May 2016

The 16th Scottish Handbell Day

We had a handbell day on Saturday 7th May, and it was one of the most satisfying so far. Following the pattern of recent handbell days, we scheduled practice sessions before quarter peal attempts, but in several cases the people in a practice session rang a quarter anyway. The quarter peal total was 8: 4 of Bob Major, 2 of Kent Major and 2 of Yorkshire Major. We also practised a variety of methods including, unusually, Stedman Caters.

It was particularly pleasing to be able to support and advance the St Andrews handbell band, which rang its first quarter just before the handbell day. That was Plain Bob Minor, and was the first handbell quarter for Isabella and Philip, and Peter's first in hand as conductor. On handbell day, Philip rang a quarter of Bob Major, Isabella rang two, and Peter called a quarter of Bob Major and rang a quarter of Yorkshire. Subsequently there has been a peal of Kent Major by an East Scotland band, three of whom were at the handbell day.

At the end of the day we tried some rounds and simple change ringing on 16 and on 22, and practised Cambridge Maximus for what was supposed to be a peal attempt on Sunday morning. It became clear, however, that we had little chance of scoring a peal, so Sunday morning was downgraded to a practice and a possible quarter peal. In the end we practised hard and eventually rang a decent plain course, then called it a day. We are getting much better at the 12-bell rhythm and finding our places; now we need to absorb the patterns of each pair so that we can ring without having to concentrate so hard on the lines. I will write some more articles about the characteristics of each pair, as time permits. 

Cambridge Maximus: the rest of the 3-4 position

Following Jonathan's comment, it's worth showing the other combinations of place bells in the 3-4 position - those in which one or both bells are ringing one of the "exceptional" place bells, i.e. 2nd, 3rd and 5th.

Two of the combinations have a stretch of coursing below the treble:

The others include 3rd place bell for either bell, and the symmetrical lead.

Jonathan asked whether the leads in which 3-4 course below the treble have the smallest separation of any leads in Cambridge Maximus. This is true: here is a table showing the average separation for every lead, as well as the average over a whole course for each position.

Pair Lead 1 Lead 2 Lead 3 Lead 4 Lead 5 Lead 6 Average
1-2 1 & 2 : 2.83 1 & 6 : 2.67 1 & 10 : 3.75 1 & 11 : 4.33 1 & 7 : 4.00 1 & 3 : 1.50 3.33
3-4 3 & 4 : 4.13 4 & 8 : 2.00 8 & 12 : 2.25 9 & 12 : 2.08 5 & 9 : 1.17 2 & 5 : 5.58 2.62
5-6 5 & 6 : 5.21 2 & 10 : 2.17 6 & 11 : 4.50 7 & 10 : 4.08 3 & 11 : 4.50 4 & 7 : 4.92 4.17
7-8 7 & 8 : 2.96 3 & 12 : 3.92 4 & 9 : 5.50 5 & 8 : 4.42 2 & 12 : 4.67 6 & 9 : 4.58 4.32
9-10 9 & 10 : 4.04 5 & 11 : 3.58 2 & 7 : 5.58 3 & 6 : 2.83 4 & 10 : 1.50 8 & 11 : 2.00 3.37
11-12 11 & 12 : 1.79 7 & 9 : 1.75 3 & 5 : 2.88 2 & 4 : 1.58 6 & 8 : 2.67 10 & 12 : 2.75 2.19

Cambridge Maximus: The 3-4 Position

I am looking at the patterns arising when ringing the "normal" place bells in Cambridge Maximus - that is, place bells other than 2nd, 3rd and 5th. The normal place bells are the ones that contain a set of Cambridge places. This article is about the 3-4 position.

In the 3-4 position, both bells make places in the same half of the lead, and the places overlap. There are 3 pairs of place bells in which the Cambridge places occur in the first half of the lead, and 3 pairs in which the places are in the second half of the lead; of course, these pairs of place bells are the reverses of the first 3. In the treble bob hunting below the treble, the bells are separated by one bell in the coursing order, so they cross in 2-3. This is the same relative position as in the treble bob hunting above the treble, and is characterised by scissors dodges.

The stability of the overlapping places, and having the same treble bob hunting position above and below the treble, are pleasant features of the 3-4 course. The composition I've chosen for our peal attempt maximises this advantage by keeping 3-4 in their home position throughout.

