September 2017

London Royal

After our success with Cambridge, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, we have decided to try London next. Other possibilities would have been Rutland, or spliced Cambridge, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, or Bristol. I don't think Rutland would be very rewarding - we don't ring it in the tower, so we would probably just be hampered by lack of familiarity with the method. The band thought that spliced would be more difficult without any particular benefit in learning new skills. Probably we could get through it with a simple composition such as this one in whole courses, but I would expect trippiness on going into each new method. Of course you could argue that if there's anything we can't  do well then we should practise it until we get better, but life is busy and we have to prioritise.

I hope we can eventually progress to Bristol, as I would ultimately like to be able to ring Kippin's Four (Cambridge, Yorkshire, London, Bristol). However, I think London will be easier (contrary to our experience of Major, where we found London much harder to master than Bristol).

The composition we have been using for the Cambridge-above methods isn't true to London, so I have to find something different. I searched BellBoard for peals of London Royal on handbells for which the composition has been entered, and found several 2-parts (always a good start), with handbell-friendly features. Let's have a look at them, with the help of Graham John's Composition Library which can analyse the amount of each position rung by each handbell pair.

The first composition is by Richard Pearce. The part-end 26543 means that 3-4 and 5-6 do the same work as each other, with a majority of coursing. It starts with the whole plain course, which is a good warm-up. 

5040 London No.3 Surprise Royal
Richard A Pearce

23456  M   W   H
42356          -
54326      -   
64235  -   2   -
35642  2   -
26543  -       -
2 part.
Both 3-4 and 5-6 do 65% coursing, 15% 3-4 position & 20% 5-6 position.

Next is a composition by Graham John, which gives more coursing to 3-4 and keeps them out of the 5-6 and 7-8 positions. 5-6 have a few leads of the 3-4 and 7-8 positions, but mostly coursing and 5-6.

5040 London No. 3 Surprise Royal
Graham A C John

23456  M   W   H
45326      s   -
26354  s   -  
52364  3   -  
24365  -       2
2 part.
Handbell-friendly for 3-4 (71% coursing; 29% 3-4 position) and 5-6 (54% coursing; 40% 5-6 position).

Finally, there is a composition by Don Morrison, in which 3-4 have 95% coursing and 5% in the 3-4 position. 5-6 have a more balanced diet.

5040 London No.3 Surprise Royal
Donald F Morrison (no. 1705)

23456  M  W  H
46352  -     s
32654  s     -
34256  2     -
53246     -
46325  -  s  s
24365     -   

I also put one together myself, inspired by David Maynard's compositions of Bristol Major in which the idea is to use blocks of 5 befores, with bobs at wrong and home to connect coursing orders in which both 3-4 and 5-6 are coursing. To apply this idea to London Royal, I used 6th place bobs. The result is that 3-4 ring 78% coursing and 19% 5-6, and 5-6 ring 73% coursing and 20% 5-6. The befores can be replaced by in-and-fifths, which replaces some of the coursing by the 7-8 position and splits the tenors for two leads per course. A drawback of having either a before in every course or in-and-fifths in every course is that the tenors don't ring all the work.

5120 London No.3 Surprise Royal
Simon J Gay

23456   M   B   W   H
42356   –   -   –   –
34256       5       –
36452       -   –   –
45362       5   –   –
23456       4       –
Bobs at B are place notation 16.

I'm inclined towards Richard Pearce's composition, but I will give it some more thought before the attempt. We've agreed to go for the peal the day after the next handbell day at the beginning of October. We should be able to fit in some practice during the handbell day. I think the main hazard is failing to turn round in 4th place during 2nd and 3rd place bells. I hope we can develop a way of doing this based on the position of the treble. 

Lincolnshire Royal

Yesterday we scored a peal of Lincolnshire Royal, at the second attempt. We rang it on a new set of bells: the light 10 of Jonathan's 12. As well as becoming more familiar with the method (improved since the first attempt), we are getting better at 10-bell ringing. There were fewer crunches due to difficulty in finding the position that someone wanted to ring in, and fewer instances of "lagging at the back".

Graham John's observation (in a comment on the "Cambridge or Yorkshire" article) is really helpful. If you have one bell above the treble and one below, then they always dodge and hunt out of step with each other: if one hunts then the other dodges, and vice versa, unless the bell above the treble is in a set of places and is making the place immediately adjacent to dodging with the treble. This means that when one bell double dodges at the back, the other bell hunts twice near the front, which explains the missed dodge on either side of the 5-pull dodges. I found that by focusing my attention on the bell at the front, I was able to ring the other bell by this rule without thinking about what its line was. Once or twice I lost track of whether the bell at the front was hunting or dodging, but in general the system worked well. The diagram is from Martin Bright's method printer.

Although we rang the same composition that we have rung for Cambridge (several times) and Yorkshire, in the first attempt I was having difficulty fixing the coursing order in my mind. To prepare for the second attempt, I spent some time thinking about all the coursing orders that occur in the composition, with the idea that during the peal I would be able to remember which coursing order we were in, rather than remembering what the coursing order was. What I mean by this is that, for example, if the coursing order is 52436, I don't think of it as a random sequence of digits that I have to hold in my mind; I think of it as the coursing order that you get to by calling a home from the plain course. I know which coursing order it is, rather than (actually, as well as) what it is.

The coursing orders in the CUG Collective composition are the following, grouped logically.

  • 53246, 52436, 54326: 5-6 home and 2-3-4 in-course
  • 63245, 62435, 64325: 5-6 reversed and 2-3-4 in-course
  • 53642, 63542: 3-4 home, 2 at the end
  • 23546, 23645: 3-4 home, 2 at the beginning
  • 52634, 62534: 3-4 coursing at the end, 5-6 in the 3-4 position
  • 34526, 34625: 3-4 coursing at the beginning, 5-6 in the 3-4 position

This was helpful in remembering the coursing order, although I should also say that when ringing on 10 I make much less use of the coursing order than I do on 8. This is partly because I find it much more difficult to work out people's place bells on 10, and partly because the kind of mistakes we make are mostly people getting a little out of step rather than forgetting their place bells. However, I always feel that if I don't follow the coursing order, I have nothing to go on; and it is good to be able to check the course ends and see the bells hunting down from the back in the correct order.

On the subject of checking the coursing order, I realised something that should have been completely obvious all along. In Cambridge-above methods I have always found that the treble's backstroke snap after the wrong is a useful checkpoint in the coursing orders 52436 and 54326 (and indeed the plain course). At the snap, 2-3-4 strike in their coursing order, followed by the 5678 roll-up. For example, in the coursing order 54326, the change at the backstroke snap when the tenor is 7th place bell, is 14325678. What I realised last week is that this must be true at every backstroke snap: three bells strike in their coursing order in 2nd, 3rd and 4th place. For example, two changes into Yorkshire Major the change is 12463857, with 2-4-6 striking in their coursing order. So that's a potentially useful way of checking the coursing order, as an alternative to watching the bells coming down from the back (which I always find easier than watching them hunting towards the back).