6: has nearly fin­ished the back­work, so down to 3rds, lie, then dodge 3–4 down 
7: has just done the first lot of 3rds; so lie one blow in 7ths, then 3rds, then 5ths

Bobs are the same as plain bob: 
About to make 2nds: run out and become the 3 so begin the backwork
About to dodge 3–4 down: run in and become the 2, so lead and do the second half of the frontwork
About to dodge 3–4 up: make 4ths place and become the 4, so turn round and entirely repeat the frontwork.

1 Comment

singles in Stedman Doubles

On a good prac­tice night we have enough ringers able to ring Sted­man Doubles, and we are gradu­ally get­ting bet­ter at it, and more people are able to cope with singles so that we can ring an extent of 120 changes, rather than just a plain course of 60.

Singles in Sted­man Doubles seem to cause quite a bit of con­fu­sion. They also have a num­ber of nick­names or mne­mon­ics which aim to remind the ringer what to do. A com­mon pair of nick­names is “cat’s ears” and “coath­angers”, refer­ring to the actions taken by the two bells affected by the call. I could nev­er get used to these, espe­cially “coath­angers” and worked out my own way of deal­ing with singles.

The first thing to remem­ber is that Sted­man con­sists of three bells on the front which plain hunt for six blows, and then change dir­ec­tion, togeth­er with pairs of bells above third place which double dodge out to the back and then back down to the front again. In Sted­man Doubles the only double dodging is in 4–5 up and 4–5 down. And the import­ant thing to remem­ber is that a single affects only the pair of bells double-dodging in 4–5 up and down. The three bells on the front are entirely unaf­fected by the call.

The effect of a single is to swap two bells over, and in Sted­man Doubles it swaps over the two bells that are double-dodging 4–5 up and down. That’s really all you need to know. The ringer who star­ted out think­ing that they were going to double-dodge 4–5 up has to turn around swap places with the ringer who star­ted out think­ing they were going to double-dodge 4–5 down. And vice-versa.

Or to put that anoth­er way, if you are double-dodging 4–5 up and a single is called then you become the bell double-dodging 4–5 down. And if you are the bell double-dodging 4–5 down then you become the bell double-dodging 4–5 up. (Of course in both cases the double-dodges up and down are not really double-dodges because they are incom­plete, but we can gloss over that complexity.)

What does this mean in prac­tice? Let’s con­sider, first, the bell that would, if there were no single, double-dodge 4–5 up. The ringer will count their place some­thing like this:

  • fourth, fifth, fourth, fifth, fourth, fifth

and then they will lie at the back and double dodge 4–5 down.

Mean­while the ringer who would be double-dodging 4–5 down with them will count their place some­thing like this:

  • fifth, fourth, fifth, fourth, fifth, fourth

and then go down to the front, either as a quick bell or a slow bell.

The effect of the single is to swap the two bells over at the fourth stroke (a hand­stroke) of these six changes, so that the bell that starts dodging up ends up dodging down:

  • fourth, fifth, fourth, fourth, fifth, fourth

This bells is now dodging down, so it must next go down to the front.

Mean­while the bell that starts dodging down ends up dodging up

  • fifth, fourth, fifth, fifth, fourth, fifth

This bell is now dodging up, so it must lie in 5th place and double-dodge down before join­ing the front work, either as quick bell or as slow.

As for wheth­er you go in quick or slow: if you are affected by one single (or by an odd num­ber of singles) then you do the oppos­ite of what you would oth­er­wise have done. If you came out quick and would have gone in slow, then after a single you go in quick. Or if you came out slow and would have gone in quick, then instead you go in slow. (That’s because you have swapped places with the the oth­er bell, and it becomes the bell that does what you would have done, and you become the bell that does what it would have done!)

For me, this is where blue lines explain­ing the single — help­ful though blue lines gen­er­ally are — here just com­plic­ate mat­ters. In this instance I find it easi­er just to switch from ringing one place bell (4th’s place) to ringing anoth­er (5th’s). Or vice versa.

1 Comment

Calling Bob Minor: a different composition

Thanks to Tim Rose’s web­site here is a com­pos­i­tion for a quarter of Bob Minor that looks to be rather easi­er to call than the one I con­sidered before. Tim does a pretty good job of describ­ing the com­pos­i­tion, but for the sake of com­plete­ness and to aid my own under­stand­ing I’ll put it all in my own words.

As in the pre­vi­ous com­pos­i­tion, this quarter con­sists of a 720 fol­lowed by a 540, mak­ing 1260 changes in total.

