A quarter of Grandsire Caters

Three years after our last attempt at Grandsire Caters, today I called a quarter in Ringing Room. It took us a little while to get into it (actually it took us a little while even to get started, because we met with seven people of whom two were expecting to ring Little Bob Maximus), but after two or three false starts we rang it quite well.

I called this composition, which is what I have called a few times in the tower. I think I got it from the Ringing World Diary originally.

1259 Grandsire Caters

1 2 3 4 5  23456789
-------------------
-     - -  23456978
        s  63452
s     s    23465
- - -      42365
- - -      34265
-   - -    43265879
- - -      24365
- - -      32465
-   - s    43265978
- - -      24365
- - -      32465
-   - -    23465879
- - -      42365
- - -     (34265)
-------------------

When calling Grandsire Caters or Cinques, it's important to know how long each course is. Usually most of the courses are shorter than a plain course because the bobs advance the observation bells through the circle of work. In this composition, every course is five leads except the second course, which is six leads, and the last course, which is only four leads (the quarter comes round at handstroke a lead before the course end).

I rang 5-6, because after the first couple of courses they are fixed in 5th and 6th places (but reversed) at the course ends. Other options would be 7-8, because the 7th is fixed at the course ends, or the tenors (but another member of the band had requested them). Some people like calling Grandsire from the treble, in the tower, so calling from 1-2 on handbells could be another reasonable option.

The first three courses needed some preparation, especially the second course because it wouldn't be a good idea to count up to five in order to work out when to call the single. Instead I noted that the 6th goes into the hunt at that single, and I also learnt that it does 6-7 up at the s4 in the third course.

After that, the composition settles into a regular and traditional pattern, with the back bells switching between the tittums (course end 978) and handstroke home (course end 879) positions. The courses with bobs at 1,2,3 are all the same for 5-6, and the 1,3,4 and 1,3,s4 courses are the same as each other.

To check that I was getting the calls in the right place, I used a combination of following the work of one of my bells, and listening (because I don't look at the screen much in Ringing Room) to the position of the treble. I managed without any calling errors, although it took quite a lot of concentration. The rest of the band rang well, with no serious mistakes or swaps. All in all, a satisfying performance.

The benefits of ringing with other conductors

I've just rung another quarter in Ringing Room: Cambridge Major, on handbells of course. I tried out a pair of Ben Johnson handbells that I put together at the weekend. They performed well and they're a comfortable weight. Ben's look more like real bells, with a metallic bronze for the bell and a dark brown handle. I used the colours that I have, so the bell looks more like steel, but the handle can be considered similar to a Malmark bell.

The quarter went pretty well. We were hit by delays about a course from the end, which were quite difficult to ride out. We're all getting better at keeping going and recovering, but in this case the ringing had become fairly quick and we needed to slow down, but it was hard to coordinate our slowing down. I was trying to wait for the treble when it was near the front, but I seemed to be seeing delays on the treble itself, which meant that other bells were getting in first. We survived though, with just a rough lead, and the rest of it was good.

The band was myself, Simon Rudd, Marj Winter and Gareth Davies. Marj was using a pair of homemade handbell controllers with the original large Leonardo board, Simon had a pair of Tim Hart printed bells (they both live in East Anglia), I had my Ben Johnson bells, and it was just Gareth using the original ActionXL controllers. Marj, Gareth and I were all using Macs, with my version of Handbell Manager enabling us to use the controllers in Ringing Room. So everyone was using my technology one way or another, as the Tim Hart bells use my software. That was extremely satisfying.

Now to deal with the title of this article, which is ringing with other conductors and indeed other bands. One thing is that I've rung a couple of quarters in which I was the least experienced member of the band (that doesn't happen very often these days) - an example was on Saturday morning, when I rang one of Bristol Royal (after meeting short for Yorkshire Maximus) with Graham John, Graham and Kath Firman, and Lesley Boyle. Another is that just having someone else conducting, and knowing that there's a limit to how much putting right anyone can do during online ringing (because it's harder without the usual visual cues), is rather relaxing. Finally, it's interesting to see which compositions other conductors choose, and I have picked up a couple of callings that I didn't know.

Today was an example of that. Simon Rudd called this composition:

1280 Cambridge Surprise Major

W  B  H  23456
--------------
      -  42356
      -  34256
   -  -  34562
-        63542
   -     34625
-        23645
   -  -  23456
--------------

It's a good handbell composition. 3-4 (which I rang) start with the whole plain course and are then coursing all the way to the end. 5-6 only ring the 5-6 and coursing positions.

