Handbell Compositions: 5040 London No.3 Surprise Royal by Donald F Morrison

We've arranged another attempt for our peal of London Royal for the Saturday after Christmas. I've decided to try a different composition, which is this one.

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     -   

When I first looked at it, I thought it looked a little complicated; it didn't have the memorable pattern on the page that I saw in Richard Pearce's composition. Also it has singles, which Richard's composition doesn't. But I've studied it more, and it's another example of a handbell-friendly composition in which knowing that a certain pair (3-4 in this case) stays coursing is a big help in remembering the calling.

According to Graham John's CompLib, 3-4 have 95% coursing, and the rest in the 3-4 position. What that means is 6 leads of the 3-4 position, i.e. 3 leads in each half of the peal. Closer examination shows that 3-4 ring the first lead of the 3-4 course, i.e. 3rd and 4th place bells; the last lead of the 3-4 course, i.e. 2nd and 6th place bells (these occur in the first and last leads of the part, which can't be avoided); and 2nd and 6th place bells again, somewhere within the part. This is about as good as it could be, because these pairs of place bells are the reverses of each other, and contain some coursing within them even though they are not from the coursing position.

Let's work through the coursing orders to see how 3-4 are affected. Start in the plain course, 53246.

Call Coursing Order Comment
M 53462 The quickest way to get 3-4 coursing, which in London only takes 1 lead.
sH 56432 Keep 3-4 coursing. A Wrong would also do it, so we need to remember that it's sH.
sM 56234 Move 3-4 to the end of the coursing order, still coursing.
H 52364 This is where 3-4 ring 2nd and 6th place bells.
M 52643 3-4 back into coursing.
M 52436 A memorable coursing order. 3-4 run in and out.
H 54326 A nice 567890 course end. 3-4 run in and out again.
W 43526 3-4 run in and out again.
M 43265

Remember to affect 5-6 before moving 3-4 again.

sW 23465

The only way to keep 3-4 coursing.

sH 26435

Continue the theme of moving 3-4 towards the end of the coursing order.

W 64235

Into the coursing order for the part end. 3-4 ring 2nd and 6th place bells for the last lead of the course.

I found that after I had worked through the coursing orders in this way, noticing how the bells are affected, I just about knew the composition. I find it important to work through the coursing orders for the second half of the peal too, to get used to how it looks with 3-4 and 5-6 reversed.

When thinking about who should ring which pair, I find myself worrying that whoever I ask to ring the easy pair will be insulted by the insinuation that it's all they can manage. Alternatively, I suppose, whoever is ringing the difficult pair could be annoyed that they have a harder job.

I have developed the philosophy that if someone has an easier pair, then it's easier for that person to ring better, which makes all the ringing better, and that makes it easier for everyone to ring better. From that point of view, it doesn't matter who gets the easier pair. I think we have all accepted that. So I hope that this composition will work better than the Richard Pearce composition in which 3-4 and 5-6 ring exactly the same work as each other, when the whole peal is considered.

Let's see what happens next Saturday!