Yorkshire Maximus

After ringing a quarter of Cambridge Maximus in Handbell Stadium last Saturday, tomorrow we're going for Yorkshire. I've hardly ever rung it (although I do have a memory of an unsuccessful peal attempt in the mid-1990s) so I thought I'd better do a bit of practice with Mabel. I started on the tenors, without any preparation except for remembering that the tenor has to do 7-8 places because that's what it does in Cambridge. My only other preconception was the idea that Yorkshire is more difficult than Cambridge, which is what we've found for Royal because the dodges are not synchronised above and below the treble.

So, off I went, and it was really easy! It just seemed to unfold naturally without any surprises. Here are the lines for the first half of  the course (diagram from Composition Library), and then I will comment on each lead.

  • Lead 1: 11th and 12th place bells. Tumbling places in both halves of the lead, just like Major, and coursing in between them. It's enough to remember that 12th place bell starts with 7-8 places, and has to do 3-4 places up in order to become 9th place bell.
  • Lead 2: 7th and 9th place bells. Again two sets of tumbling places, and it's enough to remember that 9th place bell does 9-10 places down and then 7th place bell does 3-4 places up to become 3rd place bell.
  • Lead 3: 3rd and 5th place bells. The first half lead is easy, but the second half lead is one of the most difficult parts of the course because the bells are on opposite sides of the treble and therefore ring out-of-step treble bob hunting. The same thing happens in Major but it's less noticeable because the out-of-step part is much shorter.
  • Lead 4: 2nd and 4th place bells. Out-of-step treble bob hunting even though both bells are below the treble. 4th place bell is forced to stop in 7-8 places up because 2nd place bell does a triple dodge in 9-10. The work in this lead is the same as in Major, with some additional treble bob hunting for both bells.
  • Lead 5: 6th and 8th place bells. For the first 16 changes, the bells are ringing in exactly the same places that they would in Major, but of course in Maximus it isn't the symmetrical lead. I knew that 6th place bell should do 9-10 places up, but I didn't have a clear idea of which places 8th place bell would do. However, stopping in 5-6 places felt right, and in fact the 5-6 and 9-10 places have the same relationship as the 5-6 and 1-2 places (better known as frontwork) in the first half of the lead.
  • Lead 6: 10th and 12th place bells. This is the symmetrical lead. I still remembered that 12th place bell does 7-8 places, and I also remembered that 10th place bell does 3-4 places, the same as in Royal. These sets of places are in the same relative positions as both pairs of places in the previous lead.

So there we are - not too bad, although I expect the other pairs are less easy. Let's see what happens in the morning.

Real handbell ringing at last!

Now we are allowed to meet with three households indoors, we got our handbell band together in person this evening. We set out a large triangle with Jonathan and Angela at one vertex, Peter at another, and Tina and me at the third. With a suitable assignment of pairs (Angela 1-2 and Jonathan 9-10, Tina 7-8 and me 5-6, Peter 3-4) we had our ten-bell band.

We started with a course of Cambridge, and then another which was better. I don't ring it on 5-6 very often and found it a bit different. There are overlapping places, in 3-4 and 7-8, but in a different way than the overlapping places in the 3-4 course. Making 4th and 7th place simultaneously felt a little odd.

Inspired by our success with Cambridge, we went back to the Lincolnshire project, and got through a plain course. Later we tried Yorkshire, but it didn't go. Never mind. We are back in business. Bristol by the end of the year!

Another week in cyberspace

Three online quarter peal attempts again this week, but only two scored. On Wednesday we tried Yorkshire Royal in Ringing Room, but there were a lot of delays and it didn't go. Thursday was London Major, again in Ringing Room, which we rang very well. Actually that was my first quarter in Ringing Room. I used my Tim Hart 3D-printed dummy handbells and my Mac version of Handbell Manager, and they worked well. Finally, this morning we rang a quarter of Cambridge Maximus in Handbell Stadium, with the same band as last week's Kent Maximus. We didn't manage to ring quite as quickly as the Kent, but we squeezed in just under the one-hour mark. Much of the ringing was pretty good, but there were patches with significant delays which we had to fight our way through.

Also I joined the Handbell Stadium practice on Friday evening, and rang Double Oxford Minor, Plain Bob Minor and Oxford Major. I haven't rung Oxford on more than six for a long time. It's harder to keep track of than Kent because the 3-4 places at the beginning of the lead swap a pair of bells over, until they swap back at the end of the lead. And that's on top of the treble replacing the slow bell, which happens in the same way as in Kent.

So what happens in Oxford is that the slow bell is replaced by the treble in the coursing order during each lead, and the bells on either side of the slow bell in the coursing order are swapped over. Here are the coursing orders in each lead.

Lead number Lead head Slow bell Coursing order
1 12345678 2 8754136
2 14263857 4 8753612
3 16482735 6 7532814
4 18674523 8 5324716
5 17856342 7 5183246
6 15738264 5 8317246
7 13527486 3 8721546

This means that if you want to follow what's going on and be able to get the bells to lead in the right order, you have to do a coursing order transposition at the beginning of every lead. So the concentration level is higher. Also, of course, the pairs change position more than they do in Kent, so overall there are several factors counteracting the absence of wrong places in 3-4.

