Quarters of Plain Bob Major for handbells

Iain Scott asked about handbell-friendly quarter peal compositions of Plain Bob Major, to be called from 5-6 with an inexperienced ringer on 3-4.

I think the answer depends on exactly what each ringer would find easy or difficult. I usually call wrong home wrong, which feels similar to calling a 720 of Bob Minor; the 5th makes the bob and runs out twice, while the 6th is in 7-8 down at the wrong and 5-6 down at the home. This calling doesn't have any particular handbell-ish qualities in terms of which positions each pair gets into, but it's unlikely to be miscalled.

1344 Plain Bob Major

W  H  23456
-  -  45236
-  *  34256
6 part, calling s at * in parts 3 and 6. 

Another possibility is to keep 3-4 in the 3-4 course throughout, at the expense of slightly more complicated work for 5-6.

1344 Plain Bob Major

W M H  23456
s s    63425
s s    53462
  s *  23465
4 part, calling s at * in parts 2 and 4.
For handbells: 3-4 are in the 3-4 course throughout.

In the first course, the 5th makes 4ths at both singles. Then the 6th makes 3rds at the next single, and then the 5th makes 3rds. Finally the 5th makes 4ths, and then in alternate parts there is a single home when 5-6 dodge together in 5-6.

It is often assumed that a handbell-friendly composition means that one pair spends as much time as possible in the coursing position. We can keep 3-4 coursing but the calling becomes more complicated and it would not be particularly easy to call from 5-6.

1344 Plain Bob Major

W M H  23456
    -  42356
  s    62354
6 s -  34256
s      54236
s 3 -  23456
For handbells: 3-4 are coursing for all except the first course.

Interestingly, the peal of Cambridge Royal that I described in a previous article is a combination of the ideas in the above two quarters of Bob Major.

Conducting from the easier pair can be a good idea.

The idea from Andrew Hudson's peal composition can be used for a quarter peal with 5-6 coursing for most of the time. This one is slightly different from the one suggested by Hayden Charles in his comment on that article.

1360 Plain Bob Major

W B M H  23456
  - -    25463
s     s  64523
    s    34526
    - -  65423
-   3    26453
s     s  54623
    s    34625
    - -  56423
-   -    45362
-   - -  23456
For handbells: 5-6 course from the before onwards.

Graham John has suggested a couple of other compositions, in a response to Iain's comment (which is a comment on the handbell day article).


Thank you: this (and Graham's comment) was very helpfull. I had forgotten I had meant to respond to this: my appologies. We did eventually get the qp, after several attempts, though with various substitutions of the band and with out me calling it! I find ringing my bells, plus keeping track of and calling the composition, plus trying to check the rest of the band is right to be a... Challenge which requires more practice!

Submitted by Iain D Scott (not verified) on Fri, 18/03/2016 - 23:54

It's a while since I last studied coursing positions in handbell compositions so I may be wrong, but can I suggest moving the 3 middles in the third of the compositions above to the penultimate row rather than the last row? As written, the 3 middles split 3-4 but placing them on the prior row - between 2 singles at wrong - would keep 3-4 together and keep the composition true. Hoping that this helps.

Submitted by kilucas on Mon, 14/09/2020 - 10:46