January 2016

Handbell Compositions: Lincolnshire Major

As well as our long-established band with Jonathan and Angela, we have been ringing with the "Edinburgh crossover band" involving Mike and Ian. We are trying to get into a routine of a monthly peal attempt. Towards the end of last year we scored a peal of Yorkshire, and in January we rang one of Cambridge. The next step is Lincolnshire in February, so I started giving some thought to compositions.

There are two classic compositions by William Barton, and another by Simon Humphrey.

5088 Lincolnshire Surprise Major
William Barton

23456    B  M  W 
----------------
35426          2     
24653       -  -
45236    -
53624       -  2     
24536       2  -
----------------     
3 part.  
58 CRUs. 6 the extent in 6ths.

 

5088 Lincolnshire Surprise Major
William Barton

23456    B  M  W  H
-------------------   
34256             2  
45623       -  2     
24653       3  -     
24536    -        -
-------------------  
3 part. 
58 CRUs.

 

5376 (5152) Lincolnshire Surprise Major
Simon Humphrey

23456    M  W  H
----------------   
43652    -    [ss] 
24356    2     s  
43526       2  s  
56324    -     s  
23564       -  s
----------------  
3 part.  
84 CRUs. Tittums. For 5152 omit [ss] in one part.

Three-part compositions are good, but for handbells it's nice to have 5-6 fixed at the part end instead of 2-3. The William Barton compositions can be rotated to get this effect, but not the Simon Humphrey composition.

5088 Lincolnshire Surprise Major
William Barton (rotated)

23456    B  M  W 
----------------     
54632       -  -
43526    -
32654       -  2     
42356       2  3
----------------     
3 part.  
60 CRUs.

 

5088 Lincolnshire Surprise Major
William Barton (rotated)

23456    B  M  W  H 
-------------------     
54632       -  -
43526    -        3
32654       -  2     
42356       2  
-------------------     
3 part.  
60 CRUs.

The rotated versions are better for CRUs, if you like that sort of thing, as well as having a part end that's preferable for handbells. The rotations also make it clearer that the two compositions differ only in the position of a block of three bobs: wrongs or homes. The second version is listed in the collection of handbell compositions at www.ringing.info. While checking with a computer search, I found another composition, which isn't in the collection at www.ringing.org; I don't know whether it has been published anywhere else. It has the same musical properties as the other two (99 runs of four or more bells at the front and back, as well as the CRUs) but is a little more complicated, so it doesn't have much to recommend it.

5088 Lincolnshire Surprise Major

23456    B  M  W  H 
-------------------     
54632       -  -
54326    -        -
32546          -  -
24653       -  2     
25346       2  -  -
42356          -
-------------------     
3 part.  
60 CRUs.

Back to Horton's Four

To return to our Horton's Four project, we decided to ring a quarter of each method individually. I have written several articles about handbell-friendly compositions, but Horton's Four is an extreme example of ringing an ordinary composition (actually its difficulty makes it far from ordinary) on handbells, so I decided to abandon all ideas of handbell-friendly quarters and choose compositions on other grounds.

This one of Bristol contains all of the 5678s and half of the 6578s without resorting to long boring sequences of calls in the same position. It's not quite tenors-together, but F/I (fourths and in) just puts the tenors into 3rd and 4th place bells between the two bobs, which is pretty harmless. We rang it quite well.

1280 Bristol Surprise Major
Donald F Morrison (no. 2320)

B  F/I  W  H   23456
--------------------
           1   42356
    x   1      23645
-          s   32465
--------------------
two part 
contains all 24 56s and 12 65s

Next came London. I offered the band a choice between an ordinary composition (it would have been the "X-shaped" one from this article) and a cyclic composition. They (actually, Jonathan) decided to push the boat out and try cyclic, which we rang without too much difficulty. The music was rather feeble for a cyclic composition, but it was interesting and ringing with singles and split tenors was good practice. We've come a long way since we first struggled with London back in 2011. 

1344 London Surprise Major
Simon J Gay

F  B  2345678
-------------
s  s  7823456
-------------
7 part

Next in line was Glasgow. We were having difficulty getting the band together, so we recruited Marcus on an evening when Angela wasn't available, and he took her place on the trebles. We rang this one-liner, which is a well-known standard composition. 

1250 Glasgow Surprise Major

B H  23456
----------
4 3  24635
----------
3 = --s
Rounds two changes later.

