July's method: Frodsham

Continuing with the monthly methods from the Ringing World Diary, we rang a quarter of Frodsham on 1st July. I have to say that the method isn't very far up our favourites list. It's Bristol above the treble - even more than that, it's completely Bristol until the treble gets above 6th place. On the front there's a far dodge near in 3-4 across the half lead, with an awkward 3rd place below it. There's a wrong 4-pull dodge in 1-2 across the half lead, which requires careful ringing to synchronise with other pieces of work. Overall, it's the kind of method we can ring well if we go carefully and not too fast, but it would take a lot more practice (which it's not going to get) to become really fluent.

The composition was a neat two-part by Don Morrison:

1280 Frodsham Surprise Major
Donald F. Morrison

B  H  23456
-----------
   -  42356
2  -  25634
-----------
2 part.

London and Bristol Royal

We had planned a session with Nick today, as he was going to be passing through central Scotland. It could have been a Cambridge Maximus session, but we didn't manage to find a sixth person, so we decided to work on London and Bristol Royal. We were fairly confident that we would be able to ring a quarter of London, as we have reached the halfway point of a peal a couple of times in the past - and indeed we did ring a quarter at the second attempt (I miscalled the first one). So that's our first publishable performance of London Royal. It still takes a lot of concentration, which was the problem with our peal attempts. Maximum concentration isn't sustainable for a whole peal, so it's a question of practising until we can ring the method with less concentration.

After a short break, we had a go at Bristol. We found it much harder. By practising leads again and again, and restarting at suitable points each time we fired out, we eventually rang every lead of the plain course, just not all joined together. It was a huge advance though. We've gone from never having tried it with this band (Nick and I have rung it in the distant past, but the other three haven't) to seeing that if we practise a bit more we should be able to do it.

Jonathan commented that he found London easier with people than with Abel, but he found Bristol easier with Abel. I think that's because we were all better at ringing London. If the band can basically ring the method, then ringing with the band enables one to benefit from the collective help and comments on the treble's position and so on. But if the whole band is struggling with the method, then it's much more difficult than ringing with the computer.

We're hoping to get Nick back for another session at the end of July. If we all manage to fit in some Abel practice in the meantime, we should have a good chance of ringing a clean plain course. 

Jovium Follow-Up

We rang our quarter of Jovium without difficulty. The method was quite straightforward once we got into it - and the amount of wrong-place work is tiny, just a couple of blows of wrong hunting between the fishtails.

A couple of hours before we started, I finally got around to writing out the lead ends of the composition. It was really very easy to call from 3-4. Here it is again in tabular form:

1344 Jovium Surprise Major
Comp. Elf

I W H  2345678
--------------
- -   (3462785)
-   2  2348765
--------------
2 part.

The two bobs at In are the ones that put the back bells into the 8765 position, and the Wrong goes with the three Homes as a block affecting 2,3,4. In fact the In, Wrong, In are at consecutive leads, so all you have to remember is that the first In is when 2,3,4 are together at the back (the lead end that would be 17856342 without a bob).

The idea of this composition can be adapted for many methods. For example, for Plain Bob, the two Ins are at consecutive leads, and the three bobs on 2,3,4 are all Homes. Of course you need more courses for a quarter of Plain Bob, so you can either call two Ins and six Homes, repeated, or to turn the back bells more often, call two Ins and three Homes, repeated with a single instead of a bob half-way and end.

We managed a plain course in the tower the next day, which was satisfying.

More Turramurra, and on to Jovium

This week we rang another quarter of Turramurra, so that Tina could ring it and Angela could ring inside. Jonathan called it again, but with a different composition. It went well, and the next day we rang a course of it in the tower.

June's method is Jovium, so we had a quick look at it and practised a plain course, in preparation for ringing a quarter tomorrow.

For 12-bell ringers, this is Phobos but without the wrong-place frontwork (there isn't room for it) and with a 2nd place lead end. It's a method of two halves. The backwork has the characteristic Phobos pattern of pairs of fishtails, which are seen here in 2nd, 3rd, 7th and 8th place bells. The frontwork is right-place, treble-bob based with some double dodges. A useful mnemonic seems to be moving from a dodge to a dodge and from a place to a place, which also covers the transition from the back to the 3-4 work in 7th place bell; also note that 3rds and 4ths are made when the treble is in 5-6. We managed to ring it at the second attempt, albeit rather cautiously. The fishtails take a little getting used to, as the ones at the beginning and end of the lead are at the opposite stroke from the ones in London.

According to my computer search, the quarter peal composition of up to 1344 with bobs only and tenors together, with the most 4-bell runs (front or back), is this one, credited to Best1280 (I'm not sure whose program that is) in CompLib:

1312 Jovium Surprise Major
Comp. Best1280

B W M H  23456
--------------
2     -  35642
  -   -  64352
-     -  64523
    - -  35426
  -   3  23456
--------------
98 4-bell runs (47f, 51b)

With split tenors, a nice one is the same composition that we rang for Turramurra, but it produces far more runs for Jovium (106 instead of 83).

1344 Jovium Surprise Major
Comp. Elf

I W H  2345678
--------------
- -   (3462785)
-   2  2348765
--------------
2 part.
106 4-bell runs (50f, 56b)

Note that the calling positions refer to the position of the 5th, which becomes 8th place bell at the half-way point.

I wondered whether it would be possible to use half lead bobs to get the back bells into the 8765 position within a single course, then call three homes. It is possible, with half lead bobs in the third and fifth leads, but it only adds one extra run, so the complication doesn't seem worthwhile.

I also looked into 7-part compositions. The simplest is sB sH, bringing up 13456782 as the part end, but it only has 74 runs, which is nowhere near as good as the two-part above.

This month's ringing

A week ago we had the Scottish Handbell Day, which took place at the Fryes' house in Dunblane because of the building work at Albany Quadrant (which has finished for the moment, I'm happy to say). Some new people came along, including James Holdsworth who has recently moved from Yorkshire to Edinburgh. With his help we were able to ring a couple of plain courses of Cambridge Maximus, fairly convincingly. There's room for some polishing, but it feels as if we can basically ring it, so the next step will be to try a quarter and then go for a peal. Other ringing included plain hunting and Bob Minor with some newcomers, and quarters of Kent and Yorkshire Major.

Last Friday we had a visit from Nick Jones, and rang two quarters. The first was Turramurra, so we've scored May's method of the month. (The peal we had been due to ring in April had to be cancelled). It's a nice method, very easy, and Jonathan called a composition by Rob Lee with a couple of courses of the back bells in the 8765 position. After that we rang 8-spliced (standard 8, with apologies to Project Pickled Egg), which went smoothly even though we haven't rung most of the methods for ages.

Yesterday was the SACR striking competition, which is always a good opportunity for handbell ringing because of all the waiting around. This was mostly Bob Minor with two of the beginners we had been ringing with on the handbell day, and it was satisfying to make some more progress.

The striking competition judge was Glenn Taylor, who has composed some interesting peals of Spliced Surprise Major (as well as other things). There's one of London, Bristol, Cambridge, Superlative and Glasgow, which I rang on handbells with David Brown, Roger Bailey and Mike Trimm in the late 90s. He also has one of the Horton's Four methods in a 2-part all-the-work, but with slightly more split tenors than Roddy Horton's composition. Also a 3-part all-the-work of Bristol, Cambridge, Glasgow and Superlative with just a little bit of split tenors (or not exactly split, but coursing the wrong way around), which could be fun to ring one day. So it was interesting to meet him, and his comments on the team that I rang in were so insightful that it was as if he had been in the tower with us...but that's another story.

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