November 2015

The Cam and Granta Variations of Treble Bob

The Cam and Granta variations of Treble Bob consist of Kent, with leads of Kent Little Bob or Bastow Little Bob when the back bells should be in the slow. What does this mean, and why is it interesting? We will see that it provides an easier way into ringing Kent on handbells, especially on higher numbers.

First we need to explain Kent Little Bob and Bastow Little Bob. In both methods, the treble plain hunts to 2nds place; that is to say, it alternately makes 2nds and leads. In Bastow, the other bells treble bob hunt except that they don't dodge in 1-2. Kent Little Bob is the same except that Kent places are made in 3-4. Here are the lines for Major, taken from www.ringing.org. They are both good methods for getting started with Royal and Maximus.

A course of Cam Variation consists of 3 leads of Kent, until the tenor is 2nds place bell, then 2 leads of Kent Little Bob, while the tenor and the 7th ring 2nds place bell, then 2 leads of Kent until the tenor is 8ths place bell. One way of thinking about this is that the treble goes into the slow instead of the tenors. This makes it possible to ring something that is essentially Kent, with a ringer on 7-8 who is confident treble bob hunting in the coursing position but not so confident ringing the slow work. If the ringer of 1-2 is able to pay attention to which bells are coming onto the front, then there is no need to call the changes of method. Everyone else, including 7-8, rings by the normal rule of making 3-4 places if the treble is below them when they are in 3-4. The ringer of 7-8 knows that the tenors won't go into the slow, and everyone else hardly notices, except that the course is shorter than usual.

Granta is the same idea, but with Bastow instead of Kent Little Bob. I haven't rung it, but I think it would be a little trickier because the rule for dodging or places in 3-4 isn't the same as in Kent.

In either case, the same idea can be used for Royal and Maximus, keeping all the bells from 7 upwards out of the slow.

There is some confusion about which variation is which. This peal report says that Cam uses Bastow, but John Harrison's ringing glossary says that Cam uses Kent Little Bob. The collection of handbell compositions at www.ringing.info includes compositions with inconsistent terminology. Philip Saddleton's list of notable Cambridge University Guild peals says that Cam uses Bastow, but in an email to the ringing-theory list, Philip corrects himself and gives evidence for a definitive answer that Cam uses Kent Little Bob and Granta uses Bastow. 

The original motivation for these variations seems to have been musicality rather than handbell-friendliness. The report of the Central Council meeting of 1921 states:

Mr. Willson asked if the [legitimate methods] committee were a tribunal to decide what a legitimate method was or what a variation of a method was? He did not see how some of these quack variations called Treble Bob could be Treble Bob when the treble was pulled all over the place. Let them call it James’s Mixture if they liked (laughter), but he objected to calling it Treble Bob. ‘The Glossary’ said Treble Bob was the name given to methods with a peculiar path of the treble. In one variation he saw the other week the treble was in the slow, and he objected to any man, whether he was Tom, Dick, Harry or James (laughter), having the right to distort any method and claim the original name for it.

and later in the same report:

The Rev. H. Law James said he had rung a peal of Major and a peal of Royal in the Granta variation, and, while he had made up his mind he was not going to ring another peal of Treble Bob, because of the row in the middle of the course, he was quite willing to ring as many peals of Granta as he could get the chance of ringing. They had music from beginning to end, and, after all, that was what they had to consider.

My interpretation is that the "row" (noise) in the middle of the course refers to the leads in which one of the back bells is in the slow and therefore the treble appears in its place in the roll-ups and in the coursing music. The "legitimate methods committee", of course, is now just called the "methods committee". Another benefit of Cam and Grant Major is that they don't have the falseness of Kent, making it easier to find compositions.

