[r-t] A Review of Diary Compositions

Mark Davies mark at snowtiger.net
Mon Nov 22 23:44:28 UTC 2004

The RW appears to have first started printing peal compositions in the Diary
in 1988, or possibly 1987. Before this they just printed quarter-peals. For
this review I have restricted myself to analysing the peal compositions, and
in particularly examining how they've changed (or not) to reflect modern
tastes over the last seventeen or eighteen years.


Not much scope for music here, but anyway. My 1988 diary has two
compositions of Grandsire (Parker, E Taylor), and one each of Plain Bob
(Clatworthy) and Stedman (Thurstans arr. Dexter). For 2005 the short-course
G7 has been dropped and Parker's 12-part retained, which seems fair enough.
A different Dexter arrangement has been chosen, but no bobs only, sorry
chaps! Finally, it's interesting that the same PB7 comp is printed, but the
attribution has been corrected to C Ravenscroft.

Overall, no real complaints - a sensible updating of a dull if necessary


The space saved by dropping Taylor's short-course Grandsire Triples has been
used to give us a second PB Major comp - courtesy of one Roger Bailey. There
are some other minor improvements:

Kent - reasonable J Reeves composition replaces old-fashioned one by

Yorkshire - none specifically for the method in the 1988 diary, 2005 has

Rutland - horrific N Smith comp for horrific method kept, but a DFM
arrangement added, which I imagine is much superior. Surely we only need one
Rutland comp, if that.

Bristol - JW Parker comp dropped, the ubiquitous Ivin kept. Would be nice to
see something more modern and less CRU-heavy in addition to this.

London - ancient Washbrook jobbie kept, slightly more interesting Dains
all-Befores effort added. Conspicuous absence of I/V.

Other than that, very little change, meaning lots of arrangements heavy with
the mould of obsolete compositional ideas. OK, really we have to have
Middleton's for Cambridge, but Pitstow for Superlative? Why not an AJ Cox?
And TWO compositions of Lincolnshire - Barton & Humphrey - eh? Why not a DFM
8-spliced to freshen up the tired old N Smith? Finally, surely such a fine
method as DNCBM deserves a couple of modern compositions to replace the
aging Washbrook.


Tyler No.2 for Grandsire, and R Dennis for Stedman, thus it has always been
and thus it will ever be, or so it seems. I particularly dislike the
Dennis, finishing with a part of 798 is just horrible (especially on
handbells when you're tired...). Come on, we can do better than this!


One ray of hope here - Darby's Yorkshire Royal has been replaced with Ben
Constant's simple, neat and musical production. He must be the only composer
under 50 to be featured.

However the scenario for other methods is less rosy. A Kippin Kent Royal has
been replaced by an equally ugly Clatworthy (I know the man has better
compositions than this). The ancient-beyond-the-grave Worsley and Pye
Cambridge comps have been replaced with... an "Anon". I suppose reducing the
number of compositions for this method is a bonus. CK Lewis's London No.3
has been swapped for another arrangement by the same composer. Why no Fluke!

No change for PB Royal, I suppose who cares, and a big step backwards for
Bristol Royal - instead of zero compositions we have two AWFUL ones. Six
courses Home, anyone? Twice in one composition? In BOTH!!


Exactly the same as Caters really, and just as depressing - Hooley's
Grandsire, and Dennis gets to murder Stedman again. Please Mr House will you
rescue us.


Now here surely is where we would expect to see some progress, if nowhere
else. Composition in the field of twelve bells has undergone a revolution in
the last fifteen years. Surely the Diary will reflect this...

Nope. Same compositions throughout, except we lose one, a Dench Cambridge
Maximus. No great loss, but... Blagrove's Bristol Max anyone? Err, no
thanks. Maybe in the 1970s. In the 21st Century surely we deserve a
Clatworth, a Hull, or even a Wilby...

OK, how about some nice Yorkshire or Avon or Rigel perhaps? Again, nope,
sorry. Two Kippins - PB and Kent - and Roddy's not-bad-for-a-beginner
Cambridge. That's it.

Final Stats

And here's a summary of the great leap forward in peal composition from 1988
to 2005...

Total: 31 comps (1988), 33 (2005)
Old comps dropped: 8
New comps added: 10
Old comps kept decades past their sell-by date: 23

Perhaps the collected minds of r-t would like to recommend some decent
compositions for the 2006 Diary?


More information about the ringing-theory mailing list