[r-t] Definition of calls

Graham John graham at changeringing.co.uk
Wed Oct 27 13:03:41 UTC 2004

Following up on Tony's response to my original questions, I sent the reply


The current decisions now have no definition of what a bob or a single is*.
This seems bizarre. If a new recruit to ringing asks what a bob is, there is
no official source to refer to, and no agreement on what the definition
should be.




*Note: Following my comments on the original draft, the vague phrase  "Calls
may be called bob or single or other terms as agreed by the band." was
omitted from the final wording. 



From: John, Graham [mailto:Graham.John at logicacmg.com] 
Sent: 25 February 2004 15:21
To: 'graham at changeringing.co.uk'
Subject: Email to Tony




Thank you for your email regarding updates to the proposed changes to


I would like to add some further discussion on calls, but before I do, it is
worth a short diversion.


It is my view that the Central Council should, on the whole,  avoid creating
rules which constrain changeringing - and in practice changes to decisions
in recent years have been consistent with this view. On the other hand, I
believe that the technical committees can provide real value by maintaining
consistent terminology for describing changeringing. Much of this will fall
on the Methods Committee, although it is arguable that calls should be the
responsibility of the Compositions Committee!


One of the problems in providing consistent terminology, is trying to
accommodate the vagaries of the past and the possibilities of the future
into a consistent structure. I think this can be addressed in two main ways:


1. The "OED" approach, where the creators of the Oxford English Dictionary
decided not to try and regulate the English language, but instead found
examples of word usage and used these to create definitions. If they found
more than one use, they created multiple definitions.


2. The "evolutionary" approach, where definitions are changed to provide a
consistent terminology which meets the requirements of today. This can
result in some terminology becoming obselete, and practitioners being
encouraged to use up to date terminology.


Both of these approaches have their benefits, and there are examples of both
in past CC decisions. The OED approach is least likely to offend, since it
allows existing usage to continue. It also makes it easier to come up with
definitions, since you can use multiple definitions to avoid confusion
between different cases. The evolutionary approach on the other hand, is
easier to manage, since there is minimal legacy to worry about.


Returning to the currently proposed changes, I am still concerned about
calls. With regard to the definition of a call itself, had you considered
the option of defining a call as altering the places between two consecutive
rows and leaving out the "or more". The effective twin bob used in
Scientific and the bob-single used in Grandsire could then be referred to as
"compound calls".


If the Methods Committee with its respected and highly experienced members,
feels unable, or unwilling, to define Bobs and Singles, then I wonder who
can? Wouldn't someone new to ringing be surprised to find that there is no
official definition of a Bob or a Single? My preference is for a more
detailed description of a Bob or Single than:


> Calls may be called "bob" or "single" or other terms as agreed by the


This implies that there is no distinction between the two terms, and they
could be interchangeable. Yet, perhaps with the exception of Doubles (which
I am not familiar with), I can't think of any examples which wouldn't be
covered by the following:- 




1. A call made by addition, removal or shifting of places, without altering
the nature of the row. 

2. A compound call made by multiple additions, removal or shifts of places,
without altering the nature of subsequent rows [e.g. Scientific].


Note: I have left out the use of "non-adjacent places" on the basis that it
is changing the nature of the row (from the plain course) which is the
important distinction between bob and single.




1. A call made by addition or removal of places, which alters the nature of
the row. 


2. A compound call made by multiple additions, removal or shifts of places,
which alters the nature of subsequent rows [e.g. a Single in Grandsire].

You could go on to define other calls in common usage, such as Extreme, or
Double. Although the latter [eg pn123456 in S Max] is a twin Single, it
actually falls into my definition of a bob given the omission of
"non-adjacent places" but compositions containing them usually contain bobs
as well.


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