Handbell Compositions: two peals of Bristol Major

The first composition is one I learnt from Roger Bailey and have called a couple of times. It's based on blocks of five befores, in coursing orders with both 3-4 and 5-6 coursing. For example, starting from the coursing order 54326, a block of five befores generates the coursing orders 65432, 26543, 32654 and 43265. In these five courses, 3-4 and 5-6 each ring four courses of coursing and one course in the 5-6 position.

The composition has four of these blocks, based on the coursing orders 54326, 42563, 45623 and 52436. It's easy to remember: the pattern "wrong, two homes, middle" is used twice to link blocks, which is neat. The overall effect is similar to a composition of Stedman Caters, with four blocks linked by turning courses. The only drawback of this style of composition is that after 3-4 or 5-6 have rung a few courses of coursing, it feels a little shocking to be thrown into the 5-6 position. 

5152 Bristol Surprise Major
Roger Bailey

M B W H  23456
1     1  64352
1 5 1 2  32546
1 5   1  65243
  5 1 2  62453
1 5   2  23456

The second composition has been published on BellBoard many times, with peals conducted by its composer, David Maynard. I had noticed it, and thought that it looked more complicated than Roger Bailey's, although it has slightly better properties for handbell ringing. Earlier this year I rang a peal of Bristol with David Maynard's band, and he called this composition; afterwards he explained its construction and I have subsequently called it myself. Once the construction is understood, it's straightforward to call, and the turning courses don't put 3-4 and 5-6 simultaneously into the 5-6 position, which makes life easier.

The composition is also based on blocks of five befores, but in a less obvious way because some of them are nested inside each other. The opening course, two wrongs and home, produces the coursing order 23456, which has 3-4 and 5-6 coursing ready for a block of befores. However, only four befores are called, producing the coursing order 34562. Next, calling wrong and home swaps both 3-4 and 5-6 over, into 43652. Then comes a block of five befores in the usual way, and then another wrong and home to go back to 34562, followed by the fifth before of the first block, returning to 23456.

The next call is a wrong, producing 34256, which is another coursing order with 3-4 and 5-6 coursing. Calling two befores produces 56342, and now the same idea of calling wrong and home to swap 5-6 and 3-4 can be used, giving 65432. After five befores from this coursing order, another wrong and home return to 56342. Now the previous block of befores continues, but with only two bobs, giving 42563. From this point, calling two middles and a single wrong brings it round at the backstroke snap. The full description of the composition on BellBoard explains exactly how much coursing there is for 3-4 and 5-6.

5154 Bristol Surprise Major
David G Maynard

M B W H  23456
    2 1  43526
  4 1 1  63542
  5 1 1  54632
  - 1    24536
  2 1 1  45362
  5 1 1  36452
  2      52643
2   s   (42536)

David has another composition based on the same ideas, which is a lead longer at 5186. It can also be found on BellBoard.

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