It turns out to be reasonably good for handbells, as the first Before puts 5-6 into coursing until the first Home. Jonathan commented that after ringing a few courses of coursing, it's rather shocking to be thrown into a different position; we have also found this with handbell-friendly compositions of Bristol. The quarter was more trippy than the Bristol or London, but it held together well and there was no real danger of losing it.

Next we had another evening with Marcus and rang London again, this time the "X-shaped" composition.

1280 London Surprise Major
Simon J. Gay
 
M B W  23456 
------------ 
-   -  54632 
  -    43526 
-   -  25634 
------------ 
Repeat.

After this success, we decided to fit one more peal into the year, and rang London. The composition was this classic:

5760 (5024) London Surprise Major
Henry Dains

23456    B  W  H   
----------------
45236    5  -  -  
34256    5  -   
----------------  
3 part.  
72 crus.
For 5024 omit one block of 5.

It's quite good for handbells: in five of the six blocks of befores, either 3-4 or 5-6 (sometimes both) are coursing for four of the five courses. It's best to omit one of the blocks in which neither 3-4 nor 5-6 are coursing: I chose the fourth block. Whichever course doesn't contain the befores is the only time that the tenors ring 2nds and 4ths place bells, so one has to take care to get it right. The peal went off very well, so we feel that we're getting to the point where the leads of London in Horton's Four will provide some relaxation.

What about Belfast? In the spirit of choosing compositions based on "ordinary" criteria, this one has all of the 5678s and several undocumented 8765s.

1344 Belfast Surprise Major
Matthew J L Durham

M   B   W   H   23456
---------------------
    -   1   1   26354
2       2   2   52643
    -   2   1   54326
1   -       2   23456
---------------------
contains all 24 56s

We rang it well, fairly slowly and steadily, but with real stability and quick recovery from the trips that did occur. It still takes a lot of concentration; a peal of Belfast would be a real challenge. Although the composition wasn't chosen for handbell-friendliness, it has quite a lot of coursing for 5-6, because some of the 5678s appear when 5-6 are coursing at the beginning or end of the coursing order. So musicality and handbell-friendliness are not always mutually exclusive.

Next week we will try to ring the split tenors section of Horton's Four, using the composition from a previous article.

 

Cambridge Maximus

We are just back from a handbell weekend in Tulloch, hosted by Helen McGregor and Peter Bevis. Saturday was the general handbell day, with practice sessions and quarters including Plain Bob Minor (Thomas Gay's first quarter), Stedman Triples, Yorkshire Major and Kent Royal. We had also planned to spend Sunday morning practising Cambridge Maximus, with the help of the talented Jack Page. We've had occasional ad hoc attempts at Cambridge before, but this time we took a more systematic approach and allocated pairs in advance so that some homework could be done.

We rang a series of half courses, and later worked our way onto full courses. We started with fairly slow ringing, and found that the speed naturally increased slightly as we became more confident. By the end we felt that we had made enough progress to be able to think about a peal attempt later in the year.

We have previously discussed the advantages of Cambridge over Yorkshire for handbell ringing. One of these is that dodging is synchronised above and below the treble. so it's only when passing the treble that one bell of a pair hunts while the other one dodges. Another nice feature is that each pair has at least some coursing. However, I think what's relevant is not so much the intrinsic difficulty of any particular pair, but the benefit of becoming familiar with the work of a pair so that there's less need to work it out in real time.

I started ringing the tenors, but later I tried 5-6, without having thought about the work of that pair. I was slightly surprised to find myself making 6ths and 9ths place simultaneously, while doing 5-6 places and 9-10 places. This shouldn't have been surprising; the place notation when the treble dodges 7-8 is 169T, and it turns out that the bells making 6ths and 9ths place at that point are in the 5-6 position relative to each other.

The fact that the 3-4 position includes overlapping Cambridge places in adjacent positions (3-4 and 5-6 in Major; also 5-6 and 7-8 in Royal, and so on) is familiar, but I hadn't thought about other ways for two sets of places to overlap.  The diagram shows how it works; in Maximus it can happen with 3-4 and 7-8 places, or with 5-6 and 9-10 places. Both of these are in the 5-6 course.

This structure also occurs in Cambridge Royal with 3-4 and 7-8 places, and this is also in the 5-6 course. I don't particularly remember ever doing that work in Cambridge Royal; maybe I have never rung it on 5-6. Anyway, it's now on my list of memorable features and next time it comes up, it will be a stabilising aid instead of a surprise.

So, a satisfying weekend all round, and we are pleased to be getting better at 12-bell ringing.