First we look at a plain course of Bob Minor. The lead ends (when the treble leads at back­stroke) look like this:

135264 (3 make 2nd’s, 5 3–4 up, 2 3–4 down, 6 5–6 up, 4 5–6 down)
156342 (5 make 2nd’s, 6 3–4 up, 3 3–4 down, 4 5–6 up, 2 5–6 down)
164523 (6 make 2nd’s, 4 3–4 up, 5 3–4 down, 2 5–6 up, 3 5–6 down)
142635 (4 make 2nd’s, 2 3–4 up, 6 3–4 down, 3 5–6 up, 5 5–6 down)
123456 (2 make 2nd’s, 3 3–4 up, 4 3–4 down, 5 5–6 up, 6 5–6 down)

This gives us 60 changes in a plain course, but if we call a bob just before it comes back to rounds the last row becomes
142356 bob (4 runs in, 2 runs out, 3 makes the bob, 5 dodges 5–6 up, 6 5–6 down)

If we do this three times, then the lead ends at each of the bobs are:

142356 bob
134256 bob
123456 bob

These bobs are each called when the ten­or is in the ‘home’ pos­i­tion, i.e. dodging 5–6 down. Now we have a touch of three courses or 180 changes.

We can extend each of these courses (each end­ing with the bob at ‘home’) by insert­ing some extra calls that don’t affect the course end. We can do this by adding in a dif­fer­ent fairly simple touch of four calls, that turns each 60 into a 240. Each call is made when the ten­or is dodging 5–6 up, i.e. at ‘wrong’. The four calls are bob, single, bob, single. The ten­or, dodging in 5–6 up at each call, is unaf­fected by any of them, and after these four calls the touch comes back to rounds.

We can write out the lead ends start­ing from rounds thus:

123564 bob ‘wrong’; 5 makes the bob
136245 plain: ten­or dodges 3–4 up
164352 plain: ten­or makes 2nd’s
145623 plain: ten­or dodges 3–4 down
152436 plain: ten­or dodges 5–6 down ‘home’

125364 single ‘wrong’; 5 makes the single

132564 bob ‘wrong’; 5 makes the bob

135264 single ‘wrong’; 5 makes the single

After 240 changes this comes back to rounds, but if a bob is called just before that, then it changes the last row to
142356 bob ‘home’; 5 and 6 unaffected

This is just what the simple touch (3 ‘home’s) did, and sim­il­arly, ringing this three times will then come back into rounds at 3 × 240 changes, i.e. after 720 changes so we have rung the first 720 of the quarter peal, an extent on 6 bells, or every pos­sible combination.

The lead ends after each 240 are:
142356 bob ‘home’
134256 bob ‘home’
123456 bob ‘home’ rounds
These are exactly the same course ends as we got with the simple “three homes” 180 touch.

We can con­tin­ue to ring this pat­tern a fur­ther two times and then we shall have rung anoth­er 480 changes, each end­ing like this:
142356 bob ‘home’
134256 bob ‘home’

That makes 720 + 480 changes, or 1200. We need anoth­er 60 changes to reach 1260 for the quarter peal, and we need to get back to rounds. And that’s exactly what our simple “three homes” touch does – its last course of 60 changes turns 134256 into 123456 with just one bob at the very end. See the lead ends for that simple touch at the start of this art­icle. So we ring the last 60 of that 180, omit­ting the bob-single-bob-single at ‘wrong’ that we used to extend the 60 into a 240.

The quarter peal becomes:
bob ‘wrong’, single ‘wrong’, bob ‘wrong’, single ‘wrong’, bob ‘home’ – repeat 5 times in total
bob ‘home’.

Or to spell it out in more detail:

bob, plain, plain, plain, plain;
single, plain, plain, plain, plain;
bob, plain, plain, plain, plain;
single, plain, plain, plain, bob;
repeat all the above 5 times in total, then fin­ish with
plain, plain, plain, plain, bob.

Sev­er­al oth­er fea­tures make this easy for the learn­ing band:

  • The ten­or rings plain courses through­out, unaf­fected by the calls which always occur when it is in 5–6 up or 5–6 down.
  • The 5 makes 3rd’s at every single; no oth­er bell needs to worry about mak­ing the single; this is very help­ful if not all the band are fully con­fid­ent about singles
  • The 5 also makes 4th’s at every bob at ‘wrong’, and dodges 5–6 up with the ten­or at every bob at ‘home’
  • Oth­er­wise the calls per­mute the 2, 3, and 4. In each 240 one of them will be unaf­fected, dodging 5–6 down with the ten­or at every call: in the first 240 this is the 4, in the second the 3 and in the third the 2. The fourth is the same as the first, so the 4 is unaf­fected, and the fifth is the same as the second, so the 3 is.
  • When there is a bob at ‘home’ at the end of each 240, it comes one lead earli­er than a bob or single would oth­er­wise have been called
  • And then the bob at ‘wrong’ is the very next lead.


Steve Cole­man dis­cusses this QP com­pos­i­tion (and the earli­er one) in his Bob Caller­’s Com­pan­ion (which along with his oth­er ringing books is avail­able here). He sug­gests the oth­er one is the sim­pler. He also makes a couple of inter­est­ing obser­va­tions. First is to call the 540 before rather than after the 720, and to call the 60 at the start of the 540 rather than at the end. The advant­age of this is that the 60 is a com­plete plain course, start­ing from rounds and just as it’s about to come back to rounds there’s a bob, and then the sequence of five 240s begins. So the vari­ation in the com­pos­i­tion is at the start – and if any­thing goes wrong you can start again, with a only a few minutes wasted. If this is done, then after that first bob it’s the 3 that is unaf­fected in the first 240, then the 2, then 4, 3, and 2 respect­ively. The com­pos­i­tion comes back to rounds with the bob at ‘home’ at the very end of the fifth 240.