Another extract from the same report, although a diversion from the current blog article, is interesting for its Platonist view of methods and compositions:

Mr. J. A. Trollope, referring to new methods, said there was really no such thing as a new method. They had all been worked out, and nobody had the slightest chance of getting anything that had not been got before. Moreover, there was no such thing as ownership of methods, but if a band wanted to ring a method - it was open to anybody to work out a method independently, although it would not be new - that band was entitled, provided the method had not been previously rung, to call it what they liked, and nobody had a right to challenge it. The only exception to that was, he thought, in the case of the old methods which had been in the standard ringing books. If anybody wished, for instance, to ring a peal of ‘New Bob Major,’ of which a peal had not been rung, they were not entitled to call it by any other name. There was no such thing as making a new method, and no such thing as ownership of a method.

 

Mr. T. Faulkner: What about Stedman?

 

Mr. Trollope said Stedman did not lay claim to the method. He simply gave the result of his investigations - what he had done and what other people had done. The man who composed a song put something into it himself and to some extent, therefore, he was its creator, but the man who composed a peal was not the creator at all, he was simply the discoverer of the result of certain laws.

Now for some compositions. I haven't analysed their musical qualities; I have just selected them from among many similar possibilities produced by my computer, on the basis of how they look and how easy they might be to learn. They are all true to the Granta variation too. I won't claim authorship, because after all they are simply the result of certain laws...

 

1280 Treble Bob Major (Cam Variation)

M W H  23456
------------
2 2 2  52364
2   2  25463
1 2 1  35642
2 1 2  23456
------------

 

5120 Treble Bob Major (Cam Variation)

M W H  23456
------------
2   2  32654
1   1  46253
2   2  64352
  1    56342
------------
5 part. 

 

1264 Treble Bob Royal (Cam Variation)

M W H  23456
------------
  1 2  24536
1   1  65432
------------
2 part.

 

5040 Treble Bob Royal (Cam Variation)

M W H  23456
------------
1 1 1  65432
  2    53462
2   2  35264
------------
5 part. 

 

1272 Treble Bob Maximus (Cam Variation)

W H  23456
----------
2 2  54326
1 2  53246
2 1  23456
----------

 

5040 Treble Bob Maximus (Cam Variation)

M W H  23456
------------
  2    35426
2 2    52364
2 2    26543
2   1  23645
------------
3 part. 

Modest Progress in South Cambs - target for the year achieved

Three of us, my wife Sheila, Sally Mew and I meet on most Wednesdays. We usually ring Plain Bob Minor and have rung many quarter peals over the last couple of years and I have conducted most of them. However, in order to expand our learning and experience I encouraged Sally to conduct this year and she has done so successfully on 5 ocassions. We are trying to move on to other plain minor methods and the target for this year has been Double Bob. Sheila finds change ringing on handbells quite challenging but is very steady when the tenors are together.

We started on Double Bob in the spring (interspersed with a few quarters of Plain) and have managed to ring six courses with tenors together I then decided that we could ring a quarter peal of spliced Plain and Double, only ringing Double Bob when the tenors were in course (standard calling for 720 and 540). This kept Sheila in known territory. We rang our quarter peal on Wednesday 18th November 2015 and it was a very creditable performance being a first of spliced for Sheila and Sally. Double Bob is an interesting simple diversion to Plain Bob and worth ringing. See http://bb.ringingworld.co.uk/view.php?id=980955

We now plan to go back to Plain Bob for the time being, but also to change pairs with Sheila re-visiting the trebles. Once this has been conslidated Single Oxford will be the next target.
 

Handbell Compositions: 5040 Kent Treble Bob Maximus by Simon J Gay

This is the composition we rang for our peal of Kent Maximus last year. It's based on a suggestion by Stuart Bamforth, which we used for a quarter of spliced Kent and Kent Little Bob. The idea is to use bobs in 4th and 6th place to get the back bells into the coursing order TE0987, then ring the bulk of the composition in that position, and finally finish with bobs in 10th and 8th place (and, in this particular composition, 6th and 4th place) to bring it round. The assumption is that keeping the back bells coursing helps with the rhythm; also, it generates "big tittums" music with the back bells sounding in an ascending or descending scale through the change. However, this advantage is offset by the absence of the usual 7890ET roll-ups.