Cambridge Maximus: The Coursing Position

The previous article introduced the idea of exceptional (2nd, 3rd and 5th) and normal (all the others) place bells in Cambridge Maximus. In the next few articles I will focus on the normal place bells to see the patterns that they involve for each of the handbell pairs, starting with the coursing position.

As I explained in the previous article, there are 7 leads of the course in which you ring two normal place bells. In each lead, one bell does Cambridge places down in the first half of the lead, and the other bell does places up in the second half of the lead. There are two possible patterns, depending on whether the places in the first half of the lead are made by the bell that is coursing ahead (i.e. the tenor, if you are ringing 11-12) or by the bell that is coursing behind (the 11th, if you are ringing 11-12).

The first pattern has the distinctive feature that the second bell runs through the above-the-treble part of the first bell's places, in the same way that we know and love from the beginning of the first lead of Yorkshire Major. The bells get progressively further apart and then settle onto treble bob hunting with two bells between them in the coursing order, so that they eventually dodge together in 3-4. After a while, the second bell does Cambridge places up, and the bells get closer together again until the first bell runs through the above-the-treble part of the second bell's places, so that they are coursing again and proceed with treble bob hunting above the treble. This pattern covers the following pairs of place bells: 4&6, 8&10, 11&12, 7&9.

In the other pattern, it's the second bell that does places down in the first half of the lead. There is no running through the places. The first bell hunts as the second bell starts its places, and by the time both bells are treble bob hunting, they are in the 5-6 position. When the first bell does its places up in the second half of the lead, the second bell "comes up under it" and they return to coursing on the last dodge of the places. This is what happens in the first and last leads of the course in Cambridge Royal, and especially in the last lead I always find it a little awkward. The pattern is seen in the following pairs of place bells: 6&8, 10&12, 9&11.

I'm going to ring the tenors in our peal attempt. I'm hoping to be able to ring the group of four leads above as instances of a single pattern, and similarly the group of three leads.

Cambridge Maximus Pairs

We have another Scottish Handbell Day coming up on Saturday, which we will report on afterwards. We're expecting at least 18 people, so it's going to be a busy day. We decided to make a weekend of it by arranging to go for a peal of Cambridge Maximus on Sunday morning, and I have been thinking about the features of each handbell pair.

Cambridge has a great deal of regular structure, which we have commented on previously. The idea is "boxes around the treble", which leads to the treble bob work being synchronised above and below the treble; this is what makes it easier than Yorkshire to ring. Ideally it would be possible to ring the method directly from the structure, but I have not been able to do that yet. Maybe more experienced 12-bell ringers can comment. Instead, I have been looking at recurring patterns in the way that the bells work together in each of the handbell pairs.

The main features of Cambridge are, of course, the Cambridge places. Most of the place bells make Cambridge places in either the first half or the second half of the lead. The exceptions are 2nd, 3rd and 5th place bells. I will refer to these as the "exceptional" place bells and to the others as the "normal" place bells. If you are ringing two normal place bells then the pattern of interaction between your bells depends on which handbell pair you are ringing, but it can be the same pattern regardless of where the Cambridge places occur. For example, ringing 4th and 8th place bells (in the 3-4 pair) has the same pattern of overlapping places, as ringing 8th and 12th place bells (also in the 3-4 pair). We will see other examples in later articles.

Because there are 3 exceptional place bells, in general there can be 6 leads of the course in which one or other of your bells is ringing an exceptional place bell. However, in the coursing position, you ring 2nd and 3rd place bells simultaneously, and also 3rd and 5th place bells simultaneously. This means that there are only 4 leads of the course in which you are ringing an exceptional place bell (or sometimes two at once), and 7 leads of the course in which you are ringing two normal place bells.

In the 3-4 position, you ring 2nd and 5th place bells simultaneously, so there are 5 leads of the course in which you are ringing at least one exceptional place bell, and 6 leads in which you are ringing two normal place bells.

In the 5-6, 7-8 and 9-10 positions you don't ring two exceptional place bells at the same time, so there are 6 leads of the course in which you have an exceptional place bell, and 5 leads in which you have two normal place bells.

These observations indicate that each of the handbell pairs has its own character in terms of the patterns that arise as the Cambridge places interact with the rest of the work. In subsequent articles I will look at each pair in detail.