Another two weeks in Ringing Room

I've already reported on the Lincolnshire Maximus on 1st November, which I conducted from the tenors. The following Tuesday we rang Lincolnshire again, which I also conducted but from 5-6. I found it much more difficult. I think I was underprepared for the 3-4 course, and the way in which my bells were ringing places near each other took me by surprise. On the Thursday we rang a quarter of Stedman Cinques, which was a satisfying score after several previous attempts.

We also had a session getting Julia's eBells configured properly, and then on Sunday morning Tina, Julia and I rang a quarter of Plain Bob Minor for an extended test. Tomorrow we're going to try a quarter of Cambridge. As for this week, on Tuesday I rang a quarter of Bristol Major in which we assigned pairs of bells randomly just before starting. We had agreed in advance that whoever ended up on 7-8 would call it, which turned out to be me. It went very well with only very tiny trips.

Finally, I called another quarter of Grandsire Caters yesterday evening. That makes three now, and I'm getting more confident at it. The ringing was very good yesterday, a little faster than usual with hardly any internet delays and no significant method mistakes.

I've never been much of a Grandsire conductor - as far as I remember I've called one peal each of Triples and Caters in the tower, and a few quarters of each with a very limited range of compositions. For the Grandsire Caters on handbells I've called the same quarter three times now, and I'm getting used to how it works. So let's have a look at the composition to understand what's going on.

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)

This is a common style of composition, in which most of the courses are five-lead courses consisting of a bob course with a couple of plain leads. The key is that in the bob courses, the bobs don't change the coursing order but at the plain leads, the hunt bell moves one position earlier in the coursing order because it doesn't dodge.

The first course has bobs at 1, 4, 5 and it produces the course end 123456978 with the back bells in the tittums position (coursing order 789). The coursing order of the back bells initially is 897. The bob at 1 puts the 7 into the hunt, so at the first plain lead it advances and the coursing order becomes 879. At the second plain lead the 7 advances again and the coursing order becomes 789. After that, the bobs at 4 and 5 are back into the pattern of a bob course and the coursing order doesn't change any more. Because the front bells were never in the hunt at a plain lead, their order didn't change, so at the end of the first course there's a tittums course end with 23456 back in their home positions.

The second course just has a single at 5, which puts the 6 into the hunt (easy to get this call in the right place when ringing 5-6). This course doesn't fit the general pattern based on bob courses - it's a plain course with just one call in it, so it's a six-lead course because the call advances all the bells through the circle of work. This means that as the 2 comes out of the hunt by dodging 4-5 down, it's in the position that the 6 would have been in after two plain leads if the single had not been called. So the effect of the single is to swap 2 and 6: the bells entering and leaving the hunt.

The third course, with singles at 1 and 4, is the most complicated. The second course end was 163452 and the aim is to get to 123465 with 5-6 in their swapped position where they stay for the rest of the quarter. Now we know that a single swaps the bells entering and leaving the hunt, we can see that the single at 1, which puts 5 into the hunt, would produce the course end 153462 if there were no other calls in the course. Almost what we want, with 6 in 5th place, but we also need to swap 2 and 5. Easy: call 2 into the hunt with a single at 4, so that it swaps with the 5 which comes out of the hunt. The course is five leads long.

The composition now enters a standard pattern consisting of alternating blocks in the tittums and handstroke home (course end 1xxxxx879) positions. For a peal we would need longer blocks in each position, but for a quarter it's possible to get the length without disturbing 5-6 from their positions at the course ends: only 2, 3, 4 and the back bells are going to move around.

The next course has bobs at 1, 2, 3 and most of the remaining courses have the same calling. Notice that the course moves from the course end 123465 to 142365. This is the same transposition that we would get by calling a home in, for example, Plain Bob Major. Here, however, it's achieved by a bob course with an omit at the home position. Referring to the observation that a plain lead advances the hunt bell through the coursing order, we can break down the effect of the 1, 2, 3 course into what happens at each plain lead. The coursing order is 234 (in Grandsire this part of the coursing order is exactly the same as the course end row). The bob at 3 puts 4 into the hunt, so the first plain lead changes the coursing order to 243 and the second plain lead changes it to 423, which is what we have at the course end.

There is now another 1, 2, 3 course which works in the same way and produces 134265 as the next course end.

Next it's time to change the position of the back bells, from coursing order 789 (tittums) to 798 (handstroke home). The calling for the next course is 1, 3, 4. Because the 9 is in 7th place at the course end, the bob at 1 puts it into the hunt. Th plain lead at 2 advances it in the coursing order, producing 798 as we wanted. Then it's back to the pattern of a bob course with bobs at 3 and 4, the second of which puts 4 into the hunt. The plain lead at 5 advances the 4 and changes the coursing order of the front bells from 342 to 432, which is also the next course end row.

We now have two more 1, 2, 3 courses which work in the same way as before, but notice that the front bells are now in out-of-course positions at the course ends (ie. in Bob Major we would need a single home among the bobs, to produce those course ends).

Next comes another turning course to put the back bells back into tittums. This time the front bells need to stay in the out-of-course combinations, because the in-course courses have already been rung in the tittums position. So instead of 1, 3, 4 the calling is 1, 3, s4 and the effect on the front bells is the same as would have been achieved by a 1, 2, 3 course.

The rest of the composition proceeds along the same lines, with blocks of 1, 2, 3 and another 1, 3, 4 turning course to pick up the in-course handstroke home courses. The very last course is only four leads, coming round at handstroke.

I still find it takes a lot of concentration to call this quarter. Probably it would be easier in live ringing than in Ringing Room. Ringing an odd-bell method is less familiar than even-bell methods, so the base level of concentration to just keep plain hunting is higher. It should be possible to follow the coursing order in every lead, based on the explanation above of how it changes, but I didn't manage to do that. Sometimes I could see the coursing order of the front bells, but to check correctness I mainly relied on the course ends, which I could hear as well as see.

Next week's schedule includes a quarter of Grandsire Triples on Tuesday and then an initial foray into Bristol Maximus on Wednesday. The Five o'Clock Club enters the black zone! Probably we won't be able to ring a quarter first time, so the aim is more likely to be a plain course, perhaps with a snap start so that 5-6 are coursing.