The opening course looks like this, with a 4th place bob as the tenor leaves the slow and a 6th place bob at the next lead. Here are the lead ends all the way up to the course end, although in the actual composition there is a bob at the last lead.

    1234567890ET
    142638507T9E
    1648203T5E79
    18604T2E3957
    108T6E492735
    1T0E89674523
-14 1ET089674523
-16 10E9T8674523
    1908E7T56342
    189705E3T264
    17859302E4T6
    1573829406ET
    135274869T0E
    1234567T8E90

The course end is when 9 and 10 are at the back, as they are the central pair among the back 6 bells. The composition is set out with calling positions Middle, Wrong and Home relative to the position of the 10th. This means that the calls affect the front bells in the standard way. The first bob Wrong takes place at the last lead of the opening course shown above, i.e. the 10th dodges 11-12 up at the Wrong.

M W H  23456
------------
  2 2  54326
1   1  63425
1 2 1  53246
2 2 2  45362
  1 1  36452
2 1 1  35264
1      25463
------------

Notice the course end 45362, which is arrived at by a bob Home. This has the front bells in the coursing order 65432, so combined with the position of the back bells, it gives the "mega-tittums" coursing order TE098765432, which is rung for the whole course up to the next bob Wrong. Another feature of the composition is that 3-4 are always coursing for the main part of the course, from the Middle to the Wrong.

At the last bob in the block, the lead end is 14235T6E7089 and after another 8 leads the tenors get to the back at a lead end. The course end 25463 at the end of the block above is not reached. To finish the composition there is a series of bobs at consecutive leads, made in different places: 10ths, 8ths, 6ths, 4ths, 4ths.

    1675829403ET
-10 1562748390ET
-18 1254637890ET
-16 1423567890ET
-14 1342567890ET
-14 1234567890ET

In this final series of bobs, more and more of the back bells return to their home positions and keep ringing their home lead until the peal comes round.

It's a little awkward to write out the whole composition in a conventional tabular style, but here it is.

5040 Kent TB Maximus
Simon J Gay

O  V  M W H  234567890ET
------------------------
14 16   2 2  543267T8E90
      1   1  63425
      1 2 1  53246
      2 2 2  45362
        1 1  36452
      2 1 1  35264
      1   10 562748390ET
          18 254637890ET
          16 423567890ET
          14 342567890ET
          14 234567890ET
------------------------
14, 16, 18, 10 refer to the place notation of
the bob in the indicated position.

It's a good idea to practise the beginning and the ending before ringing the peal. The following quarter peal composition is based on the same plan, with the addition of an 8th place bob in the opening course to put 5-6 coursing. Only one 4th place bob is needed at the end. The quarter contains 7 leads of the mega-tittums course.

1344 Kent TB Maximus
Simon J Gay

    1234567890ET
    142638507T9E
    1648203T5E79
    18604T2E3957
    108T6E492735
    1T0E89674523
-14 1ET089674523
-16 10E9T8674523
-18 1908E7T64523
    189706E5T342
    17869503E2T4
    1675839204ET
    156372849T0E
    1352647T8E90
    12345T6E7089
-14 14235T6E7089
-14 13425T6E7089
    123T4E506978
    1T2E30495867
    1ET029384756
    10E9T8273645
    1908E7T62534
    189706E5T423
    17869504E3T2
    1675849302ET
-10 1564738290ET
-18 1453627890ET
-16 1342567890ET
-14 1234567890ET

So what's the verdict? I think it was helpful to keep the back bells coursing, and we got used to the non-standard course-ends. I called it from 9-10 so that I would be in the standard positions at the bobs. However, next time we ring a peal of Kent Maximus, we're going to try it in the standard back-bell position. The peal highlighted the need for the slow work to be rung well; it really takes an effort to keep the slow bell hammering away while the other bell treble bob hunts. Obviously there is always someone in the slow (and for 6 leads of the course it's one of the back bells), so unless everyone can do it, there is quite a negative effect on the overall rhythm. 