While ringing the coursing orders 65432, 43652 and 24365 I noticed something that I haven't spotted before. In methods with Cambridge place bell order, i.e 2 6 7 3 4 8 5, because 3 and 4 are consecutive in the place bell order, the 3 rings what the 4 rang in the previous lead. This is true whenever your pair is in the 3-4 course: one bell follows the other one through the sequence of place bells. This is all very familiar. Now, when there are two handbell pairs both in the coursing position, directly after each other, for example in the coursing order 24365, a further interesting thing happens. Here 4 and 6 are in the 3-4 position, as are 3 and 5. This means that in each lead, 3-4 ring the pair of place bells that 5-6 rang in the previous lead. It's an additional aid to keeping track of what the other pair is doing.

Finally, I think the online ringing is making me a bit calmer as a conductor. Because you usually can't tell the difference between a mistake and a network delay, I am less inclined to try to make a comment the instant I hear something wrong. I hasten to add that in most cases I can't pinpoint who might be wrong, but in live ringing I am very inclined to comment on structural features (dodge above, hunt above, backstroke point, etc) as soon as something goes wrong. Often it's better to wait and let the ringing correct itself. I am noticing that Graham John is an amazingly calm conductor - a good example for anyone to follow.

And now for something completely different

There have been some posts on Facebook recently about ringing-themed designs for fabric, ordered from www.printmepretty.co.uk. You can upload a basic square design and get it printed onto fabric, repeated in a checkerboard pattern (or a few variations).

I decided it would be fun to try this with the bell-cross design from the cover of Change-Ringing on Handbells. Dorothy has been getting interested in sewing, and one of her friends has been making face masks, so there are all sorts of possibilities. You can even order tea-towels.

On the right is the bell-cross pattern rotated slightly with respect to the way it appears on the book cover.

In the slightly rotated form on the book cover, it was not completely obvious whether it could be produced by repeating a basic square. It's probably a bit clearer now. While investigating, I remembered about the 17 wallpaper patterns: these are the different symmetries that a repeating pattern in the plane can have. They are classified by group theory, the branch of mathematics that also underlies the theory of permutations and therefore of change-ringing.

It turns out that the bell-cross pattern has a symmetry called p4. As well as translational symmetry in two directions, it has several rotational symmetries which are the basis for its classification within the 17 wallpaper groups. In the diagram on the right, the red points and the blue points are centres of order 4 rotational symmetry. The p4 pattern also has order 2 rotational symmetry, and it took me a little longer to see that the centres of these symmetries are the black points.

To generate the pattern by tiling a basic square, you can use either four red points or four blue points as the corners of the square. I did it with the red points to get this square:

I've ordered sample pieces of fabric with the design at two different sizes. Let's see how they come out. 

Another quarter of Lincolnshire Royal

It's Lincolnshire week! Yesterday I attempted a quarter of Lincolnshire Royal in Ringing Room, with Mike Purday, Simon Rudd, Simon Humphrey and Alban Forster. It was going really well until just before the end of the second course, when we were hit by such severe delays that we had to stop. Delays in Ringing Room are different from Handbell Stadium - when it gets really bad there can be pauses of a couple of seconds, after which all the bells pile up in a great rush. It's very difficult to keep going. In Handbell Stadium, delays seem to get spread out through the change more.

Encouraged by the attempt, we met again this afternoon, and succeeded with a nice quarter in 44 minutes - under 3 hour peal speed. We managed to build up quite a good rhythm for most of it.

Mike Purday called a composition that I don't think I've rung before.

1282 Lincolnshire Surprise Royal

W  H  23456
------------
   2  34256
s  s  52436
s    (32456)
------------

I rang 5-6 and it was nice: two and a half courses of 5-6 position, then a course of 3-4 position. 3-4 get the 3-4 and coursing positions, with half a course of 7-8 position towards the end.

I was briefly confused by one of Mike's conducting comments. When approaching the lead end 1089674523 a little bit of confirmation was needed, and he said "one ten lead end". For a moment I thought he was giving an instruction to plain hunt instead of dodging (i.e. ring place notation 10). To announce that particular lead end, I usually say "handstroke roll-up" or "roll round at handstroke", but everyone has their own style.

We agreed that Lincolnshire is the easiest of the three common right-place surprise royal methods - certainly it's much easier than Yorkshire. Cambridge has the advantage of familiarity, but the structure of Lincolnshire is easy to follow.

Back on track

Yesterday we rang a quarter of Lincolnshire Royal, which is what we had been planning to ring way back on 16th March just before the lockdown started. 18 weeks, feeling like a lifetime ago. We suffered a bit from ringing in a large not-quite-circle - it's definitely more difficult when the bells are not all within easy vision. But generally it held together well.

There's an earlier blog article on Lincolnshire Royal, and I don't have much new to say about it. Also referring to an earlier article, I think we would benefit from developing the ability to think a little bit further ahead, to be more sure of which dodges to do or miss. We're ringing again next week, and I think it would be worth ringing another quarter of Lincolnshire.

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