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?


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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.


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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.

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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.

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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.


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!