Double methods and rotational symmetry

Double methods are those in which the frontwork is the backwork upside down. This means that the line of the method has rotational symmetry: it looks the same if rotated by 180 degrees about the point at which it passes the treble in the central position of the change (4-5 in Major). It also means that the grid of half a lead has rotational symmetry, which we can see by looking at Bristol.

Something I realised only recently is that on handbells, you can simultaneously ring half a lead of one place bell and its rotationally symmetric partner. Below are some examples from 23-spliced. Note that although Cray isn't a double method, its half lead grid is rotationally symmetric, and it can be converted into a double method by ringing it with 8ths place at the lead end (giving Norfolk) or 7ths place at the half lead (giving Derwent). The examples are for the first half of the lead, but it is also possible to ring a rotationally symmetric pair in the second half of the lead.  

The trebles can also ring a rotationally symmetric half lead, when the 2nd is the place bell that passes the treble in 4-5, for example 5ths place bell in Bristol.

Furthermore, each handbell position (1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8) has its own rotationally symmetric half lead, and in the plain course, they are all rung simultaneously.

When thinking about symmetry in pairs of place bells, we are more accustomed to noticing when we are ringing two place bells that are the reverse of each other, meaning that the pair crosses at the half lead and then repeats the work backwards. These are generally easy leads to ring, because it's possible to ring the second half by reversing the work of the first half, and crossing at the half lead is a good landmark. Ringing a rotationally symmetric half lead doesn't seem to be so helpful, and in fact some of those leads are the ones that we have found most difficult. I have always found that ringing 4th and 5th place bells in Superlative, or the second half of 2nd and 7th place bells, requires care. In Double Dublin, 2nd and 8th place bells seem very difficult because of the overlap between the fishtail and the whaletail. In Cray, 3rd and 5th place bells have a similar character to 4th and 5th place bells in Superlative, but 2nd and 7th place bells are less of problem because it's only necessary to know that the long dodges overlap by 3, or to start and stop dodging according to the position of the treble.

      

When I wrote about symmetry before, I gave a composition for a quarter of Spliced Surprise Major in which 7-8 always ring symmetrical leads, and another composition in which 5-6 and 7-8 always ring symmetrical leads. The obvious question now is whether we can get a composition of spliced double methods in which 5-6 and 7-8 always ring rotationally symmetrical half leads.

The answer is: almost. It turns out that it's not possible for 7th and 8th place bells to be a rotationally symmetric pair in the first half lead, because that would require 5-6, 3-4 and 1-2 to also be ringing their rotationally symmetric leads. That would require the 2nd to pass the treble in 4-5 in the first half of the lead, which is impossible because it starts by going below the treble.

The composition I have come up with starts with a whole lead of an M group method, in which 5-6 and 7-8 ring their ordinary symmetrical leads. It then continues with 6 other methods, all with different place bell orders, rung half a lead at a time. Each method is rung once in the first half of a lead and once in the second half of a lead. Every half lead has 7ths place made, and every lead end is 8ths place. Strictly speaking this means that the first and second half leads with a particular grid are two different methods, one with 2nds/7ths at the lead end and half lead, and one with 8ths in both places. A further complication is that one of the methods is group A, so its 8ths place lead end version doesn't exist because it would come round after one lead. Anyway, we can consider that the composition contains 6 rotationally symmetric grids, which are rung with the appropriate half lead and lead end places. Unfortunately the M group method can't be a double method, because the half lead would be repeated later.

1344 Spliced Surprise Major (7m)
Simon J Gay

                12345678
------------------------
Hampshire       24356871
Hampshire       14263857
Ashtead         68472531
Maypole         16482735
Lancashire      46283751
Peterborough    18674523
Cambridge Blue  24365871
Superlative -   17856423
Superlative     43527681
Cambridge Blue  15748362
Peterborough    54738261
Lancashire      14537286
Maypole         75846321
Ashtead         13425678
------------------------
Half lead place is always 78, except in Hampshire.
Lead end place is always 18.
- = 16
6 part, calling 1678 instead of - in parts 3 and 6.

5-6 and 7-8 always ring rotationally symmetric half leads,
except in Hampshire where they ring a symmetrical lead.