Definition of Touch

Graham John graham at
Mon Mar 15 22:43:06 GMT 2010

Thanks Eddie. Interestingly you quote from the OED:

> "9. Bell-ringing. Any series of changes less than a peal.

but the reference...

> 1872 ELLACOMBE Ch. Bells Devon, etc. ix. 471 A peal..means
> the performance of the full number of changes which may be
> rung on a given number of bells;

uses the definition of peal which is now our definition of extent.

> any less number of changes would be called `a touch'.

So, is a touch less than an extent? or less than a current day peal?

> 1898 G. S. TYACK Bk. about Bells viii. 141 Five thousand
> the smallest number to which the name of a
> peal is technically allowed, less than that number merely
> constitutes a `touch'."

This reference might suggest the latter, but would it apply to a 1260 of Minor, given that it is more than an extent?

> Clavis Campanalogia (1788) , p.56 where, advising how to call
> a peal: "but in order to lead the young practitioner on
> progressively, we advise him to ring the following 168
> . . . He may then venture on other short peals or touches
> (as they are called)." 

Why did they chose the word "touch"? Does the OED have a definition of touch that would make sense in this context e.g. like a "dash" of salt, meaning a little, or something indicating less than the whole?

In originally asking the question, I was wondering whether a touch could reasonably be defined as something like: "A distinct piece of practice or performance change ringing of any length,  starting and ending in rounds.", such that a quarterpeal or peal is just a touch over a certain length.



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