Big bobs and other non-standard calls

Submitted by Simon on Mon, 18/01/2021 - 18:58

I've just rung a quarter of 3-spliced surprise royal (Cambridge, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire) which contained a "big bob" - that is, a 6ths place bob. This is a fairly common idea for surprise maximus (there it would be an 8ths place bob), especially in methods with Cambridge place bell order where it gives a neat way of getting a length of 5040, but I think it's the first time I've encountered it in royal.

Usually the big bob is called in the "before" position, so that the tenors run in and out - and because the bob is higher up than the usual 4th place, the rest of the back bells also plain hunt and cross in pairs at the lead end. For royal, the 7th becomes 4th place bell and the 8th becomes 5th place bell. For maximus, it's the 9th and the 10th becoming 4th and 5th place bells while the 7th and the 8th become 6th and 7th place bells. The effect on the working bells is the same as a before in major: coursing order 53246 becomes 65324.

In Cambridge Maximus the before is at the third lead end and the big bob jumps to the 9th lead, giving a six-lead course. Combined with nine normal-length courses, the result is 105 leads, i.e. 5040.

In Cambridge Royal (and other B group methods) the before is at the seventh lead end, and calling a big bob jumps back to the second lead end. This produces a 14 lead course, which combined with two normal-length courses gives 32 leads, i.e. 1280 for a quarter.

I think the composition that David called today was this one by Sam Austin. Here it is with just the bobs, because I'm not so interested in the pattern of methods.

1280 Group B Surprise Royal

W  B  M  H  23456
      -  -  64352
-  x  -  -  35426
-           23456
x = 16 bob

It's quite musical, as this table of the coursing orders shows:

Coursing order Runs at the back
53246 xxxxxx5432 at handstroke
53462 xxxxxx6543 at backstroke
54632 xxxxxx7654 at handstroke
46532 xxxxxx3456 at backstroke
24653 xxxxx23456 at backstroke
24536 xxxxxx2345 at handstroke
25346 xxxxxx6543 at backstroke

and the quarter has 75 4-bell runs at the back as well as 39 on the front.

The composition is true to each method individually, with the same runs at the back in each case. Yorkshire gives the most runs on the front. Maybe I will try calling it one day, either for a single method or for spliced when we move to that stage with the Albany Quadrant band.

That quarter was nice and we rang it pretty well, but there's more to come. On Wednesday we're going for London Royal, and Peter has chosen a calling of four homes, single bob single bob, where the bobs are standard and the singles have place notation 123456. This means that 5-6 stay in the 5-6 position, while 3-4 ring the 3-4 and coursing positions. It's a similar idea to the four homes for Bristol with standard singles, but that calling isn't true to London.

I've come across the idea of a 123456 single before. Back when we were working on a peal of 8-spliced, we once practised the second half by starting with a lead of Bristol and ringing a 123456 single to get straight to the lead end 12436578 which was the half-way point in the peal. Another example was a peal of Bristol Maximus (on tower bells) composed and conducted by David Hull, which had five different calls including a 123456 single. The effect of a 123456 single at home is to reverse the whole 5-bell coursing order (e.g. from 53246 to 64235) which means that from any coursing order that generates runs at the back, calling a single produces another such coursing order. It can therefore be used to jump quickly between musical courses.

Another non-standard call that I've encountered on handbells is a 1456 single. A few years ago we rang a quarter of Yorkshire with the calling bob bob single bob bob single, with the singles as 1456. This means that 5-6 ring the 5-6 course throughout, which 3-4 ring the 3-4 and coursing positions. This is arguably the simplest calling if you don't mind the unusual calls.