A week of online ringing

I've had a busy week of online ringing. Last Saturday we tried a quarter of Cambridge Maximus, in Handbell Stadium, with the band that rang the peal of Cambridge Royal, plus Graham Firman. We didn't find it very easy, and eventually had to stop because someone's laptop was running out of battery. We agreed to try again on Thursday, ringing Kent so that we could focus more on pace and rhythm (the idea had been to get below a 3h30 peal speed).

During the week I signed up for a couple of quarters with Gareth Davies' Five o'Clock Handbell Club. On Tuesday I called a quarter of Lincolnshire, again in Handbell Stadium, which went smoothly although I found it needed a lot of concentration. About half way through, an alert popped up on my screen, from Skype wanting to install an update. I had no way of getting rid of it, so it just stayed there, obscuring my view of the trebles.

Tuesday evening was the Glasgow online tower bell practice, in Ringing Room. I used my new Handbell Manager for Mac program so that I could ring with a motion controller instead of pressing the keyboard. At one point during the practice I rang 3-4 for a course of Grandsire Triples, with Tina ringing 1-2 and everyone else ringing one bell each.

Wednesday was the Five o'Clock Club again, and we rang a quarter of Bristol in Handbell Stadium. Mike Purday called a composition with a snap start and 6th place bobs, to keep 5-6 coursing - the calling was just 6 ins (s - - s - - ) for the tenor. It went very well. Alan Winter was ringing with a pair of controllers that he has made to my design, which was satisfying.

Thursday was the second attempt at the Kent Maximus. It didn't go, because my network connection was playing up. I was experiencing a lot of delays which made it sound as if the rest of the bells were ringing late and piling on top of each other. The rest of the band didn't get the same effect, but it was extremely difficult for me to keep to a rhythm. Eventually one of my bells got stuck, which was quite a mercy.

Friday was the regular Handbell Stadium practice that Graham John organises. During the week, as I described in another article, I received a pair of 3D-printed dummy handbells from Tim Hart and installed my Arduino sensors in them. So on Friday I tried them out. They worked well, and the weight is about the same as my original wooden dummy handbells. They have longer cables, which makes them a bit easier to ring when sitting at my desk. There are some sharp edges and corners though, which is evidence for high-quality printing, but it might be a good idea to smooth out the design a little. Unusually for a Friday practice, I didn't find myself ringing any Double Norwich, but I rang some Double Oxford Minor and some Plain Bob Royal.

Round to Saturday again (today), and we had another attempt at the quarter of Kent Maximus - successful this time. We were down to 3h25 speed for a while, which is much more promising for ringing a peal than the 0ver-4h speed of the previous Handbell Stadium quarter of maximus, and similar to some of the quarters on Ringing Room. My network was behaving better - there were still a few delays, but I'm finding it easier to have the confidence to stick to my internal rhythm and ring through them. Overall it was a good quarter.

The final exciting news is that I've ordered a 3D printer of my own, which is supposed to arrive today. So I hope to be able to print more dummy handbells from Tim Hart's design (but maybe with smoother edges), and I also want to look into printing clappers for the mini-bell conversions.

Handbell Manager for Mac

Mac users are a little bit behind Windows users when it comes to technology for online handbell ringing. We are catered for by Handbell Stadium, but we don't have a version of Graham John's Handbell Manager software that converts the input from motion controllers into keypresses that will drive Mabel or Ringing Room.

I have solved this problem by implementing my own simple version of Handbell Manager. It's not quite as fancy as Graham's, and in particular it doesn't have the option to draw graphs of the inputs from the controllers, but it works. You can download it here. It's not really productised yet, because I haven't succeeded in packaging it up into a standalone application. But if you are willing to roll up your sleeves and do some software installation, here's how to do it.

  1. Make sure your Mac has a recent enough version of MacOS: at least 10.13 (High Sierra).
  2. Install Python 3.8.
  3. Install Homebrew.
  4. In a Terminal window, type brew install sdl sdl_image sdl_mixer sdl_ttf portmidi

  5. In a Terminal window, type pip3 install pygame

  6. In a Terminal window, type pip3 install pynput

  7. Plug in your controllers.

  8. In a Finder window, go to the folder where you saved HandbellManagerMac.py

  9. Right-click on HandbellManagerMac.py and select "Open with IDLE 3.8.3"

  10. In the window showing the code of HandbellManagerMac.py, press F5 (or fn-F5, depending on your keyboard).

  11. You should see an application window that looks like this:

  12. Set the Left and Right controllers so that they are the right way around.

  13. Set the Axis options to whatever you would use in single-axis mode in Handbell Stadium.

  14. Set the Handstroke and Backstroke values to whatever you would use in Handbell Stadium.

  15. Swinging the controllers should result in #Handstrokes and #Backstrokes counting upwards.

  16. Click on the window of the application that you want to ring in: Mabel, or a browser with Ringing Room. Make sure it has the "focus", i.e. it is the active window.

  17. Swinging the controllers should cause your simulated bells to sound. If using Mabel, make sure you don't have up/down key action selected (this is in Preferences / Ringing).

  18. If this doesn't work, you can try going into System Preferences, then Security and Privacy, then Privacy, then Accessibility, and in the "Allow these apps to control your computer", add IDLE (which you will find in the Python folder within Applications) and Terminal (which you will find in the Utilities folder within Applications).

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