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.