[r-t] Method difficulty

Philip Earis Earisp at rsc.org
Wed Mar 9 10:52:46 UTC 2005

It's an interesting question.  To a first-order approximation, I (and
I'm sure I'm not the first) would look at the number of changes of
direction, not counting dodges.  Eg a 5-pull dodge does not count as
multiple changes of direction.

The problem is you've also got other bits of work which don't really
constitute changes of direction, eg Cambridge places.  Indeed, the only
real changes of direction in Cambridge are when bells turn around at the
front/back.  I think Richard Smith has proposed using the Fibonacci
sequence to take account of these 'longer-range' effects.

There are many other factors too, such as whether a method is
right-place (or predominately so), etc.  Cornwall might have relatively
many changes of direction, but I would categorise it as one of the
easier t.d. major methods.

I think it would be hard to come up with some proposals that work with
every (or even most) methods - some methods can become a lot easier
depending on the 'algorithms' that can be used to ring them.

I'll think a bit more about it.  I wonder whether it can be possible to
rank certain sections of notation by difficulty, or perhaps factor in
whether sections are symmetric (this would be quite interesting, I

-----Original Message-----
From: King, Peter R [mailto:peter.king at imperial.ac.uk] 
Sent: 09 March 2005 10:19
To: ringing-theory at bellringers.net
Subject: [r-t] Method difficulty

Can anyone think of an objective measure for method difficulty? I know
it is a highly subjective issue, rather like music, but, like it or not,
there are measures there (like crus, or little bell roll ups or counts
of other preferred combinations). Are there sensible equivalents for
difficulty. What I mean is difficulty in learning and ringing (rather
than conducting or composing). I sort of have in mind that there must be
some measure of the number of bits of information you need to store to
ring the method. So plain bob you only have to remember to dodge when
the treble leads. Whole chunks fo Cambridge can be condensed by learnign
"places in 56" (or wherever), or front work. However, large amounts of
Belfast it seems you have to learn explicitly almost on a blow by blow
basis. So Belfast is harder than Cambridge is harder than plain, seems
reasonable. However, is this simply because we tend to ring lots of
cambridge type methods with the same kind of work repeated and if we
rang more Belfast type methods we would get used to those bits of work.
Or is there something intrinsic to certain types of ork making them
harder to lump together.

I suppose if you ring strictly by place notation then the amount of
information required to be remembered is identical for same length
leads. But I don't think many would dispute teh ordering
Belfast>Cambridge>Plain Bob, in which case it should be possible to

Any thoughts/suggestions?


(ps I am not particularly interested in helpful advice on how to learn
or ring Belfast more efficiently!) 

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