Cole­man also notes that this block of W‑SW-W-SW‑H can be used for a QP of Bob Major. Instead of there being 240 changes in each part (12 changes in each lead, 4×5=20 leads in each part), in Major there are 448 (16 changes per lead, 4×7=28 leads per part), and so ringing it three times is 1344 changes, at which point it comes back to rounds without any­thing else needed and that will suf­fice for a QP. In Major, 6, 7 and 8 are all unaf­fected by all the bobs and singles, ringing plain courses through­out. The 5 front bells do all the same work as they do in Minor, with the addi­tion of hunt­ing to 8th place and back, and dodging 7–8 down and up.


Calling Bob Minor, further thoughts

Anoth­er aspect of call­ing a long touch – let alone a quarter peal – is remem­ber­ing where you’ve got to, and what hap­pens next.

The only long touches I’ve pre­vi­ously called have been quarter peals of bob doubles, where the prob­lem is keep­ing track of call­ing exactly 10 120s, and not los­ing track of how many you have rung so far. For that meth­od I’ve adop­ted the tech­nique of asso­ci­at­ing each suc­cess­ive 120 with a par­tic­u­lar bell, so that you call a 120 asso­ci­ated with the 2, then a 120 asso­ci­ated with the 3, then the 4, then the 5; then anoth­er 120 asso­ci­ated with the 2, then the 3, 4 and 5 in turn; and then yet anoth­er 120 asso­ci­ated with the 2, then the 3 – and then you’ve rung 10 120s.

The advant­age of this aide mem­oire is that while ringing you just have to remem­ber which bell is asso­ci­ated with that 120, and at the end of the 120 you move on to the next bell. And you have to remem­ber wheth­er this is the first sweep, the second, or the last (half-)sweep, but that is very con­sid­er­ably easi­er to do, partly because count­ing to 2 is an awful lot easi­er than count­ing to 10, and also because a look at the clock will give you a pretty clear indic­a­tion of which sweep you’re in. Two fur­ther points about Bob Doubles. First, it is very easy to asso­ci­ate a par­tic­u­lar bell with each 120, because in any 120 a par­tic­u­lar bell will be the obser­va­tion bell, unaf­fected by the calls, and the con­duct­or is focus­sing on that bell and call­ing bobs when it is about to ring 4 blows in 5th place. So it is easy and nat­ur­al to asso­ci­ate a bell with a 120 and to remem­ber which bell it is at any moment. The second point is a foot­note to any­one read­ing this who might be set­ting out to ring a quarter of Bob Doubles: don’t for­get that 10 120s is only 1200 changes and you need to add anoth­er 60 to get to the quarter peal.

So how is this applic­able to quar­ters of Bob Minor, and par­tic­u­larly to the com­pos­i­tion dis­cussed? One idea is to use a sim­il­ar count­ing scheme to keep track of the courses of the com­pos­i­tion. In a 1260 of Bob Minor there are 105 leads of 12 blows each, or 21 courses of 60 blows each. Each course is 5 leads in length and at the end of each the ten­or – which is entirely unaf­fected by all the calls of Bob and Single – returns to its ‘home’ pos­i­tion of dodging 5–6 down. Unfor­tu­nately, and unlike the Bob Doubles count­ing scheme, there is no obvi­ous and easy nat­ur­al asso­ci­ation of a course with a dif­fer­ent bell.

What we have instead is a 720 of 12 courses fol­lowed by a 540 of 9 courses. If we alloc­ate all 6 bells to a course then that is twice through the bells for the 720, and one and a half sweeps through for the 540:

1: bob (wrong), plain, plain, plain, bob (home)
2: bob (wrong), plain, plain, plain, plain
3: bob (wrong), plain, plain, plain, bob (home)
4: bob (wrong), plain, plain, plain, plain
5: bob (wrong), plain, plain, plain, bob (home)
6: bob (wrong), plain, plain, plain, single (home)

1: bob (wrong), plain, plain, plain, bob (home)
2: bob (wrong), plain, plain, plain, plain
3: bob (wrong), plain, plain, plain, bob (home)
4: bob (wrong), plain, plain, plain, plain
5: bob (wrong), plain, plain, plain, bob (home)
6: bob (wrong), plain, plain, plain, single (home) which com­pletes the 720

1: bob (wrong), plain, plain, plain, bob (home)
2: bob (wrong), plain, plain, plain, single (home)
3: plain, plain, plain, plain, single (home)

4: bob (wrong), plain, plain, plain, bob (home)
5: bob (wrong), plain, plain, plain, single (home)
6: plain, plain, plain, plain, single (home)

1: bob (wrong), plain, plain, plain, bob (home)
2: bob (wrong), plain, plain, plain, single (home)
3: plain, plain, plain, plain, single (home) which com­pletes the 540

Does this help at all? I’m going to think about that!