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 

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.